For one day, Rick Wise was the best player in baseball history. On June 23, 1971, Wise pitched a no-hitter against the defending league champion Cincinnati Reds at Riverfront Stadium. Not content to being only the pitching star of the game, at the plate Wise hit two home runs to supply all he needed to win 4-0. In the game, Wise retired the first 17 Reds he faced before surrendering a walk to Dave Concepcion. He recorded 15 ground ball outs.
Wise ended his 18-year career with a pedestrian 188-181 record and an ERA (3.41) that was basically league average. But when he was on, he was nearly unhittable, and he had several brushes with no-hitters and perfection. In addition to his no-hitter, he tossed four one-hitters in his career for three different teams: August 8, 1968 for the Phillies; June 13, 1973 for the Cardinals; and June 14 and June 29, 1976 for the Red Sox. Also, on July 2, 1975, in the second game of a doubleheader at County Stadium against the Brewers, Wise had a no-hitter broken up with two outs in the ninth inning when George Scott hit a home run. He settled for a two-hit victory.
On September 18, 1971, a few months after no-hitting the Big Red Machine, Wise pitched one of the most amazing games in baseball history. In a Saturday afternoon tilt against the visiting Cubs at Veterans Stadium, Wise was touched up early. He allowed two runs in the first and another in the second to put the Phils in a 3-0 hole. But then he retired 32 consecutive batters from the last out of the second inning into the twelfth. Finally, Ron Santo singled off Wise to break the string, which was four short of the MLB record (for a single game) held by Harvey Haddix. After tossing the 12 innings and allowing just five hits, Wise singled in the winning run in the bottom of the twelfth, earning his 16th win of the season.
Wise is most remembered for two things:
1) He was traded for future Hall of Fame pitcher†Steve Carlton after the 1971 season in a deal that was panned as an utter failure for the Cardinals. But when the deal was made it was not seen as being lopsided. Though he had been in the league for seven season, Wise was actually younger than Carlton, who had great stuff but had yet learned to master his slider. With the Phillies, of course, Carlton blossomed immediately, winning 27 games for a last place team in ’72. But Wise was no slouch, winning 16 games in each of his two seasons with the Cardinals before he was dealt to Boston in another big deal, that one bringing Reggie Smith to the Cardinals.
2) Wise won Game Six of the 1975 World Series, the so-called “Carlton Fisk Game” that Pete Rose dubbed “the greatest game he ever played in.” Wise had started Game Three but been battered around by the Reds. He entered Game Six in the twelfth and pitched a scoreless inning, setting up Pudge’s dramatic homer to win the game.