- The Washington Times - Monday, December 3, 2001

Bo Belinsky was not exactly in the best of shape on the night of May 5, 1962, at Dodger Stadium. He had visited a bar on Sunset Strip the previous evening, then spent quality time until morning with a woman he had met there. Now the Los Angeles Angels' rookie right-hander was putting his 3-0 record on the line against the Baltimore Orioles and emerging highly triumphant as the author of major league baseball's first no-hitter on the West Coast.
That's right: The first West Coast no-no was pitched not by Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale or Juan Marichal. It was pitched, four years after the Dodgers and Giants invaded California, by a man who won exactly 27 other games in the majors and whose flamboyant lifestyle attracted much more attention especially from beautiful women than his baseball skills.
Belinsky, who died of an apparent heart attack Nov. 23 in Las Vegas at 64, was the sort of "character" that baseball fans love and baseball bosses hate. The Angels bought him from the Orioles during the offseason, and, before pitching a game, Bo became a holdout when the 1-year-old expansion franchise offered him a salary of $6,500. "I can make that shooting pool," Bo told general manager Fred Haney.
When that matter was settled, Belinsky arrived at the club's spring training camp in Palm Springs and called a news conference. "You must be tired of writing about Koufax and Drysdale," he told reporters. "Well, now you've got a character over here."
When the season started, Belinsky joined fellow fast liver Dean Chance to give the Angels a potent if brief 1-2 pitching combination of their own. Then came the historic game against the Orioles. Recalled Angels relief pitcher Tom Morgan: "I've seen six or seven no-hitters, but this was the only one where not one ball was hit hard."
Belinsky's stuff that night included a live, riding fastball, a hard curve and a baffling screwball, according to Angels catcher Buck Rodgers.
"He could challenge anybody with that fastball," said Rodgers, who later managed the Angels and two other teams. "On the last out, he threw a 3-1 fastball right down Broadway to Dave Nicholson, and he fouled it off. When Bo was on, he had that electric kind of stuff."
Following the no-hitter, Belinsky enthusiastically became part of the Hollywood scene, developing a reputation as a pool-hustling, hard-drinking playboy. Of course, he paid the price. He won his next game to go 5-0, but then it all disappeared. He went 5-11 the rest of the season to finish 10-11 with a 3.56 ERA. After two more years with the Angels, he bounced around with four other clubs without losing his sense of humor.
Joining the Houston Astros in 1967, Belinsky bolted the team's spring dormitory in Cocoa, Fla., to live with his latest flame, Playboy centerfold Jo Collins, in a beachfront motel. When the club briefly suspended him, Bo compared himself to the Duke of Windsor because he had given up baseball "for the woman I love."
When his career ended in 1970 at the age of 34, he had a lifetime record of 28-51 with a 4.10 ERA. But as Bo put it in an interview last year, "I've probably gotten more mileage out of winning 28 games than most guys have out of winning 200."
That's hard to dispute. Whatever personal assets Belinsky had, they attracted some of Hollywood's most desirable females. His most publicized romance was with Mamie Van Doren, an impressively constructed blonde whose studio tried to build her up as a Marilyn Monroe clone. But Bo also dated to use the most popular euphemism of the day knockouts like Collins, Ann-Margret, Tina Louise, Connie Stevens and Juliet Prowse.
Apparently, Van Doren never lost her infatuation with the flashy baseball player. "We've had a love affair that's continued a long time," she said after his death. "I lost someone that was a very special part of me. Our life was a circus. We were engaged on an April Fool's Day and broke the engagement on Halloween. It was a wild ride but lots of fun."
After retiring from baseball, Belinsky married and divorced Collins. He also married and divorced paper heiress Janie Weyerhaeuser, with whom he had twin daughters.
Later Belinsky worked in customer relations for an auto dealer and turned his life around. A born-again Christian, he remained sober for 25 years and was active in his church. In his final years, he developed bladder cancer, but his religious faith enabled him to accept it, said his old Angels buddy, Chance.
"Bo was a one-of-a-kind guy," Chance said in an interview following Belinsky's death. "He was full of cancer, his heart was bad and his hip was hurting him terribly at the end. But he had made his peace with the Lord."
That's admirable, but Belinsky will live in memory mostly from the days when he served as a charming prototype for Steve Martin's wild and crazy guy.

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