The Addie Joss Perfect Game in 1908

At the start of the 2001 season, Bob Dolgan of the Cleveland Plain Dealer took a look back at this game:

The duel between Hall of Famers Addie Joss and Ed Walsh on Oct. 2, 1908, the most remarkable two-man pitching performance under pressure in the history of the American League, lasted either one hour and 29 minutes or 1:40, depending on which paper you read.

A crowd of 10,598 in League Park saw Cleveland’s Joss throw a perfect game for a 1-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox in the heat and fury of a great pennant race. . . .
Joss had kept the Naps a half-game behind Detroit, with four to play. The White Sox fell 2½ back.

Joss said: “Around the seventh inning, I began to realize none of the Sox had reached first. No one on the bench dared breathe a word to that effect. [Anyone doing so] would have been chased to the clubhouse. Even I rapped on wood when I thought about it. All I was trying to do was beat Chicago, for Walsh was pitching the game of his life.”

Walsh said: “I pitched a fairly good game, but Joss pitched better. Maybe I did strike out 15, but they got four hits off me and we got none off him. I walked a man and he passed none.

“It is something to be proud of, keeping a team like Chicago from reaching first base.”

Going into the crucial two-game series, the White Sox were confident. Chicago team owner Charles Comiskey boasted, “I think we’ll sweep the series and win all five of our remaining games.”

There was speculation that spitballer Walsh, who had pitched and won a doubleheader in Boston three days earlier, might work both games for Chicago. The big-shouldered former Pennsylvania coal miner worked 464 innings that season, still the record.

By noon, thousands lined up for the 3 p.m. game at East 66th and Lexington. Tickets cost 25 cents, 75 cents and $1.

The Rooters Club, 250 strong, marched in behind a drum corps, wearing badges and carrying song sheets. Fans sang “Hail, hail, the gang’s all here.” Parades and music were a big part of baseball then. Naps coach Jimmy McGuire, brandishing a horseshoe for luck, pirouetted around the diamond.

The Naps, named after their stellar second baseman-manager Larry “Napoleon” Lajoie, scored the only run in the third inning after Joe Birmingham singled. Walsh threw to first to pick him off and Birmingham dashed for second. He went to third when first baseman Frank Isbell’s wild throw hit him and bounced into the outfield. Birmingham scored when catcher Ossie Schreckengost couldn’t handle a violent breaking ball by Walsh, which was scored as a wild pitch.

Joss, who was taller and thinner than Walsh, struck out three and retired 16 batters on ground balls, with Lajoie making several fine plays. The closest call came when pinch-hitter John Anderson, the last batter in the game, lined a ball down the left-field line that was foul by three feet. Anderson then hit a hot grounder to third baseman Bill Bradley, who made a low throw. But first baseman George Stovall dug it out, juggled the ball and gained control just in time to nip Anderson. Joss, 24-11 that year, had the third perfect game in history.

“The boys played grandly behind me,” Joss said. “Larry killed three drives that would have been hits for ordinary second basemen.”

Walsh said: “I’m sorry we lost, but way down deep in my heart I’m glad Anderson was called out at first. It would have made no difference anyway.”

A SABR biography of Joss added that he “needed only 74 pitches to out-duel Walsh and retire all 27 White Sox batters. It was only the second perfect game in American League history.”

Published in: on August 10, 2011 at 4:13 am  Comments (2)  
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Ernie Shore’s “Perfect” Game and Babe Ruth’s Ejection in 1917

The Boston Globe covered this game with as much attention to the fracas that got Babe Ruth ejected after walking the first batter as to Ernie Shore’s feat of retiring the 26 batters he faced in relief, which, with the first batter being thrown out stealing, made 27 straight outs, if not quite an absolute perfect game. It happened at Fenway Park on June 23, 1917, in the first game of a doubleheader vs. the Washington Senators. Here’s most of the Globe’s account:

No-Hit, No-Run and No-Man-to-First Performance
Modest Ernie Shore took a place in the Hall of Fame as a no-hit, no-run, no man-reached-first base pitcher in the curtain-raiser of the twin bill with the Griffmen at Fenway Park yesterday. It was the best pitching seen in this city since 1904 when Cy Young put over a similar feat, the only difference being that Uncle Cyrus pitched to every batter, while the Carolina professor did not get into the exercises until after Ruth, who had walked Morgan, the first batter, had been removed from the pastime for striking Umpire Brick Owns. . .

While Shore covered himself with glory. . . Baltimore Babe with his temper beyond control went to the dugout under a cloud and undoubtedly will be severely punished by Pres Johnson.

His suspension will cripple the Red Sox badly as they need the big portsider very much.
Babe pitched four balls to Morgan and accused Owens of missing two of them. “Get in there and pitch,” ordered Owens.

“Open your eyes and keep them open,” chirped Babe.

“Get in and pitch or I will run you out of there,” was the comeback of the arbiter.
“You run me out and I will come in and bust you on the nose,” Ruth threatened.

“Get out of there now,” said Brick.

Then in rushed Ruth. Chester Thomas tried to prevent him from reaching Owens, who had not removed his mask, but Babe started swinging both hands. The left missed the arbiter, but the right struck him behind the left ear.

Manager Barry and several policemen had to drag Ruth off the field. All season Babe has been fussing a lot. Nothing has seemed to satisfy him.

Prof Shore stepped to the hill and, after Sam Agnew had taken care of Morgan when he endeavored to annex second, Ernie just breezed along calmly. He fielded his position well and was ready for any of those cantankerous bunts that the opponents might try to lay down. But strange to say the Griffmen were off that stuff, relying mostly on the slam-bang system.

The Carolinian is indebted to Scotty [shortstop Everett Scott] and Duffy Lewis for making his record. The Bluffton Kid robbed Jamieson of a hit in the fifth when a hard hit ball was deflected by Shore, Scotty being obliged to travel fast. However, he made a one hand pick-up and tossed out the runner. In the seventh “Duff” went back to his own little cliff for a bang from Morgan and in the final frame came in like lightning and speared one that Henry had planted in short left.

Shore fanned only two and it did not seem as if he was working hard. He made a number of nifty plays himself. Barry closed the game with a grand play on a swinging bunt by pinch hitter Menoskey.

Here’s the Globe’s box score:

And the headline:

Published in: on March 28, 2011 at 2:32 pm  Comments (5)  
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John Halama: the First Perfect Game in Pacific Coast League History in 2001

This is the first, and probably only, post here that’ll talk about a minor league perfect game. John Halama of the Tacoma Rainiers threw it on July 7, 2001: it was the first nine-inning perfect game in the Pacific Coast League’s 99-year history to that point, so it seems worth telling the story here. The 6-0 win came over Calgary, a former Mariners AAA farm team. The Seattle Times reported:

The perfect game came in Halama’s second start for Tacoma, and his first start at Cheney Stadium.

Halama had nine strikeouts, got seven fly-ball outs, and 11 ground-ball outs while pitching the fifth perfect game of any length in league history. The previous perfect game occurred in 1975.

Coincidentally, Halama’s perfect game came just four nights after Rainiers teammate Brett Tomko, also sent down to Tacoma by the Mariners, pitched a no-hitter in Oklahoma City.

On the final play of the game, Halama made the putout at first base on Ben Candelaria’s grounder to Todd Betts.

Betts, the first baseman, made one of the more memorable plays of the game. In the seventh inning, he leaped off the bag to snag a high throw from the shortstop, then tagged out batter Mike Gulan.

Ramon Vazquez provided the offense for Tacoma, hitting a grand slam in the third inning. Luis Figueroa hit a two-run single in the eighth to cap the Rainiers’ scoring.

Rahula Strohl of the Tacoma News Tribune added:

“I was just trying to stay within myself,” said Halama. “I was sent down here for a specific reason, to get my mechanics back and to get the ball down.” Eleven of Halama’s 27 outs came on groundballs, and he struck out nine on 97 total pitches.

First baseman Todd Betts made a pair of nice plays to preserve the perfect game.

In the fifth inning, he made an over-the-shoulder catch in shallow right field on a blooper off the bat of Calgary center fielder Jeff Abbott.

Then in the seventh, third baseman Mike Gulan grounded one to shortstop Ramon Vazquez, who threw wide of first to the home-plate side, but Betts collected the throw and applied the tag to Gulan, ending the inning.

Saturday’s start was Halama’s second since being sent down to Tacoma from Seattle on June 29.

He pitched seven innings and gave up one run on four hits in his first start with the Rainiers.

“Two starts don’t mean I’m there,” Halama said. “The call of getting back up (to the majors), that’s going to be Seattle’s decision.”

“That’s the hardest drop for a player to make, from the majors down to the minors,” Rainiers pitching coach Chris Bosio said. “John pitched like a major leaguer, and he got his reward.”

This is Halama’s first stint in the minors since joining the Mariners between the 1998 and 1999 seasons as part of the Randy Johnson trade to the Houston Astros.

The next day, Halama said: “I do feel better now than I did in the big leagues. My mechanics were a little screwed up (in the majors) as opposed to now. He’s [Tacoma pitching coach Chris Bosio] helped me out since day one.”

Published in: on September 1, 2010 at 2:16 am  Leave a Comment  

Some Notes on Don Larsen’s Perfect Game in the 1956 World Series

After his game, the New York Times interviewed several people. Larsen’s mom, Charlotte, said: “I make it a rule never to watch Don when he pitches. Seems like every time I watch him, he loses. So I just don’t do it. I didn’t today and see what happened.”

Ernie Shore, the Red Sox pitcher who retired 27 in a row in relief of Babe Ruth in a game in the 1910s and in 1956 was the sheriff of Forsyth County in North Carolina, applauded: “Wonderfully pitched. That Larsen deserves a lot of credit. I don’t believe he was ever in a hole.”

Yankee right fielder Hank Bauer on a near-homer by Sandy Amoros in the fifth inning: “When I saw that ball heading for the right-field seats I was ready to concede the homer. But when it hooked foul by this much (three inches) I was the happiest guy in the park.”

Charlie Robertson, a pecan broker in Fort Worth and pitcher of the last previous perfect game, in 1922: “I was traveling by car yesterday and didn’t know anything about Larsen’s game until I got home about 2 a.m. today.”

Home plate umpire Babe Pinelli told Larsen: “You were wonderful, just wonderful. [Larsen had] the greatest pin-point control I’ve ever seen. Even if the Dodgers had not swung at some of those slow curves they would have been strikes.”

Finally, the Times reported:

A discordant marital note marred yesterday’s day of baseball triumph for Don Larsen. The Yankee pitcher was notified that his estranged wife Vivian had filed a Supreme Court action seeking to withhold his world series money. Mrs. Larsen charged that Larsen was delinquent in his support payments and that he had subjected her and their 14-months-old daughter “to the pleasures of a starvation existence.”

The pitcher’s wife charged that he had deserted her three months after their marriage on April 23, 1955. Her affidavit asserted that Don had left her “with no intention of returning because he was not ready to settle down and preferred a life of free and easy existence.”

Later yesterday, Larsen sent his wife $420, her lawyer, Harry H. Lipsig, reported. Lipsig declined to say whether the payment would affect her court suit. The order charged that Larsen had not sent any money to his wife since July, and that he owed her the $420 under a court directive requiring him to pay her $60 a week for support.
Published in: on June 4, 2010 at 12:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Fun Facts about the 23 Perfect Games in MLB History

A while back I completed a project of chronicling most of major league baseball’s perfect games. What fun is that if you can’t make out a list of trivia about the games? So yes, the following list (updated to include Braden’s feat, and Halladay’s, and Humber’s, and Cain’s, and Hernandez’s) is trivial—but then, much of life is trivia, and sometimes trivia reveals things about life (and baseball) that bigger, more obvious facts can’t reveal.

And even if it doesn’t, you can still enjoy going through the following facts about the 23 perfect games from 1880 to 2012:

Fourteen have been pitched by A.L. teams and just 9 by N.L. teams, despite the N.L. being 25 years older.

Nine of the 14 pitched after the D.H. rule took effect have been in the A.L.

Seven have had crowds of no more than 10,598 as witnesses.

Six have had crowds of at least 40,000, but Don Larsen’s had easily the most attendees: 64,519.

David Wells’ took the longest, at 2:40; eight took less than two hours, and the quickest was Cy Young’s, which took 83 minutes.

There have been four “complete” perfect games of less than 9 innings, with the latest being a 5-inning job by David Palmer in 1984.

Seven of them were 1-0 affairs.

Six have occurred between May 5 and May 18, four between July 18 and July 28, and four between June 9 and June 17.

They’ve been thrown by pitchers ranging from age 20 (John Ward) to age 40 (Randy Johnson).

The Yankees and White Sox with three and Phillies, Indians, and A’s with two are the five teams with multiple perfect games.

Charlie Robertson is the least successful pitcher (not considering Phil Humber or Dallas Braden, who are still in their 20s) to throw a perfect game: he never had a winning season, pitched over 155 innings in a season just twice, and posted an ERA of 8.36 four years after his perfection.

There are 16 men alive who threw perfect games; for comparison, we now have four living ex-presidents.

Catfish Hunter’s 3-4 (three singles) and three RBI is the best hitting performance by any perfect pitcher; Jim Bunning’s 1-4 with a double and two RBI comes in second.

Catfish wore jersey no. 27 for his perfect game.

The 2004 Arizona Diamondbacks, at 51-111, are easily the worst team to have a perfect game.

Ron Hassey is the one catcher to catch (and call) two perfect games; he nearly caught a third for the 1989 A’s.

The 1988 Dodgers are the only World Series-winning team to never reach first base in a single game in their championship year.

Six perfect games were thrown in the ‘90s and ‘00s, an anomaly for two of the hardest-hitting decades in MLB history.

Six Hall of Famers have thrown perfect games, with Randy Johnson set to become the seventh in six years or so, and Kenny Rogers, David Wells, David Cone, and Dennis Martinez all possible future Hall of Famers (but likely near-misses; there are no Martinezes in the Hall of Fame, by the way).

Seven of these men threw at least one other no-hitter (so far, and Mike Witt as a two-inning reliever for Mark Langston in 1990).

1880 and 2010 and 2012 are the only years to have (at least) two perfect games; 2012 is of course the only one with more than two.

The number of pitches required to retire 27 batters has ranged from 74 (Joss) to 125 (Cain).

Fourteen of the 23 perfect games have happened in the last 30-odd years.

Five of the last seven perfect games have involved three of the four most recent expansion teams in the majors (Arizona, Tampa Bay, and the Marlins.)

These 23 pitchers include a recovering alcoholic (Martinez), an ALS/Lou Gehrig’s disease victim (Hunter), a union organizer (John Ward), a construction contractor (Len Barker), two graduates of Point Loma High School (Wells and Larsen), a senator (Bunning), a one-time prisoner (Tom Browning), a man with an arthritic throwing arm who retired within a year (Koufax), a victim of tubercular meningitis who died at age 31, nine months after his final game (Joss), and a Tommy John surgery (Philip Humber).

Here is a nice bit of coincidence; a picture of a Mark Buehrle jersey I saw on a White Sox fan following Humber’s perfect game.

Also, here is a picture of the “King of Perfection” poster the Mariners issued to celebrate Felix Hernandez’s perfect game:

Rundown of Perfect Games

If you’ve come here looking for some information on perfect games in MLB history, you’re in luck: the following set of names links to accounts of most of the perfect games of the past hundred years, along with a handful of the near-perfect games: Tom Browning’s, Harvey Haddix’s, Charlie Robertson’s, Sandy Koufax’s, Jim Bunning’s, Cy Young’s, Dennis Martinez’s, Len Barker’s, Mike Witt’s, Catfish Hunter’s, Pedro Martinez’s, Dean Chance’s, Jerry Reuss’s, Waite Hoyt’s, Brian Holman’s, Kenny Rogers’, and David Palmer’s.

I haven’t covered Don Larsen’s, David Cone’s, Randy Johnson’s, or David Wells’ because there’s already plenty of accounts of those four games available. If you’re really dedicated to perfect games, buy the book that covers all of them but Johnson’s here.

Published in: on June 27, 2009 at 8:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

Some More Notes on Charlie Robertson’s Perfect Game

I’ve typed up the summary of this game here, but the Chicago Tribune also added some other notes on the game. It said: “Because of the crowd on the field ground rules were necessary. Sheely (of the White Sox) hit one into the overflow patrons in the fourth and Mulligan did the same thing in the seventh. The Tygers came near doing this only once. Veach hit one to left in the second, and Mostil got it just inside the ropes.

“When Cobb was at bat in the seventh, he did a lot of talking about the alleged soiled ball, and he was so centered on that subject that he neglected to connect when the third strike went floating by.”

The Tribune provided an out-by-out recounting of Robertson’s perfection that may not be available elsewhere, so I’m typing it out here:

First Inning-Blue struck out. Cutshaw popped to Collins. Cobb was thrown out by McClelland.

Second Inning-Veach flied to Mostil in deep left. Hooper took Heilmann’s fly. Jones lined to Hooper.

Third Inning-Collins went into right field for Rigney’s popup. Manich fouled to Schalk directly behind the plate. Pillette grounded out to McClellan.

Fourth Inning-Blue struck out. Cutshaw lined to Collins. Cobb lofted to Mostil.

Fifth Inning-Hooper took Veach’s tall fly. Robertson tossed out Heilmann. McClellan took Jones’ pop foul.

Sixth Inning-Rigney fouled to Sheely. Manion out, Collins to Sheely. Pillette fanned.

Seventh Inning-Blue rolled out to Collins. Cutshaw out, McClellan to Sheely. Cobb struck out.

Eighth Inning-Veach was called out on strikes. Heilmann fouled to Sheely. Jones rolled out, Collins to Sheely.

Ninth Inning-Clark batted for Rigney and fanned. Manion popped to Collins. Bassler batted for Pillette and lofted to Mostil.

Finally, when Don Larsen pitched his perfect game in 1956, the New York Times hunted down Robertson, who said, “My game didn’t make much of a lasting impression on me.”

He added: “If I had known then what I know now it would never have happened to me. I wouldn’t have been in baseball.

“It isn’t sour grapes or anything like that. Baseball didn’t give me a particularly bad break. But I went through it and found out too late that it is ridiculous for any young man with qualifications to make good in another profession to waste time in professional athletics. There’s nothing wrong with professional athletics as such, you understand. But when they get through with an athlete he has to start over at an age when it’s the wrong time to be starting.”

Robertson was a pecan broker, living in Fort Worth, Texas; he died there in 1984, at age 88. I looked and didn’t see the typical mention of him throwing his perfect game in newspapers that would have reported his death, and apparently Robertson’s rejection of his baseball career explains that.

Published in: on June 26, 2009 at 5:46 pm  Comments (1)  
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Charlie Robertson’s Perfect Game

When Charles Robertson threw his perfect game on Sunday, April 30, 1922, the Chicago Tribune’s Irving Vaughan was there, and he filed this report the next day:

The name of Charles Robertson will live in baseball lore alongside those of Cy Young and Addie Joss. Hurling himself to heights attained only twice before in modern major league history, the young Texan today turned back the Tigers without a hit, without a run, and without a hostile reaching first base. To say the White Sox won is hardly necessary. The score was 2-0.

Fully 25,000 fans were packed into the arena to witness this thriller. At the start they were anything but favorable toward the lean Texan. They howled at him and booed him. The Tigers themselves tried to break him down by unwarranted complaints that he was practicing some illegal trick. Undaunted, Robby kept right on going, and when it was all over the fans showed their appreciation of his work by carrying him off the field.

Despite the startling results attained by Robertson, the game itself was not particularly spectacular. The Texan’s mates were not called upon to perform hair raising feats to keep the Tygers away from first base. Robby was so good that ordinary fielding was all he needed.

What made Robby the pitcher he was today, was control. He shot fast ones, slow ones, and hooks right through the spots where the other fellows didn’t like ’em.

As a sample of his effectiveness, it might be mentioned that only seven balls were hit on the ground. Fourteen were slammed into the air, and six of the twenty-seven batters took their medicine in the form of strikeouts.

Only six balls were driven into the outfield.

Just what caused the Tygers to break out with their protests against the young pitcher is a mystery. Nothing was said during the first four innings, but in the fifth Harry Heilmann, while batting, called for the ball and tried to show Umpire Nallin that it had been soiled by some foreign substance. Nallin found nothing wrong.

The fact that the arbiter could find no fault with Robby didn’t satisfy the Tygers, however. Heilmann continued to “wolf” throughout the game. Once Cobb even went out to first base to see whether Sheely’s glove did not conceal coloring matter. It didn’t.

Later, the irrepressible Tyrus inspected all parts of Robertson’s uniform. He was foiled again,  but even after it was all over he still insisted there was something wrong. To a spectator it sounded like the squawk of a trimmed sucker. . . .

Hurling against Robby this afternoon was Herman Pillette from the Portland, Ore., team.

He also performed fairly well, but even then was lucky not to have half a dozen runs scored against him. He was in trouble time and again, but the Sox nicked him for hits only seven times.

The rally that won the game, started with a pass to Hooper in the second inning. Mostil bunted along the third base line and beat the throw to first base, after which Strunk sacrificed. Sheely then drove a hard bounder between short and third. Jones managed to reach the ball, but couldn’t get his glove around it and it caromed off into the outfield for a hit, Hooper and Mostil scoring.

After the runs went across, no one dreamed they would be sufficient to clinch victory. The fans surely didn’t think Robby could maintain the pace.

They still howled at him when they rose en masse for the lucky seventh, but when he got by that point without results, sentiment changed. He suddenly became a hero, and when Bassler, a pinch hitter, sent a fly to Mostil for the concluding out, Robby got an ovation that an athlete seldom is granted on a  foreign field.

Some pictures from the Tribune: first the headline:


And second, the box score:


Read the play-by-play for the 27 outs here.

Sandy Koufax’s Perfect Game

In lieu of repeating all the descriptions of Sandy Koufax’s perfect game that already exist, here is simply the cover of the Los Angeles Times sports section the day after the game:


Well, I will note that on the same day, Juan Marichal, making “his first start in San Francisco’s Candlestick Park since his Aug. 22 battle with John Roseboro” pitched his 10th shutout of 1965, a four-hitter, and got his 21st win, one behind Koufax. And, the one hit Bob Hendley gave up in this game, a bloop double by Lou Johnson in the seventh, did not produce the Dodgers’ run: that came on a walk to Johnson, a sacrifice by Ron Fairly, and Johnson’s steal of third, then coming home on Chris Krug’s bad throw.

(audio of Vin Scully calling Koufax’s final three outs is available here)

Waite Hoyt Retiring 27 Batters in a Row

Here’s some information on Waite Hoyt pitching for the Boston Red Sox on September 24, 1919, and maintaining perfection from the fourth inning to the 13th inning, or 27 batters in a row. That’s what the New York Times said the next day, anyway: other sources have said it’s more like 34 in a row. Anyway, the Times gave relatively little notice to the feat. It said: “Waite Hoyt, the Brooklyn schoolboy, pitched for the Red Sox in the second [game of a doubleheader] and Bob Shawkey officiated for the Yanks. Hoyt gave a remarkable performance of his pitching skill, and from the fourth inning to the thirteenth he did not allow a hit and not a Yankee runner reached first base. In these nine innings the youngster was at the top of his form and pitched with the coolness and skill of a veteran.”

But, Hoyt lost, 2-1 because of a Wally Pipp triple in the 13th: Pipp then scored on a sac fly hit to Babe Ruth in left. Ruth was the big star of the day: his homer in ninth tied the game at 1. His 28th homer went “high over the right field grand stand into Manhattan Field, which adjoins the Brush Stadium. This smashes the thirty-five-year-old record made by Ed Williamson with Chicago.”
The Times called it “the longest drive ever made at the Polo Grounds”: it “cleared the stand by many yards and went over into the weeds in the next lot.”

Published in: on June 17, 2009 at 9:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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