Los Angeles Times file photo
May 6, 1962: Bo Belinsky of the Angels fires a fast ball at the Baltimore Orioles during his historic no-hitter.
By Keith Thursby
Bo Belinsky would have been something in the era of YouTube. A left-handed pitcher who loved the limelight, he'd probably even have his own blog.
Belinsky had a short, wild career that was filled with potential and problems. He pitched the first no-hitter in Los Angeles major league history for the Angels in 1962 and started his rookie season 5-0.
Ross Newhan, The Times' longtime baseball writer, wrote in 2001 about his first encounter with Belinsky in Palm Springs in 1962.
"There he was sitting by the Desert Inn pool, wearing shades to deflect the sun, a drink in his hand, perfectly at ease in the sparkling environment, as if he was already the toast of the town and this was just one more introductory news conference."
But the bright lights were too much for Belinsky, who dated actresses and got lots of publicity, little of which apparently had to do with his ability to throw a baseball. His photo file in The Times' library has as many shots of nightclubs, press conferences and publicity appearances as pictures of Bo actually pitching. After starting 5-0, he finished 10-11 in 1962. In 1964, he knocked out Braven Dyer, the Times' baseball writer who was 64 at the time, and the Angels had seen enough. They suspended and ultimately traded him to Philadelphia.
Left-handers with potential get plenty of opportunities, and Belinsky made a few more stops before his career ended in 1970. The Angels even purchased his contract in 1969 but soon sold him to the Pirates.
Belinsky died in 2001 at the age of 64 after battling bladder cancer for years. He had struggled with alcohol and drugs but had found peace in his last years, becoming active in a Las Vegas church.
The Times' Chris Foster reported that Belinsky, ever the colorful quote, said of his religious conversion: "Can you imagine? I had to come to Las Vegas to discover Jesus Christ."