Monday, December 5, 2011

Another Sad Story From the 70s...

This pitcher tossed the first no-hitter on artificial grass, as well as the first inside a domed stadium:

Card #217 -- Don Wilson, Houston Astros

Don Wilson pitched two no-hitters during his career, one in 1967 and the other in '69. 20 of his 104 wins was a shutout, including the last game he pitched. He was a pitcher who could rack up strikeouts (averaging 6.6 per 9 innings) while not allowing a whole lot of hits and walks. He even managed to lay down a bunt double against the Phillies in 1971, which is a rare feat.

However, Don Wilson's death will probably overshadow what he did in his life. On January 5, 1975, he was found dead in his garage. His car was running and the garage was closed, so he died of carbon monoxide poisoning. His son was also in the car with him. A daughter and his wife were inside the house and had to be hospitalized. The death was ruled an accident, but that hasn't stopped fans from suggesting something else was afoot.

Ironically, the picture on this card seems to suggest an inner sadness, something that may not have been noticed until the sad news broke.


  1. I have the clipping from the Chronicle that day, no idea why I kept it with my other baseball box scores and things. Don was a good pitcher, playing for hopeless Astros in the 60's tended to hide that fact, but he was a good pitcher and he threw some memorable games.
    The kids were not in the car, they were all in the house. In the article, the description of the scene sounds more like he had maybe had a fight with the wife and was cooling off down in the car, having a smoke and listening to the car radio. Garage doors were open, says the article.
    Strangely, the police reported that the wife had a fractured jaw, but she did not know how she got it... but, I don't get the feeling he was trying to kill anyone. But who knows.

    Anyhow, he was quite a pitcher and his loss is a shame. Also in the article I have clipped is a great quote by him. He had a no hitter through 8 innings, but Astros were down 2-1, so Houston manager pulled him for a pinch hitter. "I respect Preston Gomez as a manager," said Wilson after the game. "I respect him more than ever tonight. When people start putting personal goals ahead of the team, you'll never have a winner."

  2. Wilson was one of three Astros pitchers to toss 200 K's in 1969. Another had 173.

    Hank Aaron once said Wilson was the toughest for him to hit.