Nottebart, Houston franchise's first
no-hit pitcher, dies
Oct. 6, 2007, 12:26AM
Don Nottebart, who pitched the first no-hitter in Houston franchise history for the Colt .45s in 1963, died Thursday in Cypress. Nottebart, a native of West Newton, Mass., was 71 and had been in declining health after suffering a recent stroke.
On May 17, 1963, Nottebart beat Philadelphia 4-1 at Colt Stadium, the first of 10 no-hitters in the history of the franchise. Philadelphia scored an unearned run in the fifth inning on a two-base error, sacrifice bunt and sacrifice fly.
"I know that after they scored that run, it kind of broke the silence you have during a no-hitter," outfielder Carl Warwick said Friday. "We were more interested in winning the game.
"Afterward, I remember for the longest time everybody asked us, 'How in the world do you give up a run and pitch a no-hitter?' "
Warwick, who still lives in the Houston area, was 4-for-4 and hit a home run in the first inning. After the Phillies' unearned run in the fifth, Warwick had a single in the sixth inning that was instrumental in a three-run rally.
Nottebart retired 14 of the final 16 batters he faced, issuing two of his three walks. The final out came when Philadelphia's Wes Covington, hitting .360 at the time, hit a fly ball to left field caught by Al Spangler.
"I remember kind of jumping up in the air to make the catch," said Spangler, who also lives in the Houston area. "I couldn't wait for it to get to me."
Spangler and Nottebart had come up to the majors with the Milwaukee Braves before coming to Houston. They were roommates on the road with both the Braves and Colt .45s. They also were teammates with the 1969 Chicago Cubs.
That was Nottebart's final season of a nine-year career in which he had a 36-51 record, 21 saves and a 3.65 ERA.
"He was a great competitor," Warwick said. "I think Don probably had the first real fast-moving slider I can remember. When that pitch was on, he could be fantastic."
In his no-hitter, Nottebart struck out eight and improved his record to 5-1. For the season, Nottebart was 11-8 with a 3.17 ERA, quite an accomplishment, considering the Colt .45s were 66-96 in 1963, their second year of existence.
"We didn't score many runs, so for a guy to win 11 games was really something," Spangler said.
Nottebart was with Houston until 1965, when he was 4-15 with a 4.67 ERA in the team's first season in the Astrodome. He was acquired by Cincinnati in the 1965 offseason.
Nottebart lived in southwest Houston for about 25 years after his retirement from baseball in 1969. In recent years, he and his wife Joanne split time between homes in East Wakefield, N.H., and the Houston area.
In addition to his wife of 51 years, Nottebart is survived by three sons and one daughter. A private memorial service is pending at Klein Funeral Home in Tomball.