By CHUCKIE MAGGIO
Esteban Yan had a 23rd birthday to remember on June 22, 1997.
The turnout was quite impressive, as 9,535 fans filled Frontier Field. Yan’s co-workers came bearing gifts of 12 hits and 15 runs, which made up for isolating him in the “break room” late in the afternoon.
Yan retired the first 21 Charlotte Knights he faced and held a no-hitter until the eighth, allowing just one hit and recording 12 strikeouts in Rochester’s 15-0 victory.
“From the time he warmed up in the bullpen, he was just outstanding,” Red Wings catcher Ryan Ludzinski told the Democrat and Chronicle. “He’s a very hyper person with a lot of adrenaline. Sometimes that gets him into trouble, but not today. He was awesome.”
The Dominican-born right-hander allowed solid contact just twice, with two Knights reaching the warning track early, but was otherwise unchallenged until Chris Sheff’s single to the left of second base ended the no-hit bid. The hit came two batters after Russ Morman walked on a full count to lead off the inning.
Rochester led 11-0 after six innings, so Yan’s pursuit of perfection was the only suspenseful aspect left. He wasn’t on edge, however; he even poured himself a cup of coffee in the clubhouse after a perfect sixth, paying no mind to the 87-degree weather.
Yan would have been just the third pitcher in International League history to throw a nine-inning perfect game to that point, a feat that hadn’t been accomplished since 1952. Gary Robson threw a seven-inning perfecto for Rochester in 1974, but no Wings pitcher ever tossed one for nine.
“I was pulling for the guy,” Rochester manager Marv Foley commented. “It was right within his grasp.”
Tommy Davis, Danny Clyburn and B.J. Waszgis each homered for Rochester as the Wings dominated Charlotte without two regular starters. Second baseman Francisco Matos had an ear infection and outfielder Jim Warwick was rehabbing a pulled muscle.
Yan compiled an 11-5 record in Rochester that season, appearing in 34 games for the International League champions. He recorded 33 major league victories, starting in Baltimore before playing for six more MLB franchises.
|Charlotte||0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 – 0|
|Rochester||1 4 0 2 0 4 2 2 X – 15|
|E – Clapinski, Rodriguez. LOB – Charlotte 3, Rochester 6.|
|2B – Forbes, Davis, Bullett. HR – Davis (7), Clyburn (14), Waszgis (5)|
|SF – Ledesma, Waszgis. SB – Bullett.|
|Reid Cornelius (L, 4-3)||3||5||7||7||6||2|
|Esteban Yan (W, 5-3)||8||1||0||0||1||12|
|HBP – Luzinski, Berg.|
|Time – 2:31. Attendance – 9,535|
Also on this day: Taylor Duncan hit two homers, including a go-ahead hit in the eighth, as Rochester beat Tidewater 5-4 in 1976… Tim Hulett was a perfect 4-for-4 with three runs scored and an RBI as the Red Wings won 12-1 in Iowa in 1989… Armando Benitez struck out the side in the ninth as the Red Wings defeated Richmond 3-1 for their fourth straight win in 1995… Josh Rabe recorded four base hits and drove in two runs to lead the Wings past Louisville, 10-2, in 2006.