Bjarkman: Aquino Abreu, baseball’s other double no-hit pitcher

From SABR member Peter C. Bjarkman at Baseball de Cuba on December 14, 2012:

Aquino Abreu – a diminutive right-handed fastball specialist who labored for a decade and a half during the formative years of the modern-era post-revolution Cuban League – remains entirely unknown to North American and Asian baseball fanatics. This is a rather large irony considering that Abreu once registered a string of the most remarkable performances witnessed anywhere in the history of the bat and ball sport. The more noteworthy event perhaps was a pair of consecutive no-hit and no-run games that equaled a feat achieved precisely once in the big leagues and only twice in the entire recorded saga of North American Organized Baseball.

Hardly less rare, however, was this same obscure hurler’s 20-inning losing stint that same 1966 season in which he rang up 19.1 scoreless innings before yielding the sole enemy tally in the final frame. And all three miraculous performances were achieved in less than a single calendar month. It is hardly an exaggeration to propose that no other single pitcher in the game’s long annals ever matched Cuba’s Aquino Abreu by authoring a parallel trio of brilliant outings during any single brief four-week span.

No ballpark history buff worth his salt is unaware of Cincinnati southpaw Johnny Vander Meer’s pair of back-to-back gems against Boston and Brooklyn in June of 1938; it is a feat that only two other major league pitchers – American Leaguer Howard Ehmke of Boston in 1923 and National Leaguer Ewell Blackwell of (quite ironically) Cincinnati in 1947—have ever come legitimately close to matching. More obscure were the consecutive hitless games achieved in May 1952 by Bill Bell of Bristol (Tennessee) in the Class D Appalachian League. [i] With his own pair of unique uninterrupted gems in January 1966, unheralded Cuban Leaguer Aquino Abreu thus became the first to display this same form of unparalleled pitching mastery anywhere outside of North American soil.

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Originally published: December 17, 2012. Last Updated: December 17, 2012.