Steve Luebber‘s Twins pitching career was relatively short, just 58 games with 24 starts in parts of three seasons (71, 72, and 76). But on this day Luebber felt confident, he was facing the Rangers for the second time in a two-week period and he was coming off of a complete game shutout of the Oakland A’s. After 6 perfect innings, Luebber had faced 18 batters and retired everyone one of them and the Twins had staked him to a 3-0 lead. In the 7th the Rangers loaded the bases with 2 walks and an error but Luebber buckled down and retired Toby Harrah for the final out of the inning and the no-hitter was still in play. Luebber retired the Rangers 1-2-3 in the 8th inning and went on to retire the first two batters in the ninth inning and was one batter away from a no-no. Roy Howell was the Texas batter and Lubber had him 2-2 and threw what he thought was strike 3 but umpire Art Frantz didn’t see it that way and the count went full. Luebber tried a fastball again but this time Howell hit a sharp single to center and the normally slick fielding Lyman Bostock let the ball get past him and Howell ended up on third base. The next batter, Mike Hargrove followed with a single and Howell scored and Luebber had lost both his no-hitter and the shutout. At this point manager Gene Mauch had seen enough and brought in reliever Bill Campbell who struck out Jeff Burroughs to end the game, preserve the victory for Luebber and the Twins were 3-1 winners in Arlington Stadium.
Luebber is and has been the pitching coach for the Wilmington Blue Rocks since 2007. Wilmington is an “A” ball affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. He has also coached in the Padres, Orioles, Rangers and Marlins organizations.
Although several Twins pitchers have come close on a couple of occasions the Twins still have not had one of their pitchers throw a perfect game.