Kasper: Calling a no-hitter never gets old for broadcasters
There's nothing better for a baseball broadcaster than calling a no-hitter.
On April 21 in Cincinnati, Jake Arrieta threw his second no-hitter in his last 11 starts. It was the third one I've had the pleasure of broadcasting. I was behind the mic for Carlos Zambrano's neutral site no-no in 2008, and then Cole Hamels' gem at Wrigley Field last year.
For those wondering, I did not call Jake Arrieta's first no-hitter last August. It was an ESPN Sunday Night game. I was in the radio booth that night with Pat Hughes, Ron Coomer and Mark Grote. I called the fifth inning and then was in the Cubs dugout right after the game and interviewed Arrieta and his batterymate, Miguel Montero.
A quick side note on that. While it would have been great to call that game on television, being down on the field just after the final out was a rare treat. It really made me feel like I was a part of it. I was thrilled for Pat Hughes, who nailed the final out call (as always) and eternally grateful to the radio guys for letting me be a small part of it.
On the three I have called, all have their own special place in history.
Zambrano's took place in Milwaukee against the Houston Astros, becoming the first neutral site no-hitter. The series was shifted to Miller Park because of Hurricane Ike, which was wreaking havoc on the Houston area.
I remember telling myself not to regret underselling the call of the final out. In retrospect, I might have given it a bit too much "juice," but considering it was the Cubs' first no-hitter since 1972 and the first of my career, I can live with that.
I asked Zambrano during our post-game interview if he knew who the last Cub was to throw a no-no and without a pause he said, "Milt Pappas!" I loved that he knew that. Not every pitcher would in that situation.
The Hamels game was noteworthy because it ended a record streak. It was the first time the Cubs had been no-hit since 1965 when Sandy Koufax was perfect against them in Los Angeles, leaving 7,920 games between no-hit offensive games for the Cubs.
The final play was hair-raising as Phillies' center fielder Odubel Herrera got tied up on the warning track before leaving his feet and barely snagging Kris Bryant's deep drive to preserve the no-hitter.
I was really under the weather that day and my voice particularly weak. I gutted through it and I'm sure I sounded fairly normal to the average viewer. But it was a struggle to get through the game with my voice intact.
During Arrieta's no-hitter in Cincinnati, I asked our production team in the top of the ninth if we could eliminate the commercial break to watch Jake warm up for the final three outs. Our producer Marc Brady loved the idea and got clearance.
Jim Deshaies was brilliant throughout the game, as usual.
And I was pleased with my call of the final out. I scripted a couple quick lines after which I would lay out and let the moment speak for itself. I exclaimed, "It's a no-hitter!" and "Jake Arrieta has done it again!" which felt right. When we put Jake on the headset from the field, he greeted us with "What's up boys?" which was just perfect.
Every no-hitter has its own rhythm, its own vibe. You learn as you go in this job. And it never gets old.
• Len Kasper is entering his 12th season as the television play-by-play voice for the Chicago Cubs. Follow him on Twitter@LenKasper.