No-hitters and blabbermouths just don’t mix

Published 12:25 am Sunday, June 1, 2008

Jim Croce had a popular song back in the 1970s where he laid out a few truths in life.

No. 1 — Don’t tug on Superman’s cape.

No. 2 — Don’t spit into the wind.

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No. 3 — Don’t pull the mask off the Lone Ranger.

While these are all great pieces of advice from one of the masters of the genre, I would like to submit a fourth truth in life, which is perhaps the most important.

When a pitcher has a no-hitter going, for crying out loud don’t mention it.

Many a no-hitter has been ruined by one blabber mouth or another mentioning the feat, which, of course, unlocks the karma box. And, let me tell you, when karma is against you, there is no chance.

The latest to fall victim to the blabbermouth syndrome was Vidalia’s own Barry Bowden.

Bowden was on the hill Friday night for Southern Miss in the Baton Rouge Regional, facing the powerful offense of New Orleans.

The Privateers came into the game hitting .324 as a team with 93 home runs on the season, but Bowden just breezed through the first five innings like he was throwing a bullpen session.

The senior needed to throw only 51 pitches through the first five innings, allowing no hits and walking just one, which was erased on a pick off.

The fifth inning was especially easy for Bowden. He needed only eight pitches to retire the side in order on a fly out and two weak groundouts.

It was at this point when I really started to notice the no-hit possibility the night had.

I watched Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson’s perfect game against the Atlanta Braves on television a few years ago but had never seen one in person before.

What were the odds that my first ever no-hitter in person would be thrown by a local kid I who specifically went to the game to cover?

A small knot developed in my stomach as I considered the possibilities. I flipped through the regional program to find out when the last no-hitter had been thrown in a regional game: John Burke, University of Florida vs. Furman on May 22, 1991.

I thought of the award-winning article that could come out of the hometown boy throwing a no-hitter on the biggest stage of his career. I considered how the article would sound, what the lead would be and who all I could get quotes from back in Vidalia.

The knot grew larger as Bowden induced a groundout from the first batter of the sixth inning. Just 11 outs to go.

I wanted to talk about it with the people sitting around me, but I knew better. I had an award-winning article to write, Bowden had a life long memory to make, and I didn’t want bad karma screwing it up.

However, the elderly gentlemen sitting to my left apparently didn’t care about karma, Bowden’s life long memory or my Pulitzer Prize winning sports story, because it was at that point where he blurted out “We got a no-hitter going.”

“Do you know what you just did?!” I wanted to yell at the man, but all I could do was smile grimly. At that moment, the knot in my stomach dissipated. I knew what was about to happen.

The next batter drew a walk, and I just shook my head. When the next batter hit a liner into the right field corner for a double, karma had bitten Bowden and the greatest article ever written was now only a dream.

Karma decided to really make Bowden pay for that utterance by my fellow media member as he failed to make it out of the inning and New Orleans scored six runs.

Fortunately, the man’s words didn’t affect the Golden Eagles bats, as they scored the final seven runs of the game to pull away for the victory.

Bowden, however, received a no-decision and my article, while enjoyable to write, was not quite Pulitzer worthy.

So while Jim Croce might have given some simple truths back in the 70s, people attending a baseball game might be wise to listen to the words of the band No Doubt in case they are witnessing the makings of a no-no. Don’t speak.

Jeff Edwards is the sports editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3633 or