On This Date in Sports July 4, 1983: Yankee Doodle Dandy

Dave Righetti is a Yankee Doodle Dandy as he throws a No-Hitter, blanking the Boston Red Sox 4-0 at Yankee Stadium. It was the first No-Hitter thrown by a pitcher on the New York Yankees since Don Larsen’s Perfect Game in the 1956 World Series. It is, to date, the only time that a No-Hitter has been thrown in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.

Dave Righetti was born in San Jose, California, on November 28, 1958. After earning Junior College Player of the Year at San Jose City College, Righetti was chosen by the Texas Rangers with the tenth overall pick in the 1977 draft. Following the 1978 season, Dave Righetti was part of a multiplayer deal that sent Sparky Lyle from the Yankees to the Rangers after he had lost his closer to Goose Gossage. After making his debut as a September call-up, Dave Righetti had his breakthrough in 1981, winning the American League Rookie of the Year with a record of 8-4 and 2.05 ERA. Righetti, nicknamed “Rags,” became an instant fan favorite and did commercials for Prince Spaghetti. In 1982, Dave Righetti had a rough follow-up and was briefly demoted to the minors before finishing the year at 11-10. In his third season, Rags was back on track and had become one of the Yankees' top starters.


It was a hot and humid afternoon in the Bronx as the New York Yankees were closing out the first half with a game against the Boston Red Sox on Independence Day. The Fourth of July was always special for the Yankees as it was the anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s famous Luckiest Man Speech and the birthday of Owner George Steinbrenner. In a tightly bunched American League East, the Yankees, managed by Billy Martin, were in third place at 40-35, while the Red Sox, managed by Ralph Houk, were in fifth place with a record of 39-37.

The Independence Day game against the Red Sox was the final game of a four-game weekend series, with the Yankees looking to salvage a split after losing on Saturday and Sunday. It was also the last game before the All-Star break, with the midsummer classic scheduled two days later in Chicago. The Yankees had Dave Righetti on the mound entering the game with a 9-3 record, while Boston countered with John Tudor, who was 5-4 coming in. Righetti started the game strong striking out three batters while issuing a two-out walk to Jim Rice. He would add two more strikeouts in the second and third innings, while John Tudor got some help from his defense, turning a pair of double plays to keep the game scoreless. 

Both teams went down in order in the fourth inning. In the fifth, Rags recorded his eighth strikeout setting down Dwight Evans. Reid Nichols became Boston's second baserunner but was quickly erased as he was thrown out trying to steal by Butch Wynegar. Dave Stapleton ended the inning with an infield popup Andre Robertson at second. The Yankees put together a rally in the bottom of the fifth, as Steve Kemp and Roy Smalley Jr singled with one out. Robertson followed with a third straight hit to give New York a 1-0 lead. The Yankees could have gotten more as Bert Campanaris walked to load the bases. However, Tudor escaped further damage by striking out Don Mattingly and Dave Winfield. After Righetti made quick work of the Red Sox in the sixth, the Yankees added to their lead on a solo home run by Don Baylor. In the seventh, Rice walked for the second time in the game but was erased when Dave Righetti got Tony Armas to bounce into a 6-4-3 double play. 


After Tudor set down the Yankees in order in the seventh, Righetti continued to close in on history with three harmless fly balls in the eighth. With John Tudor tiring, the Yankees tacked on two more runs in the eighth, with Steve Kemp delivering a two-run single that scored Winfield and Baylor. After Bob Stanley recorded the final out, Dave Righetti took the mound three outs away from a No-Hitter. It was clear there were some nerves for the Yankees lefty as he walked Jeff Newman to start the inning. The next two hitters would hit the ball on the ground, with Glenn Hoffman reaching on fielder’s choice, while Jerry Remy grounded out to first. Leading 4-0 and a runner on second, Dave Righetti ended the game by striking out Wade Boggs, the leading hitter in the American League, who was batting .356 entering the game.

Dave Righetti finished the 1983 season with a 14-8 record, posting an ERA of 3.44, as the Yankees finished in third place with a record of 91-71. In a controversial move, Righetti was moved to the bullpen in 1984, taking over the closer’s role after Goose Gossage signed with the San Diego Padres. Righetti would justify the move by setting a record with 46 saves in 1986.