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Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

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Playboy pitcher throws no-hitter, August 20, 1968



Bo Belinsky throws a no-hitter in 1962
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.

 

Bo Belinsky and Mamie Van Doren, 1963
Los Angeles Times file photo

April 1963: Bo Belinsky and fiancee Mamie Van Doren skip the Baseball Writers Annual Awards banquet to go dancing.
August 20, 1968

By Keith Thursby
Times staff writer

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.

Bo Belinsky and Mamie Van Doren 1992
Photograph by Gary Ambrose /
Los Angeles Times
June 1992: Bo Belinsky and Mamie Van Doren appear with Angels owner Gene Autry before a Legends of Baseball game.
By 1968 Belinsky was back in the minor leagues, pitching for Hawaii. The Times ran a short story about his no-hitter in a Pacific Coast League game over Tacoma. Even then, the wire story referred to him as "the playboy pitcher."

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."

keith.thursby@latimes.com



       
 
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