Porter’s national record still lives onPublished 12:02am Saturday, May 31, 2014
NATCHEZ — Joey Porter’s national record of 80 scoreless inning streak lives.
The former South Natchez standout set the national high school record for most scoreless innings and most shutouts with 11 thrown in 1973, and recently, both records were in peril, challenged by a fellow left-hander from Pittsburgh.
Beaver Falls’ Brendan McKay entered Thursday night’s playoff game 11 innings away from Porter’s record.
McKay’s scoreless inning streak came to halt in the third inning, and his 71 2/3 scoreless innings thrown is third best in history. Porter, 58, lives in Columbia, where friends have kept him current on McKay’s run. Keeping the record enlightened Porter.
“I guess I have to be honest and say that I’m happy,” Porter said. “I saw that he not only lost his streak, but he was defeated. That’s the same thing that happened to me.”
To make things worse for McKay, the Blackhawks lost 5-3 in the state championship game. Unlike Porter’s run in the playoffs, Beaver Falls played in a single elimination tournament, so when Porter’s streak ended in the playoffs, his team was able to rally back to win the playoff series and eventually win the state championship in ’73.
Porter couldn’t remember the exact date or round of the playoffs that ended his streak, but he can remember losing 4-3 to Pascagoula High School.
During Porter’s streak, he didn’t receive the national spotlight McKay received these past few weeks, including articles written by Yahoo Sports.
Instead, he said he was just a normal high school kid, and his father actually wanted his streak to end before heading into the playoffs.
“Funny story about that is we had a ballgame on a Monday night, and we 10-run ruled somebody,” Porter said. “It was right before the playoffs, and my dad missed the game because he had a meeting. He pulled into the parking lot, and I told him we had won. He said, ‘oh darn, you need to go ahead and give up a run.’ He was worried about having the streak and playoffs coincide.”
Since McKay made a run at Porter’s streak, past stories have flooded his memory. Porter said it takes skill to keep a streak like that alive, and sometimes, it takes a little luck.
“I can remember things like a playoff game against Forrest Hill involving a play at the plate, where I threw a guy out to keep the streak going,” Porter said. “Another time, when I was playing against Brookhaven, I gave up a leadoff triple and got out of that jam. It’s funny how you remember things like that after 40 years.”
At South Natchez, Porter was a 5’9”, 136-pound left-hander. Porter went to play baseball for Delta State, but had his career cut short because of arm troubles.
Porter went on to coach football at South Natchez and Columbia, where he coached for 25 years and won a state championship before retiring as athletic director in 2008.
The last few weeks have been an enjoyable time spent reminiscing for Porter, and though he’s happy to keep the record, he believes the record will one day be broken.
“I like the record, and it’s a lot of notoriety, but none of those records will last,” Porter said.
Forty-one years after Porter’s remarkable accomplishment, he remains No. 1 in the record book.