18-Strikeout No-Hitter From 1956

The letter and copies of press clippings from a 1956 baseball game involving Encinal of Alameda and its rivals from Alameda was expected last week, but the article was even more interesting because of who wrote it.

The letter was sent by 82-year-old Paul Dennan of Fairfield, who had called a few days earlier wondering about a record from a game he was in at Encinal in the 1950s. Paul’s teammate from long ago, Ray Quintana, had struck out 18 batters in a seven-inning no-hitter and he wanted to know if it was a league record or a record of any kind. Paul said he had the articles to prove that the achievement was valid.

Quintana did indeed strike out 18 batters in a no-hitter and it came in a 15-0 win on April 21, 1956 by Encinal over Alameda. Coming into the game, Encinal was 0-3 in the Alameda County Athletic League while Alameda was 2-0. Quintana walked two and at one point struck out 10 straight batters. Dennan was reported with three hits as were teammates Don Sobrero and Jerry Aldrich.

There is no category in the Cal-Hi Sports state records for most strikeouts in a no-hitter but there is a category for most strikeouts in a seven-inning game. And in that category there are notations for those players who threw no-hitters.

The record would be 21 by two players. Eddie Gordon from Alhambra of Martinez, who had his 21-strikeout no-hitter in 1969 in a 4-0 victory against Las Lomas of Walnut Creek, would be the first. That achievement was duplicated in 2008 by Michael Fagan of San Diego Jewish Academy in a 5-0 win over San Diego Midway Baptist.

We also have notations for two other players with 20 strikeouts in a no-hitter. The first of those was by Bob Flynn of El Segundo in 1960 when the Eagles blanked St. John Vianney of Los Angeles 4-0. The second was by Steve Young from Amador of Sutter Creek in 1982 when the Buffaloes topped Calaveras of San Andreas 2-0.

There could be an unreported 19-strikeout no-hitter, but the only other 18-strikeout no-hitter we have in our files is one from just two seasons ago by Patrick Wicklander from Valley Christian of San Jose, who did it in a win against Archbishop Riordan of San Francisco.

As far as we know, therefore, the achievement that Paul was part of at Encinal in 1956 would be tied for second in Bay Area history and we will certainly accept it. As for most consecutive strikeouts, 10 could still be a league record, but it takes 12 to make it into our state record files. The record of 19 was set in 1967 by Lloyd Allen of Selma in a contest against Tulare Western.

The 1956 article itself was from the Oakland Tribune and it had a byline of Scotty Stirling. That is the same Scotty Stirling who went on to have a long, distinguished career as a professional sports executive and scout. He was once the NBA’s vice president of basketball operations, he was a general manager of the Oakland Raiders and Oakland Oaks (ABA team) and for 27 years was an executive and scout for the Sacramento Kings. Gordon “Scotty” Stirling died in 2015 at age 86.

Two years after Quintana’s 18-strikeout no-hitter at Encinal, the Jets had a 1958 squad that included future major leaguers Tommy Harper, Curt Motton and Willie Stargell. Paul recalled that Tommy was a sophomore on the varsity in 1956 but that Stargell was still on the JV team. The field at the school is now named in the late Stargell’s honor. He was inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988.

Thanks, Paul, for taking the time to let us know about one game played more than 60 years ago. It’s never too late to report a possible record.

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