Before Johan, Mets have had many close calls

Before Johan, Mets have had many close calls

Thanks to Johan Santana, the Mets celebrated the first no-hitter in franchise history on Friday night. As any Mets fan knows, there have been many near-misses over the past 50 years.

"Wow. Amazing," Santana said on the field following the Mets' 8-0 historic victory over the Cardinals. "I'm very happy, and I'm happy for you guys [the fans], finally, the first one."

The Mets -- and more specifically, Tom Seaver -- had flirted with throwing no-hitters in the past, but had never completed the feat. Seaver threw five one-hitters over his 12 years in a Mets uniform and carried a no-hit bid into the ninth inning on three separate occasions.

Johan Santana
No-han!

One of Seaver's near-no-hitters is famously dubbed as the "Imperfect Game" on July 9, 1969. Carrying a perfect game into the ninth inning, Seaver retired the first batter before allowing a single to the Cubs' Jimmy Qualls.

Three years later, Seaver was again tagged for a one-out single in the ninth, this time by the Padres' Leron Lee on July 4, 1972.

Seaver's final close call was also against the Cubs on Sept. 24, 1975. In what turned into a three-hitter, Seaver held the Cubs hitless for 8 2/3 innings before conceding a two-out single to right fielder Joe Wallis.

Even if Seaver had retired Wallis, he still would have had more work to finish the deal, as the Mets were locked in a scoreless tie. Seaver pitched into the 10th, where he allowed two more hits before turning the game over to reliever Skip Lockwood to start the 11th. Lockwood issued a bases-loaded walk, as the Cubs beat the Mets, 1-0.

With all of those late-game misses already in the franchise's history books, Santana started an entirely new chapter Friday night when he got David Freese to swing and miss at a changeup to officially slam the door shut.

"[It was] for everybody," Santana said when asked if he understood the historical impact his gem has on the franchise. "I knew that the Mets never had a no-hitter -- and I never had one -- so this is very special. This is very, very special and I know this means a lot to New York."

Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @paul_casella. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.