If you go to Cooperstown and read Schalk’s plaque in the Baseball Hall of Fame, that’s what you’d come away believing. Here’s what the plaque says:
“Caught four no-hit games including perfect game in 1922.”
So why is everyone, including the Globe, reporting that Varitek on Monday night became the first catcher to catch four no-hitters?
Because on Sept. 4, 1991, baseball’s committee on statistical accuracy, chaired by Fay Vincent, changed its definition of what a no-hitter was. The committee voted 8-0 to define a no-hitter as a game of nine innings or more that ended with no hits.
The definition eliminated 38 shortened no-hitters and 12 games in which a pitcher threw nine no-hit innings, then gave up a hit in extra innings.
That’s what happened with one of Schalk’s no-hitters. In 1914, Jim Scott of the White Sox had a no-hitter through nine innings, but gave up two hits in the 10th. After ’91, that no longer counted as a no-no.
Schalk caught a no-hitter by Joe Benz in 1914, Eddie Cicotte in 1917 and a perfect game (no hits, no walks, no errors, 27 up, 27 down) by Charlie Robertson in 1922.
Twelve catchers, including Schalk, have caught 3 no-hitters: Alan Ashby, Bill Carrigan, Charles Johnson, Del Crandall, Ed McFarland, Jeff Torborg, Jim Hegan, Luke Sewell, Schalk, Roy Campanella, Silver Flint, and Val Picinich. Yogi Berra would be included if postseason games were added as well, Berra having been behind the plate for Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series.