Some baseball fans of the 1970s and ’80s might say that pitcher Dan Boitano never unlocked his full potential. A three-time first-round draft pick,1 Boitano appeared in just 51 games over five big-league seasons, posting a 2-2 record and a 5.68 ERA.
The members of the 1973 Elmira Pioneer-Red Sox2 would be unlikely to agree with that assessment. On August 21, 1973, needing a win to stay in pennant contention in the Class A New York-Penn League, the Elmira club instead ran into a dominant performance by Boitano. Pitching for the Auburn Phillies, Boitano hurled the league’s only no-hitter of the 1973 season,3 winning a tautly pitched game, 2-0.
Auburn—a Philadelphia Phillies farm team, as their name suggested—had dropped the previous day’s game to Elmira in embarrassing fashion, losing 13-1. They hadn’t had to endure too much of that kind of humiliation, though. Entering the August 21 game, they led the league with a 39-18 record, 4½ games in front of second-place Jamestown. Elmira was tied for fifth in an eight-team league with a record of 28-29, 11 games behind Auburn.4
Manager Harry Lloyd’s Auburn team sent three players to the big leagues, and two of them started that night—20-year-old Boitano, and 20-year-old third baseman and leadoff hitter Rick Bosetti.5 Bosetti hit a ringing .333 in 67 games with Auburn and stole a league-leading 27 bases. Other noteworthy Phillies starters included right fielder John Guarnaccia, who led the team with 7 home runs and the league with 59 RBIs, and first baseman Roly de Armas, later a coach with the Chicago White Sox and Toronto Blue Jays between 1995 and 2000.6
Dick Berardino’s Elmira team sent five players to the major leagues, and two of them started on August 21—18-year-old shortstop Ted Cox and 20-year-old catcher Bo Diaz. Berardino himself reached the major leagues as a bullpen and third-base coach with the Red Sox from 1989 through 1991.7
Elmira starting pitcher Ronnie Sims stood out as one of the New York-Penn League’s workhorse starters. A fourth-round draft pick of the Red Sox in June 1972 out of high school in South Carolina, Sims tied for second in the league with nine wins and led the loop with 17 starts and 115 innings pitched.8 He also led the league in walks, with 87, and strikeouts, with 129. The right-hander turned 19 just three days before his matchup with Boitano.9
Pitching in front of a small crowd of 442 fans, Sims got off to the faster start, retiring the first nine Auburn hitters in order.10 Boitano walked second baseman Charlie Meyers to lead off the game, and Meyers moved to second on a groundout. The next two Elmira hitters grounded out and struck out.11
After perfect innings in the second and third, Boitano walked center fielder Leo Sutten to start the fourth. Sutten stole second base, then advanced to third when Auburn catcher P.J. Carey threw wildly to second. The hard-throwing Boitano rose to the challenge, striking out third baseman Ramon McDonald, right fielder Teddie Seels, and Cox. Sutten was the only Elmira baserunner to reach third that night.12
(A discrepancy survives in news reports of this action-packed fourth inning. The Auburn and Elmira newspapers both credited Auburn catcher Carey with picking Sutten off third. The Auburn paper included a description of the play, describing Carey’s throw as “just like being shot out of a gun.” But both stories also credited Boitano with striking out McDonald, Seels, and Cox in that inning. A pickoff plus three strikeouts equals four outs. This sequence of events would be possible if one of the hitters reached on a dropped third strike, but neither story makes mention of such an unusual occurrence.)
Auburn’s offense awoke in the fourth, starting with a one-out walk to center fielder German Geigel13 and left fielder Jerry Gardner. The runners advanced to second and third on a passed ball by Diaz. Sims intentionally walked Guarnaccia to load the bases, and de Armas followed with a sacrifice fly to Sutten. Auburn claimed a 1-0 lead without benefit of a hit.14
Auburn added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth, driven by the same players who stirred up the fourth-inning rally. Geigel collected the game’s first hit for either side, a single. He stole second base, and Gardner drove him home with another single to center field for a 2-0 Auburn lead.15
Boitano was perfect in the fifth and sixth, but Elmira generated a few rumblings on offense in the seventh and eighth. With one out in the seventh, McDonald reached base when Auburn shortstop Mark Ammons misplayed his grounder.16 He advanced no farther. In the eighth, left fielder Barry Jackson walked with one out and took second on a wild pitch. Boitano struck out first baseman Jim Watts and pinch-hitter John Roatche to end the inning.17
Roatche had pinch-hit for Sims, so 18-year-old lefty reliever Gregory Eastin worked the bottom of the eighth for Elmira. He gave up a single, the game’s fourth and final hit, but allowed no runs. One news account reported, “There was no hard-hit ball all night.”18 It was one of only 20 career appearances for Eastin, all with Elmira in 1973 and ’74. He went 1-4 with a 5.18 ERA for his career.
Boitano set down the top of the Elmira order—Meyers, Sutten, and McDonald—in the ninth inning to seal his no-hitter. Game accounts do not describe the final three outs in detail, but mention that Boitano was mobbed by teammates after wrapping up the game in 1 hour and 52 minutes. Boitano was “in complete control,” throwing only 103 pitches as he walked three and struck out 12.19 Sims took the loss, giving up three hits and two runs over seven innings, walking four and striking out eight.
Boitano’s gem was only the second thrown by an Auburn pitcher in New York-Penn League history, preceded by Dennis Ballard of the Auburn Yankees against Geneva on July 3, 1959. Auburn pitchers threw three additional no-no’s before the New York-Penn League went out of existence prior to the 2021 season.20
Auburn finished the season in first place with a 46-23 record, while Elmira finished sixth at 32-37. Bosetti was the game’s first participant to reach the big leagues, in September 1976, with Cox and Diaz following a year later. Boitano’s journey was more complicated. After a poor year as a starter at Class A in 1974, he bounced back and forth between starting and relief duties for a few seasons. He finally reached the Phillies as a reliever, debuting in the team’s last regular-season game of 1978. He subsequently pitched for the Brewers, the Mets, and the Rangers, all in relief, and appeared in his final major-league game four years to the day after his first.
This article was fact-checked by Gary Belleville and copy-edited by Len Levin.
In addition to the specific sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted Baseball-Reference.com and Retrosheet.org for general player, team, and season data.
Neither Baseball-Reference nor Retrosheet provides box scores of minor-league games, but the August 22, 1973, editions of the Elmira (New York) Star-Gazette and Auburn (New York) Citizen-Advertiser published box scores.
Image of 1980 Topps card #668 downloaded from the Trading Card Database.
The author thanks Fultonhistory.com for making some of the cited newspapers available online.
1 Boitano’s lengthy draft history follows: He was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the seventh round of the June 1971 amateur draft; the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round of the January 1972 draft-secondary phase; the Philadelphia Phillies in the first round of the June 1972 draft-secondary phase; the Montreal Expos in the second round of the January 1973 draft-secondary phase; and the Phillies again in the first round (11th) of the June 1973 draft-secondary phase. He finally signed with Philadelphia two weeks after the June 1973 draft.
2 Baseball-Reference calls the team the Elmira Pioneers. But the newspaper in the team’s home city, the Elmira (New York) Star-Gazette, called them the Elmira Pioneer-Red Sox in 1973 coverage. The full “Pioneer-Red Sox” name also appeared in game-day advertisements and classified ads taken out by the ballclub.
4 New York-Penn League standings and previous day’s game result as printed in the Rochester (New York) Democrat and Chronicle, August 21, 1973: 1D.
5 At Auburn in 1973, Bosetti appeared almost entirely at third base, except for one game at second base. In seven major-league seasons, he played strictly as an outfielder.
9 Sims’s record for the full season was 9-6 with a 3.60 ERA. He pitched one more year, going 5-7 with a 6.99 ERA at Class A Winston-Salem in 1974, and then left professional baseball.
10 “Auburn No-Hits Pioneers,” Elmira (New York) Star-Gazette, August 22, 1973: 21.
11 “Boitano Hurls First No-Hitter of Season,” Auburn (New York) Citizen-Advertiser, August 22, 1973: 16.
12 “Boitano Hurls First No-Hitter of Season.”
13 In the Elmira newspaper story he is “German Ahil,” perhaps a phonetic spelling of his name. Baseball-Reference lists him as German Geigel, and the newspaper story from the Phillies’ home city of Auburn uses that spelling as well.
14 “Boitano Hurls First No-Hitter of Season.”
15 “Auburn No-Hits Pioneers.”
16 The Auburn newspaper story says McDonald reached base in the seventh. The Elmira newspaper account has McDonald reaching in the sixth, but this appears to be an error: The same story says Boitano threw a perfect sixth inning.
17 “Boitano Hurls First No-Hitter of Season”; “Auburn No-Hits Pioneers.”
18 “Boitano Hurls First No-Hitter of Season.”
19 “Boitano Hurls First No-Hitter of Season.”
20 List of New York-Penn League no-hitters at milb.com (see note 3). Subsequent no-hitters by Auburn pitchers were thrown by James Wright against Batavia on August 25, 1974; Tim Redding, Darwin Peguero, and Pete Sullivan against St. Catharines on August 4, 1998; and Robert Ray and Adrian Martin, again against Batavia, on August 26, 2005. Auburn teams were also on the receiving end of six no-hitters over the decades in New York-Penn League play.
Auburn Phillies 2
Elmira Pioneer-Red Sox 0
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