This pitcher’s no-no helped spark the ’77 KC Royals

(Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images) /

The 1977 KC Royals season was legendary. The club posted what is still a franchise high 102 wins and won its second consecutive American League West title.

What helped the Royals get to that club record mark was great hitting, most notably from George Brett and Al Cowens, who both hit .312, and spectacular pitching from 20-game winner Dennis Leonard, who also posted a 3.04 ERA and struck out 244.

Another player who had a fantastic 1977 season was Jim Colborn. Acquired before the season with Darrell Porter in a trade with the Brewers, Colborn had spent the previous three years posting losing records.

However, an excellent start to Colborn’s Kansas City tenure helped him achieve a winning mark for the first time since he went 20-12 in 1973 with Milwaukee.

Jim Colborn started well, winning four of his first five KC Royals decisions.

Colborn got off to an electric start in his first year with Kansas City. In his first start April 10 against Detroit, he led the way to a 5-0 KC win with by pitching six shutout innings. Five days later, he experienced a reversal of fortunes when he yielded four runs in five innings to the Tigers, who won 4-3.

But he threw a complete game against Minnesota his next time out and the Royals won 11-3. Then, he struck out nine in eight innings against Seattle April 24 to get his third win; it didn’t hurt that Hal McRae, Al Cowens and Freddie Patek each drove in three runs as Kansas City won 16-1.

Colborn continued his success against Toronto April 29, tossing a one-run complete game to help secure a 6-1 KC victory.

But, after losing two in a row, Colborn’s greatest outing came May 14 when he did something only one Royals pitcher had ever done before him.

Jim Colborn made his mark in Royals history by tossing their third no-hitter.

At that point in 1977, only one Royals pitcher had ever tossed a no-hitter. That man was, of course, Steve Busby, who had thrown the club’s first and second no-nos. And when Colborn took the mound May 14, he probably wasn’t expecting to throw the third.

He was dealing early on: he had no trouble in the first two innings and struck two in the third before his teammates staked him to a 2-0 lead in their half of the inning.

The first difficulty for Colborn came in the top of the fifth inning when, after striking out Willie Horton and Tom Grieve, he hit Toby Harrah, who then stole second. Undeterred, Colborn struck out Bump Willis to end the threat.

The second sign of trouble came the next inning when future Royal Jim Sundberg walked, but then Juan Beníquez hit into a double play and Colborn retired Claudell Washington to end the inning. The Royals scored twice in the bottom half of the inning to extend their lead to 4-0.

From there, Colborn continued to send Texas down in order—he retired the first 14 and last 11 Rangers he faced. Two additional Kansas City runs made the final 6-0.

Other than holding Texas hitless, Colborn struck out six and walked only one.

He ended the season 18-14 but was relegated to mainly a relief role in 1978, and was 1-2 with a 4.76 ERA before KC traded him to Seattle June 1.

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Jim Colborn’s good 1977 start and May no-hitter helped the KC Royals to their winningest season.