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Game 152

October 2, 1908 – Addie Joss Throws a Perfect Game in a Pennant Race

The Naps, White Sox, and Tigers were in a three-way pennant race going into the last week of the season. Cleveland was one game behind Detroit, and Chicago was half a game behind Cleveland. 

On Friday October 2nd, the White Sox traveled to Cleveland to kick off a weekend series at League Park. “Big Ed” Walsh took the mound for Chicago with an incredible 39 and 14 record for the season so far. However, Walsh had yet to win at League Park that season. Two of his three loses in Cleveland had come against Addie Joss, the “Human Hairpin” with the corkscrew delivery. 

Joss took the mound with a 23-11 record so far in 1908 and an incredible strikeout to walk ratio of 4.20. During the team warmups, Joss spotted Walsh on the White Sox bench. A local reporter snapped a photo of the two ace pitchers having a quiet conversation before one of the biggest matchups of the season. 

Both pitchers came out dealing. Joss sat down the first nine White Sox he faced. In the bottom of the third, Naps centerfielder Joe Birmingham led off with a single into right. Birmingham took a wide lead off first and Walsh made his pickoff move. Birmingham broke for second. The throw to second struck Birmingham in the back and bounced into center field and he reached third without a slide. 

After Freddy Parent grounded out to short and Joss struck out attempting to bunt, leadoff hitter Wilbur Good came to the plate. Walsh got Good to strike out swinging, but the third strike sailed out of catcher Osee Screcongost’s reach. Birmingham came home on the wild pitch and gave the Naps a 1-0 lead. 

Through the middle innings, both pitcher mowed through the opposing lineup. Ed Walsh was striking out two or more Naps an inning, but Joss was getting the White Sox out with ruthless efficiency. 

Around the bottom of the seventh, the crowd began to sense that history was on the line. The horns, cowbells, and other noisemakers that were customary at League Park feel silent as the tension was building. 

Joss faced three pinch hitters in the bottom of the ninth. Doc White grounded out to second. Lee Tannehill whiffed for Joss’ third strikeout of the day. John Anderson pinch hit for Ed Walsh with two outs. He smacked a line drive down the left field line that fell just foul–the nearest that Chicago came to a hit all day. Following the foul, Anderson grounded third for the 27th out. 

Joss had pitched just the second Perfect Game in baseball history, and he had done it using only 74 pitches. Two years later, Joss would become the first player to no-hit a team twice when he blanked the Sox in Game 5 of 1910. It would be another 73 years before the next Perfect Game in Cleveland, when Len Barker tossed his in Game 24 of 1971.

Among pitchers with over 1,000 innings in the books, Joss and Walsh have the lowest ERAs in baseball history. Walsh’s 1.82 over fourteen seasons edges out Joss’ 1.89 over nine years with Cleveland. Joss remains the all time leader in WHIP with a mark of 0.968.

Joss is the only player every to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame with less than 10 years of play in MLB. Joss died of tuberculosis just before the 1911 season began. In 1978 the rule was waived to include Cleveland’s original pitching ace in Cooperstown. 

Retrosheet Box Score

Honorable Mention – October 2, 2014 – Carlos Carrasco Tosses a 12K Maddux

While not quite a 74-pitch Perfect Game, Carlos Carrasco’s 12-stikeout, two-hitter against the Astros in late 2014 deserves an honorable mention. It earned Cookie his eighth win and was shortly followed by a hefty contract extension. 

Baseball Reference Box Score

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Game 91

July 19, 1974 – Dick Bosman’s No Hitter – Only Pitcher to Miss a Perfect Game Due to His Own Error

The Oakland As were two-time World Series champions coming into the 1974 season. The largest Municipal Stadium crowd of the season so far–over 48,000 filed in to watch the opening matchup of the series–a pitching duel between perennial Cy Young candidates Catfish Hunter and Gaylord Perry. The Tribe dropped that game 3-2. 

On the next evening, Dick Bosman started for the Indians against Oakland’s Dave Hamilton. These two carried over the pitching duel from the previous evening. Hamilton retired the first six batters he faced,  while Bosman was perfect through three innings. 

In the bottom of the third, Indians first baseman Tommy McCraw led things off with a single to right field. Joe Lis homered to give the Indians a 2-0 lead. 

In the top of the fourth, Bosman struck out Bill North and Bert Campenaris grounded out to third. As third baseman Sal Bando hit a slow roller between the mound and third base on a checked swing. Bosman hustled over to field the ball, turned and threw quickly to first. The ball skipped off the end of McCraw’s glove and Bando ended up at second. Bosman was charged with an error. He later said, “I had enough time, but because I had to go a long way to get the ball, I thought I had to hurry. My throw just sailed away from McGraw.” Reggie Jackson struck out to end the inning. 

Buddy Bell drove in John Ellis on a double to left which chased Hamilton from the game in the bottom of the fourth. McCraw then grounded to short off Blue Moon Odom, allowing Bell to score from third. After four innings, the Tribe was up 4-0. 

Shortstop Frank Duffy kept the no hitter alive in the top of the fifth with an incredible throw from deep in the hole to put the speedy Joe Rudi out at first. Bosman continued to mow through the Athletics order, and the Indians could barely touch Odom as well. 

Bosman had pitched four one-hitters in his career, including a no-hit bid against the Yankees that lasted into the eighth inning. “After the fifth, after the sixth, my feeling was that I wasn’t going to screw this one up,” Bosman said. “I was confident in myself that day that I wasn’t going to make a physical mistake.”

In the ninth, Dick Green grounded out to third. Jesus Alou (uncle to Moises) grounded out to second. Bosman stuck Bill North out swinging for the 27th out. He used only 72 pitches. 

There have been 301 recognized No-Hitters in MLB history. Bosman’s remains the only one that would have been a Perfect Game, if not for his own error.  The A’s went on to win their third consecutive World Series that fall, making Bosman’s no-no an interesting blip in the history of one of baseball’s great dynasties. 

Baseball Reference Box Score

Honorable Mention: July 19, 1964 – Luis Tiant Shuts Out Yankees in First MLB Start

In his first Major League start, Tiant faced 13-year veteran, and Cy Young winner Whitey Ford. Tiant struck out 11, and gave up only four hits.

Baseball Reference Box Score

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Game 68

July 1, 1951 – Bob Feller’s Third No-Hitter (Not a Shutout)

On the first Sunday in July, the Tigers were visiting Municipal Stadium. Bob Feller was on the mound facing Detroit’s Bob Cain.

Bob Feller on a Roadmaster bicycle, made by the Cleveland Welding Company

With runners on second and third in the bottom of the first, Luke Easter grounded to short scoring Dale Mitchell from third.

In the Detroit half of the first, Tigers shortstop Johnny Lipon reached on an error by Tribe shortstop Ray Boone. With Jerry Priddy at the plate, Lipon stole second and advanced to third on a wild throw by Dick Kryhoski. Lipon scored on a sacrifice fly by George Kell, tying the game at 1-1.

Feller issued two walks, but otherwise had the Tigers offense locked down. Feller later remarked to the Plain Dealer, “My fast ball and curve were nothing to brag about so I was depending on the slider most of the time. The fast one got better as the game moved along and I used it quite a bit in the late innings.”

In the bottom of the eighth, Sam Chapman had a one-out triple. Milt Neilson replaced him as a pinch runner. Luke Easter drove in the winning run with a single to right field which scored Neilson easily.

Feller faced the heart of the Tigers batting order in the top of the ninth. He got Charlie Keller and George Kell to fly out to right and left field, respectively. Vic Wertz was up with the Tigers down to their last out. A month earlier, Wertz broke up Bob Lemon’s bid for a perfect game. Feller struck out Wertz looking to end the game and earn his third no hitter.

Photo: thenationalpastimemuseum.com

As of this entry, there have been 300 no-hitters officially recognized by Major League Baseball. 257 of them are in the time-scope of this Project (since 1901). Three career No-Hitters was the record at that time and brought Feller into rare air with Cy Young and Larry Corcoran (of the 1880s White Stockings). Sandy Koufax recorded his fourth No-No in 1965, and Nolan Ryan surpassed them all, eventually marking his seventh in 1991.

According to Baseball Reference, there have been ten recognized No-Hitters that were not shutouts. Fellers was the second after Dazzy Vance and the Brooklyn Robins No-Hit the Phillies but Phillies first basemen Chicken Hawks scored an unearned run via an E7 and a sacrifice fly in Game 134 of 1925.

The most recent victims of the No-Hit non-shutout are the Indians themselves. Irvin Santana of the Angels No-Hit the Tribe in Game 102 of the 2011 campaign However, Eziquiel Carrera reached on an E6, stole second, advanced to third on an Asdrubal Cabrera groundout, and scored on a wild pitch.

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Game 65

July 10, 1947 – Don Black Overcomes Personal Demons to Pitch No Hitter

Don Black was on his last chance. In 1945 he had been suspended by the As for being so drunk that he passed out in a bowl of split pea soup. Disappointing results and continued personal struggles let Connie Mack to trade Black from the As to the Indians following the 1945 season.

Black had flashes of brilliance in 1946, but had been optioned to minor league Milwaukee for the later part of the season.

Don Black

In 1946, Bill Veeck purchased the Indians and began making many of the innovations that he is known for. He immediately reached an agreement to broadcast all games on the radio. In 1947 he hired hired Larry Doby, breaking the color barrier in the American League. He moved the team to Municipal Stadium full-time, and he began mentoring Don Black.

Veeck himself was a recovering alcoholic and a proponent of Alcoholics Anonymous. Veeck agreed to pay off Don Black’s outstanding debts if he would enter A.A. “Listen, give this thing a good try,” he told Black. “You won’t have to worry about your debts. I’m paying them all off. The only man you’re going to owe is me, and I’m not going to be tough on you.”

Not even five months after he joined A.A., Black was pitching behind Bob Feller as the Indians’ No. 2 starter.

On July 10th, Black was facing his old team in the first half of a double-header. The twin bill had attracted a rather large crowd for a weekday, despite the threat of rain in the forecast.

Black walked the first two Philadelphia batters on eight wide–nearly wild–pitches. After striking out Elmer Valo, Ferris Fain grounded out, but advanced the runners. Eddie Joost was left on third when Sam Chapman grounded out to end the inning. That is the farthest any A’s baserunner would make it this afternoon.

He pitched a 1-2-3 second inning, and then the heavens opened up. During the rain delay, Black remarked to some reporters, “Gee, I’m wild tonight. I don’t seem to have it. I hope I can stick it out.”

After a 45 minute delay, he did more than stick it out. After Jim Hegan broke the ice in the bottom of the second with an RBI single, Black helped out his own cause by scoring Joe Gordon with a sacrifice bunt. Tribe center fielder George Metkovich then drove in Hegan with an RBI single of his own.

In the top of the third, with Barney McKoskey on base after a walk, Elmer Valo launched a ball to deep right field. Joe Gordon sprinted toward the wall and made a dramatic over-the-shoulder catch.

His slider was moving brilliantly and fooling A’s hitters, but Black’s tendency to be a little wild was almost his undoing. After walking Ferris Fain in the top of the 6th, Lou Boudreau made a mound visit. “I went over … when he walked Fain to tell him to slow down a little. We all knew he was going for the no-hitter.

Wiping sweat from his brow after every third pitch, Black faced the A’s 4 -5- and 6 hitters in the top of the ninth. The final out was a grounder back to the mound. Black fielded the ball, took a few steps toward first, and tossed the ball to Eddie Robinson to complete the no hitter.

A game used ball, currently for sale

47,871 fans erupted in jubilation at the feat. It was the largest crowd to date to witness a no hitter in the majors.  

Later, Don Black reflected on the game “Never a drink made,” he said, “could give me the belt I got out of that game.”

Baseball Reference Box Score

Honorable Mention: June 20, 1971 – Walkoff Wins in Both Games of a Doubleheader

Box Score – Game 54

Box Score Game 55

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Game 41

May 30, 1977 – Dennis Eckersley’s Memorial Day No Hitter

On Memorial Day 1977, the Angels were in town and Cleveland had a young, brash pitcher on the mound. Dennis Eckersley was matched up with Angels ace Frank Tanana.

Cleveland Plain Dealer Collection

Eckersley issued one walk, with two outs in the top of the first to first baseman Tony Solaita.

In the bottom of the first, Duane Kuiper hit a fly ball to center field. Gil Flores attempted a shoestring catch, but narrowly missed the ball. The hit rolled all the way to the outfield wall and Kuiper was aboard with a triple. Right fielder Jim Norris executed a suicide squeeze to bring Kuiper home. This first-inning run is the only support Eck would need.

Mowing through the Angels lineup, Eckersley struck out twelve. The only other Angels baserunner was Bobby Bonds. He struck out to lead off the eighth, but strike three eluded Tribe catcher Ray Fosse. Bonds made it safely to first base, and it was ruled a wild pitch. Bonds was then neutralized on a ground ball double play by Don Baylor.

Tommy Smith, a good friend of our family and an old teammate of my father shared a story with me about his experience of this game:

“We had started the day finishing up in third place in the 2U Cleveland Umpires Tournament. Our last game concluded about 1PM. Four of us, along with three of the wives decided to grab a bite to eat at the local tavern and make plans for the rest of the evening. Our intention was to go see the young phenom Dennis Eckersley pitch on a beautiful evening.

This is where our plans hit a snag. One–and only one–of the wives decided she had seen enough baseball and softball in the last three days and was not going to go see another game that evening. So, we asked what she wanted to do.

She wanted us all to go see a movie. We let her have her way and went to see “It’s Alive”, one of the worst movies I believe I have ever seen in my life. We walked out of the theater about 9:15 PM, got in our cars and turned on the game as we headed out to dinner.

It was the top of the 8th inning, and Eckersley had not given up a hit. A no-no, and we were missing it! We got to the restaurant in the top of the 9th and the ladies walked in while the four guys stayed near the car to hear the end of the game.

Leading of the top of the ninth for the Halos was Bobby Grich. He struck out for the second time of the evening and was Eck’s 11th strikeout victim. Next was pinch hitter Willie Aiken, so lifted a short fly ball to left for out number two.

Everyone in the crowd was up on their feet as Gil Flores came to the plate. We turned the car radio up as loud as it would go, and none of us said a word, hoping not to jinx the moment. Strike one was called and Flores was not happy. Ball one came and the crowd was anxious. The third pitch was fouled back and now the count was 1 – 2. You could hear a pin drop in the stadium–and in the parking lot–as the next pitch was delivered.

Swing and a miss! Strike three! And Dennis Eckersley was now a part of baseball history. The four of us looked at each other and couldn’t utter a word. Baseball history in our own back yard and we had missed it in favor of “It’s Alive.” A game that goes down in Indians history…sure would have been nice to have been there.”

Eckersley would go on to strike out over 191 batters in the 1977 season, leading the league with a 3.54 strikeout to walk ratio. He will appear again in this project, later in his career pitching for his hometown Oakland As in Game 71.  

Baseball Reference Box Score

Many thanks to Tommy Smith. I have lightly edited his comments to me for clarity.

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Game 24

May 15, 1981 – Len Barker’s Perfect Game

If you start a conversation about Indians history–at a barbecue, a bar, a birthday party–someone will tell you they were at Len Barker’s perfect game. The odds of this being the truth are exceptionally low, given that only 7,290 fans were in attendance for this Friday night contest against the expansion Blue Jays.

Nine days earlier, Bert Blyleven and the Indians took a no-hitter into the ninth inning against the Blue Jays in Exhibition Stadium. The newly-formed Blue Jays had a team batting average of .218 heading into Friday’s game.

Temperatures dipped into the 40s, and a misty rain was blowing in off Lake Erie.

On the first play of the game Alfredo Griffin hit a slow roller behind the mound. Shortstop Tom Veryzer fielded it and threw to first for one of the toughest outs of the game.

In the bottom of the first, Rick Manning led off with a single to left field. Jorge Orta flied out to shortstop. Mike Hargrove got on board due to an error by the first baseman, advancing Manning to third. Andre Thornton’s sacrifice fly to center scored Manning and sent Hargrove to second. Catcher Ron Hassey stepped in next, and scored Hargrove with a single to right field.

Although he was known as the American League’s premier fastball pitcher (after the departure of Nolan Ryan to the Astros in 1980), Barker did not record a strikeout until the 10th batter faced. From the top of the 4th on, Barker struck out eleven batters swinging. His curveball was so dominant that at no point in the game did a Blue Jay hitter ever face a three-ball count.

Barker threw 103 pitches, and 74 were strikes. He threw only 17 fastballs after the fourth inning. Ron Hassey later remarked on the dominance of Lenny’s curveball, “By the ninth inning we decided if there was going to be a base hit, it would have to come off a breaking pitch.”

Lenny later remarked on how the inclement weather worked to his advantage. “I’m always wetting the ball and rubbing it up to get a better grip. The mist just gave me more moisture to work with.”

Jorge Ortega hit a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the 8th inning. Long-time fans may remember that the Muni stadium scoreboard always displayed a trivia question, usually in the later innings. These questions were chosen earlier in the day by team staff and programmed into the display board.

That days trivia question was “Which two teams have never been involved in a no hitter.” The answer was Toronto and the Seattle Mariners. Some players in the dugout feared that the stadium itself had invoked the jinx that comes with talking about a no-hitter.

On the mound for the top of the 9th, Barker was well aware that he was on the cusp of something special. Lenny later recounted, “I was so nervous at the end that I dropped the ball on the mound one time. My stomach was a wreck.” Rick Bosetti fouled off one of Barker’s only poorly-located pitches of the night, and then was retired on a pop foul to the third base side.

Al Woods pinch hit for Danny Ainge and struck out swinging. The 27th batter was Ernie Whitt, another pinch hitter who entered the game with a  .188 batting average. Whitt lofted a fly ball into center field. It was caught by Rick Manning and a raucous celebration began.

I have a family friend who was there. The ticket stubs and scorecard hanging in his home were one of the inspirations for this project.

I asked Neil to tell me about the game from a fan’s perspective:

“I invited my girlfriend of 2 months (we just celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary) to go to the game with me.  We drove up from Warren where we lived at the time. It was a cool misty night. I bought two general reserved seats along the first baseline figuring we would be able to move up close to the field which is exactly what we did as there were very few fans there due to the inclement weather.  I bought a program and a pencil to keep score which my wife found interesting not being all that much of a baseball fan.

Along with having uncommon control Barker’s curveball was really breaking sharply that night and the Expansion Blue Jays were overmatched.  Celtics GM Danny Ainge played second for them that night which was kind of interesting as he was also attending Brigham Young at the time and was eventually named the college basketball player of the year.   As the game wore on and Barker showed no signs of tiring, other fans lined up behind us to copy our scorecard. I vividly recall the final out which was a pop out to Manning in center, followed by a wild celebration.

Tickets and Scorecard in the Harris home

Many years later I took my son to an autograph show to get Lenny to sign the scorecard and stubs.  He couldn’t have been nicer and spent a bit of time looking at the scorecard before signing it.”

Perhaps the reason so many people claim to have been at the game was because so many more people saw it than normally did in 1981. The game happened to be broadcast over the air on WUAB Channel 43. Bruce Drennan and Joe Tait were the broadcast team. One week later, a compressed-game recap was aired with Drennan and Tait providing further commentary. Thanks to YouTube user TomBombadil and (I presume) some serious VHS technology, this compressed replay is a window into an event that briefly made Cleveland the center of the baseball world.

Barker’s perfecto was the eighth of the modern era. It had been thirteen years since Catfish Hunter’s perfect game in May of 1968 and would be another three years until Mike Witt was threw one for the California Angels.

Barker’s Perfect Game is one of two for the Indians, along with Addie Joss in Game 152 of the 1908 season. It is one of fourteen no-hitters thrown by the Tribe.

Baseball Reference Box Score

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Game 12

April 29, 1931 – Wes Farrell Throws No-Hitter and Hits Home Run


Photo: The Conlon Collection

Wes Ferrell is regarded by many baseball historians as the greatest hitting pitcher who remained a pitcher throughout his career (therefore, excluding one Babe Ruth). He was often used as a pinch-hitter in clutch situations. On the 1931 squad his home run total was outpaced only by Earl Averill and Ed Morgan.

On a Wednesday afternoon at League Park, Jim Levey led off for the Saint Louis Browns. Levey reached first on a booted ground ball by Bruce Hunnefield at shortstop. Ferrell’s superb pitching would hold the Browns scoreless despite two additional errors by Hunnefield.

He recorded eight strikeouts in the course of the no hitter, scattering only three walks. In the top of the 7th, already up 4-0, Ferrell helped out his own cause. He hit a two-run home run into the League Park stands to extend the lead to 6-0.

In an odd twist of family history, Wes recorded two outs against his own brother–Hall of Fame catcher Rick Ferrell–who grounded out in the third, and sixth innings. In the top of the eighth, Rick had the opportunity to break up his brother’s no hitter.

“I didn’t want a base hit, but I had to get up there.”

Rick Ferrell on facing his brother deep into the No-Hitter

Rick hit a line drive down the third-base line. Browns third baseman Johnny Burnett dove to make the catch, but came up without the ball. The hapless Hunnefield was backing him up. He picked up the ball and threw to first base for a bang-bang play.

Rick Farrell was initially called safe at first. The official scorer then ruled that Hunnefield’s throw pulled first baseman Lew Fonseca away from the bag–a throwing error. The no-hitter was preserved, but not without controversy.

Despite the recent ascendancy of hitting pitchers like Madison Bumgardner and Shohei Ohtani, Wes Ferrell’s 37 home runs as a pitcher are likely to stand as an enduring record in MLB history.

https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CLE/CLE193104290.shtml

Honorable Mention: April 18, 2009 – 14-run inning against Yankees


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