I’m old enough to remember watching John Candelaria toss a no-hitter on television for the Pirates in 1976. I also watched Bret Saberhagen throw one in 1991 on television. And since then, I’ve seen a slew of others in which networks cut in for the final inning, expertly filling in all the details so viewers can feel the drama building.
That’s the way the major leagues are covered – justifiably so.
Fast forward to yesterday, when Chris Rusin tossed a no-hitter in New Orleans for the Iowa Cubs – the first one in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League since 2009.
It was covered differently than major league no-hitters, as is every other feat in the minor leagues. In fact, the first video I saw of the celebration was shot by Randy Wehofer, the director of media relations for the Iowa Cubs, with his cell phone. It was shaky and unpolished, making it a perfect portrayal of a major event being recorded in the minor leagues.
"Shaky video (with audio play-by-play) of final out of Chris Rusin no-hitter today at NOZ. http://t.co/76f6JYnbws" shot on my phone— Randy Wehofer (@RandyWehofer) May 7, 2014
To my knowledge, there weren’t any live look-ins as the no-hitter progressed. Instead, Twitter provided the unfolding drama.
Chris Rusin doing it all for the @IowaCubs today. Hasn't allowed a hit through 6 IP, is 2-for-3 with 2 RBIs. http://t.co/ZCuwi0u7T3 #Cubs— Sam Dykstra (@SamDykstraMiLB) May 7, 2014
Chris Rusin of the @IowaCubs is throwing a No-Hitter through 8 innings #IowaPride— CyclONE Nation (@istatenation) May 7, 2014
Even the person in charge of the New Orleans Zephyrs Twitter account got in on the act, probably as a way to jinx the no-no, if you believe in such things. As a side note, I don't see Rusin in the photo, do you?
Chris Rusin heads out to the mound, pitching a no hitter thru 8 pic.twitter.com/TTNISYLkEP— New Orleans Zephyrs (@zephyrsbaseball) May 7, 2014
The drama continued to build via Twitter.
Chris Rusin is one out away from a no-hitter for @IowaCubs #tunedinlate— Josh Timmers (@Cubsminorswrap) May 7, 2014
Rusin one out away now!— Luke Jett (@LukeJett) May 7, 2014
And the celebration was on.
The celebration is on in New Orleans. #Cubs #PCL #MiLB RT @javy23baez: No Hitter @C_RusIn RT— Tommy Birch (@TommyBirch) May 7, 2014
Parker Waters photo: I-Cubs LHP Chris Rusin gets the last out in no-hitter at NOZ. pic.twitter.com/61TbJpKMWc— Iowa Cubs (@IowaCubs) May 7, 2014
History made by @C_RusIn in NOLA. First no-hitter for an @IowaCubs since Reggie Patterson in 1984. #Cubs win 3-0!— Randy Wehofer (@RandyWehofer) May 7, 2014
I've only been covering MiLB for six seasons and I haven't had the privilege of seeing a no-hitter live. And I really can't speak from a position of authority on this, but it seems to me that MiLB no-hitters may not have received a lot of attention as they unfolded in the past, partially because, well ... it's the minor leagues, and partially because baseball fans outside of local markets didn't access to media outlets that might be covering one.
But now, Twitter can take us anywhere, anytime.