- Senior writer ESPN Magazine/ESPN.com
- Analyst/reporter ESPN television
- Author of “The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty”
LOS ANGELES — Joe Musgrove has been promised free beer for life by a local establishment, San Diego’s Ballast Point Brewing, so that’s no empty promise. Two restaurants have told him he gets free sandwiches for life, and given the existence of a Tony Gwynn sandwich and a Tony Hawk sandwich, it’s possible that he will have a meal named for him. The small coffee shop that his parents own just outside San Diego, has been overrun with patrons in recent weeks.
“Dude, it’s unbelievable,” Musgrove said over the phone.
This is what can happen when you become the first Padres’ pitcher to throw a no-hitter after a wait of more than a half-century. And it is what happens when you are a San Diegan yourself. Musgrove’s alma mater, Grossmont High School, is 14 miles from Petco Park. As Musgrove was in the midst of his no-hitter against the Rangers on April 9, he was fully aware of the franchise history he was shaping.
However, Musgrove has only just begun to experience the life-changing ripples from his no-hitter, which will now go a long way toward defining his baseball legacy and how he is perceived by fans and his community. Musgrove is just emerging as a big-league star, bearing a 1.04 ERA in his first four starts this season as he takes the mound against the Dodgers on “Sunday Night Baseball” (7 p.m. ET on ESPN). No matter what else he accomplishes for the Padres or for the rest of his career, that no-hitter, near-perfection — the only Ranger reaching base came when Musgrove hit Joey Gallo with a pitch in the fourth inning — will be the prism through which many others remember him, and honor him in perpetuity.
“It puts you on the map, no matter where you go,” said David Wells, the longtime pitcher who threw a perfect game for the Yankees. “It puts you in the book.”
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