CHATHAM, NJ – Paul Ness has a large library of videos in his home and all of them star a certain right-handed pitcher – his son, Mike.
On Thursday, July 11, the elder Ness will be reminded of the day that he decided to stop videotaping his son’s games. That’s because on July 11, 2012, Mike Ness threw a no-hitter for the Newark Bears and it was the first game his father didn’t tape since he was in high school.
“I’d been videotaping every game that he ever did and I said, ‘You know what, enough is enough,’ and then he threw the no-hitter,” said Paul Ness, who owns a service station on Main Street in Chatham. “Actually the team videoed it and for some reason they only gave me five innings, but that was worth having anyhow. Other than that, I haven’t been taping him.”
The July 11 no-hitter Mike Ness spun a year ago was definitely worth taping, and not just because it was a no-hitter. Ness, a resident of Chatham, completed the unusual feat despite six errors by his teammates. Ness still managed to pitch a 3-0 shutout over the Quebec Capitals, throwing 123 pitches over nine innings. He struck out eight and walked one.
“I was definitely thinking about the no-hitter,” Mike Ness said. “It was funny because Ralph Citarella (Bears pitching coach) didn’t know what was going on. There were always runners on base, so he had no idea I had a no-hitter. No one else on the team was talking to me except him. He helped keep the mood light.”
By way of strange coincidence, Ness will make his season debut for the Bears on the anniversary of his no-hitter. The 25-year-old was placed on the inactive list 30 days ago as part of a roster juggling move by the Bears.
The club thought he could return to the active roster a few days later, but Canadian-American Association (Can-Am) rules require 19 days on the inactive list. And because the Bears have been on a long road trip, Ness will make his first start of the season on Thursday, July 11 when the Bears will play the Rockland Boulders, 6:35 p.m. at Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium in Newark
Ness, 9-2 with a 3.24 ERA for the Bears last season, was credited with the first no-hitter in the Can-Am league since 2008.
“It was a warm July day and my arm felt great,” Ness said. “That day I had the curveball to go with my sinker and cutter.”
Paul Ness was a pitcher himself before he turned his attention to his son, coaching him throughout his youth.
“My dad always played 30-and-over baseball and he pitched, so that’s how I got into pitching,” Ness said. “I have a lot of fond memories of growing up and playing games at Nash Field and the Castle Park field on Shunpike.”
Ness was a standout at Seton Hall Prep in West Orange, where his father began his video collection. He went to Duke on a scholarship and was drafted twice. As a junior in 2009, the San Francisco Giants picked him before he signed with the Houston Astros as a senior in 2010, selected in the 33rd round.
“I pitched a lot out of the bullpen at Duke, but I always wanted to be a starter,” Ness said.
Paul Ness is sure to be at the July 11 game to watch his son, but he isn’t sure the video camera will come along.
“Will I video it? Probably not,” Ness said. “I have all kinds of games, regular season, state tournament games. Nobody watches them.”
Someday, he’ll watch the first five innings of the no-hitter he received from the Bears and shake his head about the one game he decided not to tape.
“I told him that it was his fault that I didn’t pitch a no-hitter earlier,” Mike Ness said. “He should have stopped taping sooner.”