September 3, 1985: Yankees farmhand Troy Evers pitches playoff no-hitter in New York-Penn League

This article was written by Kurt Blumenau

Troy Evers (TRADING CARD DB)On September 3, 1985, 21-year-old righthander Troy Evers capped a dominant season in fitting style, pitching a postseason no-hitter in the Class A New York-Penn League. Evers’ 2-0 no-no enabled the Oneonta (New York) Yankees to eliminate the Geneva (New York) Cubs in the first round of the league playoffs, sending Oneonta to the championship round in dramatic fashion.1

Oneonta, skippered by 29-year-old rookie manager Buck Showalter, was the class of the short-season league that year. The junior Yankees finished with the league’s best record at 55-23, finishing 19 games ahead of second-place Utica in the loop’s North Division. While relatively low in home-run power, Oneonta’s offense led the league in hits, triples, walks, runs, runs batted in, and batting average.

But the pitching of the “O-Yanks” was the real story. Across a 78-game season, Oneonta pitchers posted a remarkable 1.87 ERA, compared with a league average of 3.53. They led the league in complete games and strikeouts, tied for the top in shutouts, and allowed the fewest hits and home runs by a wide margin. Evers was the star of Oneonta’s talented staff. His 10-1 record tied him for most wins in the league, and his 1.18 ERA was the league’s best.2 Geneva had been the only team that year to hang a loss on him, as the Cubs came out on top of a 4-1 decision on July 21.3 The Yankees chose Evers out of Iowa State University in the second round of that year’s June free-agent draft.

Five members of the Oneonta pitching staff later reached the major leagues – though one, Oscar Azocar, later converted to the outfield. Al Leiter, who went 3-2 with a 2.37 ERA in six games in Oneonta, went on to win 162 games and two World Series titles across 19 seasons in the major leagues.

Manager Tony Franklin’s Geneva Cubs finished at 45-33, two games behind Auburn in the Central Division. The New York-Penn League had three divisions at the time, and Geneva claimed the fourth and last playoff spot by posting the best record of any team outside the division winners.

At the plate, future major-league outfielders Doug Dascenzo and Dwight Smith were Geneva’s biggest boppers. Dascenzo hit .333 and ranked among league leaders in doubles, stolen bases, and walks, while Smith hit .289 and also ranked near the top in stolen bases. Three eight-game winners led the pitching staff, and one of them, Roger Williams (8-4, 2.86 in 15 games), got the start against Evers. Williams, a 21-year-old rookie righty, had been chosen by the Cubs in the fourth round of the June 1985 draft.

Oneonta and Geneva faced off in a single winner-take-all game in one semifinal round, while Auburn and Jamestown did the same in the other.4 According to the box score, 817 people came to Oneonta’s Damaschke Field on a Tuesday night to see which team would move on to the finals. In addition to Dascenzo and Smith, future major leaguers in the starting lineups included Oneonta shortstop Shane Turner. Onlookers in the stands included Evers’ father, Dick, as well as Roy White, the former Yankee outfielder then serving as the parent club’s vice president for baseball administration.5

The first two innings passed without scoring. Geneva shortstop Jeff Small drew a walk with two out in the second inning but did not advance.6 As it turned out, he was the Cubs’ only baserunner of the game, and the only thing standing between Evers and perfection. Pitching and fielding were sharp on both sides: Neither team made an error, and no batters on either side were hit by pitches.

Oneonta pieced together its first run in the third inning, starting with a two-out single by left fielder and leadoff batter Corey Viltz. Viltz stole second, and Turner drove him in with another single.7 Viltz led the Yankees with 23 stolen bases in 1985, the second of his six-season minor-league career.

The Yankees played small-ball again in the seventh inning to garner their other run. Designated hitter Chris Lombardozzi8 led off with a single. A sacrifice and a groundout moved him around to third, and Williams’s wild pitch enabled him to score.9 Franklin replaced Williams after seven innings with reliever Jeff Hirsch, who had collected a league-leading 13 saves in 22 games during the regular season. Hirsch worked a scoreless eighth inning for Geneva.

Evers later said that he didn’t have his best fastball, but had enough speed and mixed his pitches well enough to stay ahead of Geneva’s hitters.10 By all accounts, the Cubs threatened to break up the no-hitter only twice. In the sixth inning, designated hitter Dascenzo smashed a long fly ball that Oneonta right fielder Jason Maas11 reeled in with an over-the-shoulder catch at the wall. And leading off the ninth, center fielder Derrick Hardamon lined a ball back to the mound that Evers caught.12 Evers then retired pinch-hitter Simon Mejia and Dascenzo to close out the no-hitter in 2 hours and 20 minutes. Remarkably, he needed only 84 pitches to finish the job.13

Evers’ performance earned praise from the Yankees’ pitching coach, former Brooklyn Dodger Russ “Monk” Meyer. “He was the master. He had every pitch under command and didn’t make a mistake all night,” Meyer told reporters. At one point in the game, Showalter reportedly considered ordering Meyer to the bullpen to cool his excitement over Evers’ no-no in progress. Showalter added, “It’s seldom you see a young pitcher in that much command of his pitches. He just never faltered.”14

Evers’ catcher that night, incidentally, was 21-year-old Greg Iavarone. Iavarone, a 14th-round pick of the Yankees in the June 1985 draft from the University of Illinois, played five seasons in the minors and topped out at Double A.

Another rookie just starting his professional career played a supporting role in the no-hitter. Home-plate umpire Ed Rapuano, in his first season as a pro in 1985, later spent 23 seasons as a major-league arbiter. Almost 10 years after working Evers’ game, he called balls and strikes for a big-league no-no when the Atlanta Braves’ Kent Mercker no-hit the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 8, 1994.15

Evers did not pitch in the playoff finals, as Oneonta swept Auburn two games to none to claim the championship.16 In Auburn’s semifinal victory, starter Blaise Ilsley pitched almost as well as Evers, allowing just three hits and striking out 15 Jamestown batters in a 6-0 win.17

Evers injured his arm in spring training the following year, when he held the ball on an attempted pickoff throw and felt his elbow pop.18 His career in the Yankees organization peaked at Double A, although he remains a footnote to team history: In July 1988 Evers was part of the oft-criticized trade that sent Jay Buhner from the Yankees to the Seattle Mariners in return for Ken Phelps.19 Evers played two more seasons in the Seattle organization, again topping out at Double A.

In the spring of 1995, he reemerged as a replacement player in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ training camp, hoping to land a minor-league deal but planning to fall back on a nursing degree if that didn’t work out.20 When those opportunities fell through, Evers returned to independent baseball in Green Bay, Wisconsin. As of 2017, he was working as an intensive-care unit nurse in a hospital in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.21



This article was fact-checked by Gary Belleville and copy-edited by Len Levin.


Sources and photo credit

In addition to the specific sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted and for general player, team, and season data.

Neither Baseball-Reference nor Retrosheet provides box scores of minor-league games, but the September 4, 1985, edition of the Binghamton (New York) Evening Press published a box score.

The author thanks for making some of the cited newspapers accessible online.

Image of 1987 ProCards card #683 downloaded from the Trading Card Database.



1 “Troy Evers Hurls Playoff No-Hitter,” Appleton (Wisconsin) Post-Crescent, September 4, 1985: C1. The Appleton newspaper took note of the game because Evers was a native of the area. He starred for local high school and American Legion teams before moving on to Iowa State University.

2 The other pitcher to win 10 games was future big leaguer Jeff Ballard, who went 10-2 with the Orioles’ farm team in Newark, New York. Some sources, including the 2019 New York-Penn League media guide and the Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, list Evers’ league-leading ERA as 1.87. However, Ballard and Blaise Ilsley each posted ERAs in the 1.40 range, so the 1.18 ERA used by Baseball-Reference appears to be correct.

3 “O-Yanks’ Evers Hurls No-Hitter to Oust Cubs,” Finger Lakes Times (Geneva, New York), September 4, 1985: 24.

4 2019 New York-Penn League media guide, accessed online May 21, 2021.

5 “Troy Evers Hurls Playoff No-Hitter.”

6 “O-Yanks’ Evers Hurls No-Hitter to Oust Cubs.”

7 “84-Pitch No-Hitter Advances O-Yanks,” Binghamton (New York) Evening Press, September 4, 1985: 7B.

8 Brother of future major-league infielder Steve Lombardozzi, and uncle of future major-league infielder Steve Lombardozzi Jr.

9 “O-Yanks’ Evers Hurls No-Hitter to Oust Cubs.”

10 “Troy Evers Hurls Playoff No-Hitter.”

11 Brother of future major-league outfielder Kevin Maas.

12 Associated Press, “Oneonta to Face Auburn for NY-P Title; Yankees’ Evers Holds Geneva Hitless,” Utica (New York) Daily Press, September 4, 1985: 11.

13 All cited game stories agree on the 84-pitch number.

14 “84-Pitch No-Hitter Advances O-Yanks.”

15 “84-Pitch No-Hitter Advances O-Yanks” mentions Rapuano as the home-plate umpire. Rapuano’s Sporting News umpire card confirms that he worked in the New York-Penn League in 1985.

16 Results of the final playoff round from the 2019 New York-Penn media guide. (See Note 5.) Oneonta pitchers Kevin Trudeau and Mike Christopher started the two final-round games.

17 Associated Press.

18 Dan Flannery, “Evers Continues to Chase Baseball Way of Life,” Appleton Post-Crescent, May 16, 1986: C1.

19 The full terms of the trade: Buhner, Evers, and minor leaguer Rick Balabon to Seattle, Phelps to the Yankees.

20 Tony Walter, “Following a Major Calling,” Green Bay (Wisconsin) Press-Gazette, February 15, 1995: C1.

21 “Ascension Wisconsin Supports Experimental Aircraft Association Event,”, accessed online May 21, 2021.

Additional Stats

Oneonta Yankees 2
Geneva Cubs 0

Damaschke Field
Oneonta, NY

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