By Bill Paterson
Tom Crisp called the four consecutive no-hit game performance of East Nicolaus' senior pitcher John Kukuruda "an amazing feat" in his e-mail to this reporter.
But the longtime Winters High School athletic director also wanted another amazing feat recognized, especially after Kukuruda was credited with a new state record by Cal-Hi Sports Record Book & Almanac, the recognized source for state high school records.
That started the wheels turning to acknowledge the truly remarkable performance of then Winters junior left-hander Byron Randolph 47 seasons ago.
As it turns out, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound right-handed Kukuruda has only tied the state record. The 5-11, 170-pound Randolph also threw four consecutive no-hitters in 1963.
Even more impressive: Randolph's 34 consecutive no-hit innings that season.
But the only person who appeared to know about it, at least until Monday, was Crisp, who has been researching Winters sports history the last two years.
Before Kukuruda's 10-0, five-inning no-hit win over Hamilton on Friday, Lloyd Allen of Selma had been recognized by Cal-Hi as the consecutive no-hit leader with three set in 1967. Jared Moon of Redondo Union also was listed as the record holder for consecutive no-hit innings with 23 set in 1996. Kukuruda has thrown 22 1/3 straight no-hit innings.
Although Crisp had sent documentation of Randolph's exploits earlier to Cal-Hi, it somehow ended up in limbo in the company's Southern California office. A search of Bee archives confirmed much of what Crisp was reporting.
After a few e-mail exchanges and some further digging, Cal-Hi founder and Senior Editor Mark Tennis agreed that Randolph's exploits were legit and posted an article on its web-site Tuesday confirming the new records.
Randolph's run is pretty impressive based on Crisp's information and reports in The Bee. Here's the short of it:
April 23 vs. Benicia, 14 strikeouts.
April 30 vs. Davis, 18 strikeouts.
May 3 vs. Clarksburg, 19 strikeouts in an eight-innings 1-0 win.
May 17 vs. Rio Vista, 16 strikeouts in a 1-0 win.
In his two starts that followed, Randolph threw one-hitters.
According to a Bee article published June 23, 1964 after Randolph signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he had a career record of 42-3, including 15 no-hitters (Crisp has only been able to confirm 10).
Randolph pitched four seasons in the minors - he went to the Baltimore Orioles spring training camp in 1965 with another rookie pitcher, Jim Palmer - including three with the Stockton Ports. But he never got above Class A after blowing out his shoulder. He finished 12-25 with a 3.53 ERA.
In what may be the biggest irony of all, however, is that the 64-year-old Randolph lives in Live Oak and was the East Nicolaus baseball coach in 1974. Randolph said he coached baseball at Marysville until 1990 and retired from the school three years ago.
Until contacted by The Bee, Randolph knew nothing about Kukuruda's exploits or that he is a state record holder.
"I wish him luck," said Randolph, who may try to drop by Tuesday when Kukuruda is scheduled to pitch next. "I hope he breaks the record. That makes the game better."