Game 145

September 19, 1917 – Stan Coveleski, Ace of the Deadball Era, Throws a One-Hitter

The Indians were visiting the Yankees at the Polo grounds as the end of the 1917 campaign was approaching. Sophomore spitballer Stan Coveleski took the hill against Slim Love and the Yankees. 

The play-by-play details of this game have been lost to history, but Coveleski mowed through the Yankee lineup. The pinstripes managed only one hit–a single by third baseman Fritz Maisel. He walked two and struck out five on the way to a league-leading ninth shutout of the season. 

Tris speaker drove in Ray Chapman with a double and catcher Steve O’Neill drove in Bill Wambsganss to score the only two runs that the Indians would need. 

He once explained, “I wouldn’t throw all spitballs. I’d go maybe two or three innings without throwing a spitter, but I always had them looking for it.” Sounds familiar to a another doctored-ball Indians great–Gaylord Perry

Coveleski was an anchor of the Indians rotation throughout the late teens and twenties. His biggest moment came in the 1920 World Series. He recorded three wins in the best-of-nine format, including a complete game shutout in Game 7 that earned the Indians the title. His ERA for the World Series was 0.67.

Retrosheet Box Score 


Game 19

May 10, 1972 – Gaylord Perry Complete Game Win

The most unusual thing about this game is that it was not unusual at all for the time. The Indians were bad, and Gaylord Perry was brilliant. The Royals were in for a Wednesday night game on the Lakefront. Just short of 4,600 fans were in attendance.

In 1972, Perry won 24 games on an Indians squad that managed just 72 wins on the season. 20 of those 24 wins were complete games.

Perry was out to a hot start, striking out Freddie Patek and Cookie Rojas to begin the game.

In the bottom of the 3rd, the Tribe rallied with two outs. Del Unser drew a walk to get things started. Jack Brohamer singled to center, and Alex Johnson brought them home with a 3-run homer.

With Jim Rooker pitching in the bottom of the 6th, the Indians scored two more runs on RBI singles by Frank Duffy and Gaylord Perry helping out his own cause.

Richie Scheinblum put KC on the board with an RBI single in the top of the 7th. Freddie Patek drove in another Royal run in the top of the 8th with an double to right field.

All in all, Perry pitched a complete game. He posted seven strikeouts, two earned runs on five hits and two walks.

A solid performance, but standard data for Gaylord Perry who accounted for fully 39% of the Indians wins during his tenure with the team.

Illustration – New York Times

His success stemmed mainly from his talent as a pitcher, but also from the performance of being Gaylord Perry. Although the spitball had been outlawed in 1920, Perry admitted to doctoring balls with saliva, KY jelly, sweat, and virtually any viscous substance at hand. He even occasionally threw a “puffball” where he would rosin his hands so thoroughly the ball would leave his hand in a distracting plume of dust.

Perry had an elaborate setup that included touching his cap, belt, glove, and other parts of his uniform. Whether the ball was doctored or not, hitters were so focused on catching him in the act that they whiffed on entirely legal pitches.

“I don’t even have to throw it anymore, because the batters are set up to believe it’s there, waiting for ’em.”

Whatever the truth of the matter, the persona that Perry created around himself makes for a legend in Tribe history. He went on to become the first pitcher to earn the Cy Young in both leagues–with the Tribe in 1972 and the Padres in 1978. He also cut one of the great early-90s SportsCenter commercials.

Baseball Reference