Minor League Baseball is known for its rich history dating back more than 100 years. While much has been written about the best teams and top players who have graced the Minors, there remain many stories either untold or largely forgotten. Each week, MiLB.com will attempt to fill that gap
Minor League Baseball is known for its rich history dating back more than 100 years. While much has been written about the best teams and top players who have graced the Minors, there remain many stories either untold or largely forgotten. Each week, MiLB.com will attempt to fill that gap and explore these historical oddities in our new feature, "Cracked Bats."
Charlie Gorin was already well known in Austin, Texas. A bit of a local legend, you might say.
He had served his country in two wars, sandwiching those stints in the service around his time at the University of Texas. Gorin helped the Longhorns win back-to-back College World Series titles in 1949-50, earning himself a place in that institution's Hall of Fame.
So by the time he helped pitch Austin to a Texas League title in 1959, his status among the city's sporting elite had already been cemented. He led the circuit in strikeouts (143) and ERA (2.95) that season, but what he did in the postseason permanently etched Gorin's name in the Texas League record books.
The Texas League and the Mexican League played the inaugural Pan American Series that year, a five-game affair featuring the league champions. It turned out to be a tightly contested series, coming down to the fifth game on Sept. 19 at Disch Field in Austin. And who better to have on the mound than Austin's favorite son?
Though Gorin had already lost Game 2, he made history that afternoon, tossing the only no-hitter in the deciding game of a championship series in Texas League history as the Senators bested the Mexico City Red Devils, 2-0.
"This was my hometown, so that made it really good," said Gorin, 79. "It was exciting to pitch in a game like that. We had a good ballclub that year. We were part of the Braves' farm system, and they had a good system with a lot of good young players. I got a lot of recognition for it. I played here for UT, and then to come back [and play for Austin] was like frosting on the cake.
"People sent me gifts. I got a suit. You have to remember, back in those years, money was scarce. I still hear about it from kids that were there. They're grown now and in their 50's. But I play a lot of golf and I still run into them."
Gorin certainly gave the folks in Austin good reason to remember him. The no-hitter, however, proved to be the final hurrah in his decade-long career, ending what was a bittersweet run in professional baseball.
After Gorin graduated from Texas, he helped Milwaukee, then in the American Association, to win the 1951 Junior World Series crown. His performance that season earned him a call from the Boston Braves and a Major League contract. But before Gorin, a World War II vet, could join the club, he was notified that the Navy had called him back to active duty, costing him two prime seasons of his career.
"When I got that Major League contract, that was like being in heaven," Gorin said. "But when I got called back to active duty, it was like getting kicked in the butt. There were a lot of guys like that in the service [including Ted Williams]. I was pitching for the Navy and making a hundred bucks a month when I should have been playing pro ball."
The Braves honored the southpaw's contract when he got out of the service and he actually worked 10 innings in the Major Leagues during the 1954 and '55 seasons. But he didn't stick with the parent club, and by the time the Pan American Series took place at the end of the 1959 season, Gorin was already thinking of retirement. He was an educator and a career in teaching was about to unfold, but not before he made history against Mexico City.
Gorin was perfect through four innings before Marv Williams dribbled a 3-1 offering down the third-base line to open the fifth. Austin third baseman Pepper Thomas mishandled the slow roller and was charged with an error. Williams then reached second after Gorin uncorked a wild pitch, but got no further. Gorin whiffed the next two batters before inducing an inning-ending popup from Roger Herrscher, spiking the Red Devils' only threat.
"I realized I had a no-hitter probably in the fifth or sixth inning," Gorin said. "It was a real hot day, and one of the outfielders was dipping a towel in ice water in the dugout and squeezing it out over my head. I have a picture of me peeking out from underneath that towel."
Karl Drews tossed a six-hitter for Mexico City, but allowed unearned runs in the first and fourth innings to give Gorin all the cushion he needed. Gorin breezed through the final four innings to give Austin the title.
"They made a big hullabaloo about it, with headlines and so forth," Gorin said. "It was my only no-hitter in pro ball."
Gorin pitched one more season before going into teaching full time. He and his wife, Martha, will celebrate their 51st anniversary next month and the couple still lives in Texas. Gorin has recovered from a heart attack and a bout with prostate cancer in recent years, but he's back playing golf and getting around, serving as one of Austin's favorite unofficial ambassadors.
Kevin Czerwinski is a reporter for MLB.com.