Ernie Pastornicky's arm hurt. To compensate, the Seattle University pitcher used his fastball only sparingly. Anyone with a foot on the rubber and an eye on the catcher's mitt should feel such pain or have such limitations.
Over two seasons, the righthander tossed four no-hitters for the Chieftains, including three in the spring of 1953. None was more meaningful than the one he fashioned on May 2 that year against the University of Washington at Sicks' Stadium -- because of the inner-city rivalry involved and the fact that a Division I team couldn't touch him.
Pastornicky beat the Huskies 1-0 in the seven-inning opener, sending SU on its way to a 5-4 victory in the nightcap and a sweep of the UW.
"He was very savvy," fellow SU pitcher John Kelly said. "He had a good baseball head on his shoulders."
With Seattle U returning to full Division I championship eligibility for the first time in 33 years -- when the Redhawks host Washington in a women's soccer match at Championship Field on Aug. 17 -- this is the ninth in a series of 33 stories replaying memorable SU events previously held at the NCAA's top level (1952-80).
On a cloudy day in Seattle nearly 60 years ago, with pleasure boats filling up nearby Lake Washington for the annual Opening Day crew races and parade, Pastornicky was in trouble only once, when he gave up two of his four walks in the third inning. Otherwise, the Huskies didn't bother him a bit.
The righthander, a Perth Amboy, N.J., product who wore thick glasses, struck out just three batters, relying mostly on grounders to pick up his outs, and he outdueled UW starter Bill Reams, who tossed a five-hitter.
"He had a zippy fastball and he had good control," Kelly said. "Later in his career his velocity was down, and I think that was because of his arm trouble."
SU collected the only run it needed in the second inning, when Bill Collier drew a walk, moved to second on a groundout and scored on Fred Boehm's single to right.
After he logged his final out against the Huskies, Pastornicky was lifted up and carried off the field by SU teammates Arch Guinasso, Dan Ginsberg and Bob Ward in a triumphant scene that appeared on the sports pages of the next day's Seattle Times.
Pastornicky earlier had thrown a no-hitter against Puget Sound and, after muffling the Huskies, he picked up his third hitless game against Pacific Lutheran, striking out 12 batters in the latter outing. In 1954, he fired a no-hitter at Pacific Lutheran for a second time, allowing no balls to leave the infield in a smothering effort.
He was so dominating that people forgot about that tenderness in his arm fairly quickly. They also got used to his dominance.
In that spring of '53, when Pastornicky later gave up a pair of hits in a 9-1 victory over Portland, the wise-guy remark was that Ernie had "an off day."