Not tempting fate: Cubs announcer doesn’t mention ‘no-hitter’ in Arrietta’s big game

I was at the grocery store when I looked at my phone and saw that Jake Arrietta had a no-hitter through six innings. I told my wife to finally make a decision on her gelato because we had to leave right away.

The drive home allowed me to listen to the great Pat Hughes, who will be in Cooperstown one day, call the seventh and eighth innings on Cubs radio, WBBM-AM 780.

Apparently, Hughes subscribes to the superstition that if he mentions “no-hitter” the pitcher’s dream will disappear with the very next pitch. Realizing he had to inform his audience of Arrietta’s bid, Hughes repeatedly said that he hadn’t given up a hit.

After Arrietta got a single in the seventh, Hughes even joked that he “now has more hits than the team he is pitching against.”

However, still no mention of no-hitter until after Chase Utley struck out to end the game.

Hughes did his job to preserve history.

The Tribune’s Paul Sullivan did a nice column about listening to Hughes’ call.

Time is called. Can I get a beer from the fridge? No, better stay here.

“If you feel like you can’t sit still, you are not alone,” Hughes says.

He’s right. I’m standing here for no reason about two feet from the TV. The last time the Cubs threw a no-hitter was at Miller Park in 2008, when Carlos Zambrano no-hit the Astros, who were playing there because of Hurricane Ike. It was much easier sitting in a press box writing on deadline than standing two feet from a TV with the radio broadcast a few seconds ahead of the TV broadcast.

Utley fouls one off, a 96-mph fastball. Arrieta gets a new ball. A breaking ball bounces in to make it 1-2.

“Arrieta tugs at the cap,” Hughes says. “Six-foot-four-inch, bearded right-hander. Again, looks very calm. … And the pitch. A swing and a miss. A no-hitter! Jake Arrieta has just pitched a no-hitter at Dodger Stadium.”

Outside my window I can hear the crowd erupt at the bar next door as Arrieta is mobbed by his teammates. A magical moment a couple thousand miles away feels like it’s being celebrated all over town.


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