The former right-hander, who won the 1964 Cy Young Award with the Angels when there was only one awarded for each league, died Sunday at his 300-acre farm in Wooster, Ohio. He was 74.
His 1962 Topps rookie card, card No. 194, is not particularly valuable. But of the 183 cards submitted to PSA for grading, not one graded a 10 and only two were PSA-9s. The highest grade he got for an SGC-graded card was 96 — and that was the only one out of 16 submitted.
Chance was a 6-foot-3 right-hander who threw hard. His windup was unnerving. He would turn his back away from the hitter, then spin and hurl the ball toward the plate, many times sidearm. Think Luis Tiant, but with a lot more speed. Right-handed hitters did not dig in against Chance.
At Northwestern High School in Wayne, Ohio, he tossed 17 no-hitters, setting a state record with eight in a season (he did that in back-to-back seasons). He also was a star basketball player and led the Huskies to a 29-0 record and a state title in 1958, and a state semifinal berth in 1959.
Not surprisingly, Chance was a charter member of the Wayne County Sports Hall of Fame and Ohio Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976. He also was inducted into the Angels’ Hall of Fame this season, along with Mike Witt and Tim Salmon. And in 2014, he was inducted into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame & Museum.
In August 1967, he threw two no-hitters for the Minnesota Twins, including a five-inning perfect game (which is no longer considered an official one).
On August 6 against Boston, he retired all 15 batters he faced in a 2-0 victory to improve to 14-8. He outdueled Red Sox ace (and eventual American League Cy Young Award winner) Jim Lonborg, who fell to 15-5. The game was called in the bottom of the fifth due to rain; ironically, the final batter of the game was Chance, who struck out.
The victory left the Twins and Red Sox tied for second place, 2 ½ games behind the Chicago White Sox.
On August 25, Chance threw a complete game, 2-1 no-hitter against Cleveland in the second game of a doubleheader. Chance was wild in the first inning, walking the first two batters he faced. With one out, Tony Horton reached on an error to load the bases, and then Chance threw a wild pitch to give Cleveland a 1-0 lead.
But he settled down, walking only three more batters and striking out eight to improve his record to 17-9. It was the second no-hitter since the Minnesota franchise moved from Washington after the 1960 season. The first was tossed by Jack Kralick, nearly five years to the day earlier (August 26, 1962), against the Kansas City Athletics.
Chance’s no-hitter propelled the Twins into first place by a half-game over the White Sox and Red Sox, as the 1967 A.L. pennant race remained red-hot.
Chance and Lonborg would face each other on the final day of the season, but this time the Red Sox ace prevailed in a 5-3 victory at Fenway Park. Chance was charged with all five Boston runs in the bottom of the sixth, which erased a 2-0 lead by the Twins. The win gave Boston the A.L. pennant.
Lonborg won the Cy Young Award with 18 of 20 possible votes; Chance, who went 20-14, did not receive a vote. Chicago’s Joe Horlen, who went 19-7, got the other two votes.
Things were different in 1964, when Chance went 20-9 with a 1.65 ERA for the Los Angeles Angels and received 17 ½ of a possible 20 votes. He outpointed Chicago Cubs pitcher Larry Jackson, who won 24 games; and Sandy Koufax, who went 19-5. Had Koufax won the Cy Young that year, he would have won four straight, since he took the award in 1963, 1965 and 1966.
At the time, Chance was the youngest pitcher to win the Cy Young (he was 23).
After the 1967 season, Chance’s numbers fell off. He had arm trouble in 1969 and was out of major-league baseball after the 1971 season.
For many years, he worked in the carnival business, owning more than 100 of those games where you could win a teddy bear for doing things like knocking down a target with a ball, for example.
In 1994 he founded the International Boxing Association and promoted fights. He ran the IBA from the basement of his house.
To remember Chance, here are a few of his cards through the years.