ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – Nearly 60 years ago, an Elmira Pioneer set a major Eastern League milestone.
Pitcher Eddie Watt, just 24, threw two no-hitters in his first three starts of the season for the Pioneers. A mark that gives Watt the distinction of being the only Eastern League player to throw two no-hitters in the same season. The anniversary of the first no-hitter is Saturday, April 24. Now 56 years later, Watt shares his story with NBC Elmira on this storied run.
An eventual World Series winner with Baltimore in 1970, Watt went on to pitch 10 years in Major League Baseball. On top of the two no-hitters for history, Watt was inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame in 2000. The O’s were the Class AA affiliate of the Pioneers from 1962-1968 and Watt was a major contributor playing for future Hall of Fame coach, Earl Weaver.
“Well I remember the opening day, it was kind of chilly,” Watt said.
“Earl sent me down to the bullpen and he said come on back, come on back. (We) wanted to hold the game up for a while because they had a lot of trouble getting all the people into the park for opening day, so I pitched nine innings, which doesn’t happen a lot these days.”
That opening day start against Williamsport proved to be a defining moment for Watt at Dunn Field, who then went on to pitch another no-hitter on May 6 against Reading. In those two no-hit games and part of a third, Watt pitched 24 2/3 innings without allowing a single run to start 1965.
Watt’s potential and talent clearly was evident on the mound and his success carried over into the majors. Although his numbers weren’t as staggering in ten seasons with the Orioles, Phillies and Cubs (38-36 record 2.91 ERA), Watt would enjoy a baseball life of over 40 years (10 as a player, over 30 as a coach).
One of perhaps Watt’s most notable stats in his time in the big leagues, Mickey Mantle was a career 0-for-9 against him. Mantle, a future Baseball Hall of Fame inductee, was considered the greatest hitter by many of his generation for the New York Yankees. Watt’s success story is one for the record books. A life story that he hopes can inspire in the game and in life.
“Put in your time, enjoy yourself in whatever career or occupation you choose,” Watt said.
“Don’t take yourself too seriously, because most people don’t.”
18 Sports will have more with Watt in the days ahead. For now, enjoy this great trip down memory lane with Watt 56 years ago.
(Additional Information: courtesy of MILB.com)