John Means made history on Wednesday as the first Baltimore Oriole to throw a complete game no-hitter when he notched 12 strikeouts to beat the Seattle Mariners on the road since 1969.
All of this was playing out on the big screen at Monongalia County Ballpark for his former team, four years and 11 months after he got the call from the O’s to join the organization from West Virginia, as the Mountaineers were getting set to dominate rival Pitt at home, 8-2.
For Randy Mazey, his former skipper, it was pretty cool to watch his former pitcher put his name in the record books.
“Our guys were standing there into it pretty good,” Mazey said. “At the time, we thought it was a perfect game because we didn’t even know about it until the eighth inning.”
There is no doubt that the 28-year-old righty has paid his dues to the sport of baseball. Originally brought to the Mountaineers by Greg Van Zant, Means worked his way up to weekend starter status as part of a pro-loaded roster, which included infielder Ryan McBroom and fellow starter Harrison Musgrave.
As a senior, Means finished 2014 with at 6-2 record in 12 starts with a 3.13 ERA before embarking on his minor league career, where he would spend five seasons.
“He’s a tremendous worker, and [has] a super, super professional approach to everything,” Mazey said.
Means turned a true corner in his career when he cracked Baltimore’s starting rotation in 2019, ending the season leading the team in wins with a 12-11 record and a 3.60 ERA with a spot in the All-Star Game (he and then-Astro Gerrit Cole were the only American League starters who didn’t get action, however).
2020 wasn’t quite as prosperous for Means, who made 10 starts in the shortened season. He put together a record of 2-4 with a 4.53 ERA as Baltimore faltered to 25-35 — fourth in the AL East.
That didn’t shake manager Brandon Hyde’s confidence of Means as he named the WVU alumnus the Orioles’ Opening Day starter. Now, he’s 4-0 in five starts with the third-best ERA in the majors at 1.37. That stat in itself is historic.
By May, he became the third pitcher to toss a no-hitter in 2021, and the first for the Orioles since 1969. In fact, Means retired all 27 batters he faced, but Seattle’s Sam Haggerty was able to take a base on a dropped third strike in the third inning. He was caught stealing on the next pitch.
“It was pretty cool for our guys to see a Mountaineer on the video board doing something that is super, super hard to do, and everybody is really proud of him,” Mazey said. “He’s come so far since he was here with us, you know he was a great pitcher for us, but has really, really developed into what he is right now and all credit goes to him….I couldn’t be happier for Meansy.”