Coast Baseball Legend Chris Taranto
Six consecutive no-hitters, nine no-hitters for the season and 12 career no-hitters, all national records set by Biloxi native and Notre Dame Baseball star Chris Taranto back in the 1960s.
Today marks the 55th anniversary of his three page spread in “Life” magazine. Taranto passed away two years ago, but News 25’s Kristen Durand introduces us to his brother Stephen, who still lives to tell his story.
When Stephen Taranto was in second grade, he remembers watching his big brother play ball. “He was my big brother, my hero.”
Chris Taranto grew up with a passion for baseball. In 1961, he was a senior at Notre Dame High School in Biloxi when he pitched six consecutive no-hitters and set a national record. “He pitched nine no-hitters that year,” said Stephen, “which, after 55 years that’s still the record, national record. In his junior year, he pitched, I think it was two no-hitters and I think his sophomore year, he pitched one no-hitter. So, he had a lifetime of 12.”
On May 19th, 1961, Taranto scored a spot in the popular “Life” magazine. He was set to be on the cover until Alan Shepard became the first American in space, but even still, a three page spread chronicled his feats. “They called him boy wonder from Biloxi throwing all the no-hitters and had some action shots of him actually throwing the ball and batters batting against him,” said Stephen.
Chris Taranto was also featured in “Sports Illustrated,” “Newsweek” and local newspapers nationwide and inducted into the Biloxi Sports Hall of Fame in 2012. But Stephen says it wasn’t all about his brother, it was about the whole team. “I was talking to his catcher, Dennis Malpas, a couple of weeks ago. Real nice guy. He was one of the major parts of Chris’ success. In his words, he said, ‘it is unfortunate Chris was born in the 40’s instead of the 80’s because he would have signed for millions.’”
After high school, Chris went on to play for the Houston Colt 45’s, now the Houston Astros. After two years, an arm injury ended his career, but his passion for baseball lived on. “All my life, I was very close with my brother,” said Stephen, “And I’m sorry he’s not here to see this. He would really, really enjoy this.”