MLB: 8 months later, Montefusco talks about Giants' no-hitter
By Andrew Baggarly
San Jose Mercury News
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — It took almost 33 years for a San Francisco Giants pitcher to follow up John “The Count” Montefusco’s no-hitter.
And then it took Montefusco almost eight months to talk about it.
Montefusco, 59, ignored a flurry of interview requests after Jonathan Sanchez held the San Diego Padres hitless on July 10. Finally speaking by phone with the Mercury News over the weekend, the 1975 NL rookie of the year said he was reticent to take any spotlight away from the Giants left-hander.
But, yes, Montefusco said he was watching — and rooting.
“I was happy for him,” he said. “I really was.”
Montefusco’s phone always rings off the hook whenever a Giants pitcher makes a serious bid for a no-hitter. It was no different on that otherwise quiet Friday night in July, and he caught the last two innings on television from his home in Las Vegas.
He also got the first call for comment — while the game was still going on.
“It was the Giants cable broadcast,” Montefusco said. “They wanted me to go on the air. What am I going to say? It’s the kid’s game, not mine. For a couple days after that, my phone was ringing off the wall. I just didn’t want to pick it up. First off, if I did one (interview), I’d have to do all of ’em. And it’s the kid’s day. Let him have it.”
Plus, Montefusco wasn’t sure how he’d sound in interviews. He’d have to admit the truth: that he’ll miss his place as the last Giant to throw a no-hitter.
“You know, yes, I will,” said Montefusco, who threw his no-hitter at Atlanta’s now-demolished Fulton County Stadium on Sept. 29, 1976. “But I wanted him to get it. Actually, I wanted to see a perfect game. I missed being perfect by one walk. It was a shame the third baseman (Juan Uribe) made that error (in the eighth inning), but thank God it wasn’t scored a hit.”
Montefusco has experienced imperfection in his post-baseball life.
He battled drug addiction and spent two years in prison before a jury acquitted him on charges of assaulting his ex-wife.
He recently moved back to the New Jersey shore and would like to return to coaching.
Montefusco expects his phone will keep ringing and the “floodgates will open” now that Sanchez ended the no-hitter drought. He said Tim Lincecum is bound to throw a no-hitter.
“And Matt Cain’s got a chance to throw one,” Montefusco said. “They have an unbelievable staff. Sanchez is so talented, maybe he’ll throw another one, too. I think he’ll have a great career.
“It’s all confidence. That’s all it is. He’s got to trust his stuff. He’s got some of the nastiest stuff, and he’s a left-hander to boot. He cannot be afraid to challenge people. Use the fastball to get ahead, then throw some of that nasty stuff.”
Does Montefusco fear he’ll slip a little further from memory now?
“Nah, I did a lot of crazy stuff,” he said. “So I know they’ll never forget me.”
—It appears Barry Zito will be lined up to open as the Giants’ No. 2 starter between Lincecum and Cain. The Giants expect Zito to start Thursday’s home exhibition opener against the Milwaukee Brewers, with Cain taking the mound Friday and Sanchez on Saturday.
—Prospects will dominate an intrasquad game today that is expected to last four or five innings. Rafael Cova, Clayton Tanner, Craig Clark, Dan Turpen, Craig Whitaker and Tony Pena Jr. are on the list to pitch.
—Rain at Scottsdale Stadium limited fundamental drills and kept players off the fields, but hitters were able to take their swings indoors, and the pitchers threw in the bullpen.
“We got a lot done, considering,” manager Bruce Bochy said.