TORONTO — The memories came rushing back for Candice Ballouli when she heard about Canadian pitcher James Paxton’s performance for the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night in Toronto.
She thought back to the time she had spent with her father — Richard (Dick) Fowler — the only other Canadian to throw a no-hitter in the major leagues. Fowler, who had a 10-year career with the Philadelphia Athletics, held the St. Louis Browns hitless in a 1-0 win at Shibe Park in September 1945.
Paxton allowed three walks in a 5-0 win over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. The home and road broadcasters frequently weighed in on his Canadian roots during the game and often included details on Fowler’s performance from nearly 73 years ago.
“I didn’t sleep much last night because everybody was just letting me know,” Ballouli said. “It was very heartwarming and really emotional.”
Ballouli was a toddler when Fowler was wrapping up his big-league career. Reached Wednesday in Santa Clara, Calif., she recalled the fond memories of being bounced on her father’s knee and playing catch with him after he retired.
She heard from a number of friends and family members once Paxton completed the feat.
“It’s just amazing,” she said. “I was surprised that it hadn’t been done since ‘45. It made it really special.”
Unlike Paxton, Fowler was in the dugout when his no-hitter was completed. He allowed four walks over nine hitless innings before Irv Hall drove in Hal Peck for a 1-0 walkoff victory.
“It was a wonderful feeling when we got that one run,” Fowler said in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch game story. “I got a thrill all over.”
The six-foot-five right-hander played for the Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League in 1940 before the Athletics purchased his contract later in the year. He made four starts for Philadelphia in 1941 and made 31 appearances the following season, including one game where he pitched 16 innings in a 1-0 loss.
The Toronto native served with the Canadian Army for about three years during the Second World War before returning to the Athletics in 1945. He made two relief appearances before tossing the no-hitter in front of 16,755 fans in Game 2 of a double-header that breezed along in just one hour 15 minutes.
Lou Finney gave Fowler a scare in the top of the ninth inning that day with a deep drive to right field that was foul. In the bottom half, Peck led off with a triple and scored on Hall’s single to centre field off hard-luck Browns starter Ox Miller.
“When he threw his no-hitter, that was his first game back (as a starter),” Ballouli said. “That was always special to me.”
Fowler, who settled in Oneonta, N.Y., was a workhorse for the Athletics, throwing at least 200 innings per season from 1946-49.
He finished his career with a 66-79 record and 4.11 earned-run average over 221 appearances (170 starts).
“They have his no-hitter ball in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, which was always something special when I took the grandkids to go see that,” Ballouli said. “That was always a special memory too.”
Fowler was 51 when he died in 1972.
He was posthumously inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985.