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.”