Len Barker, getting the sign from Ron Hassey. Ernie Whitt stands in. Wind up, here it comes. Fly ball, center field. Manning coming on, he’s there…he catches it! Len Barker has pitched a no-hitter! A perfect game for Len Barker! The stands erupt, the players go out, Len Barker being surrounded on the field. He has made baseball history here tonight. Len Barker has pitched a perfect ball game. Faces 27 men, retires them all, eleven strikeouts. Len Barker being mobbed on the field, the Cleveland Indians win it, 3-0. – Herb Score’s call of Barker’s perfect game
Thirty-eight years ago today, the Cleveland Indians recorded the last no-hitter and perfect game in team history. I may be dating myself a great deal, but I was just a twinkle in an eye when the Indians added another name to the history book with the no-hitter and perfect game.
With the talented group of starting pitchers in the rotation over the last few years, it may be something of a surprise that the Indians have not been able to hold an opposing club hitless over the course of nine innings. Baseball has changed dramatically, with an influx of strikeouts and an emphasis on scoring with one mighty swing of the bat. While on several occasions the Tribe has flirted with history, they have not been able to complete the feat last accomplished when Len Barker, on May 15, 1981, lifted his leg high and tight on a 1-2 pitch to Toronto Blue Jays catcher Ernie Whitt, inducing a fly ball to center field. Rick Manning raced in, arms extended straight out as though he were flying. He raised both arms above his head and he secured the catch before beginning his sprint to the mound with several high hops in celebration of the 27th and final out of Barker’s perfect game.
There are some parts of the baseball experience we take for granted, which have been around since time immemorial, it seems. The games start with the national anthem, a tradition that dates back to World War I. Hot dogs are available to eat, which goes back to Harry Stevens’ contract with most major league clubs for concessions and scorecards.
And speaking of scorecards, they all feature pertinent information about the players (“You can’t tell the players without a scorecard,” Stevens himself would bellow as he tried to sell them), including their numbers. But uniform numbers are, comparatively speaking, a new tradition in baseball. It was “only” 90 years ago this week that two teams wearing uniform numbers took the field against each other – the Yankees and Indians at League Park.
The CC Sabathia farewell tour is bearing full steam ahead, and after his start Tuesday, has reached another milestone.
Sabathia is breathing some rare air after becoming the 17th major league pitcher – but just the third lefty – with at least 3,000 strikeouts. The first 1,265 came in an Indians uniform, still good for sixth all-time on the team’s career list.
There was a lot going on in the world when MLB owners met at the Hotel Cleveland (now the Renaissance) downtown this week in 1945.
President Franklin Roosevelt had just died, and the world of Major League Baseball paid tribute to him for his continued support of the National Pastime, most famously in his “Green Light Letter” that proclaimed it vital to national morale. There was even a movement afoot to get him enshrined in the new Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
It’s one of the great trivia questions in baseball history: What’s the only game where a team had the same batting average before the game as after it?
The answer, of course, is Bob Feller’s Opening Day no-hitter against the White Sox at Comiskey Park in 1940. But 30 years prior to that – this week in 1910 – Addie Joss also threw a no-hitter against the Pale Hose at Comiskey. It wasn’t an Opening Day no-hitter, but at the time, it was the earliest no-no in a season – and the first ever in the month of April.
Many accomplishments in Major League Baseball history have come and gone, to be expected on some level with the 162-game schedule and 30 teams competing on a nightly basis for six months of the year. Yet some records and performances have withstood the test of time and somewhat surprisingly, Bob Feller’s Opening Day no-hitter remains one of them.
It was on April 16, 1940, that Feller started the regular season with the first and only no-hitter in baseball history. Despite 39 Cleveland modern openers before it and the 79 openers that have followed, the historic effort has yet to be replicated.
In honor of Jackie Robinson Day, celebrated around Major League Baseball venues on April 15 of each season, we at Did The Tribe Win Last Night look back on Robinson’s ties to the city of Cleveland. This story, written by Vince Guerrieri, was originally published on July 29, 2015. – BT
Before he broke the color line, Robinson played in barnstorming tours that included Rapid Robert. Both had very well-defined opinions – and weren’t shy about sharing them. And both went into the Baseball Hall of Fame on the same day in 1962 – July 23.
In honor of Jackie Robinson Day, celebrated around Major League Baseball venues on April 15 of each season, we at Did The Tribe Win Last Night look back on Robinson’s ties to the city of Cleveland. This story originally published on April 15, 2016. – BT
On April 15th of every year, Major League Baseball takes pause to recognize the contributions of Jackie Robinson to the advancement of African-Americans and minorities as a whole in professional sports and, in a much larger construct, in the society as we know it today. Teams honor the life and legacy of Robinson by removing their traditional names and numbers from the backs of their jerseys, instead wearing a nameless #42, which returns to diamonds across the country on the anniversary of his breaking of the color barrier.
Last week, Trevor Bauer scuffled his way through seven no-hit innings for the Indians. The bullpen held on until the ninth inning, when Brad Hand lost the no-hitter and the shutout, although the Tribe still won.
Of course, it was against the Blue Jays – and not just because they’ve been one of the few teams this year with an offense even more anemic than the Tribe’s. Toronto has had a strange relationship with the Indians when it comes to no-hit games.
The Blue Jays – along with the Mariners – joined the American League as expansion teams in 1977. Four years later, the Jays were the victims of Len Barker’s perfect game, in weather not unlike what we saw last Thursday, a cold day early in the season in front of a small crowd. Barker’s perfect game remains the last no-hitter to date by an Indians pitcher. (There’s only been one other no-hitter by the Indians since the Jays started play: Dennis Eckersley’s Memorial Day no-no against the Angels in 1977.)
Opening Day carried a little more significance in 1975, when Cleveland’s Frank Robinson became the first African-American manager in Major League Baseball history. As if the occasion was not momentous enough, Robinson, whose official role with the Indians was that of player-manager, would make the date even more memorable in his first trip to the plate. Here’s a look back at Robinson and his historic day, through the words of DTTWLN’s Vince Guerrieri in 2015. – BT
When the Indians dealt for Frank Robinson in September 1974, at face value, it looked like they were hoping the slugger – who led the Orioles to four pennants and a pair of world titles after being dealt from the Reds to Baltimore in 1965 at “an old 30” – had a little left in the tank to keep the Tribe afloat in the American League East race. On September 12, 1974, the day of the trade – which was front-page news in Cleveland – the Indians were six games back with 20 to play.
The Tribe ended up finishing in fourth place, but Robinson would go on to make history.
Sunday, April 7, marks the 30th anniversary of the release of the beloved movie “Major League”. Written and directed by Rhode Islander David Ward (writer of box office hits like “The Sting” and “Sleepless in Seattle”) and featuring a star-studded cast, the movie follows efforts by Indians ownership to tank the season in order to set record-low attendance figures that would allow the widowed Rachel Phelps to move the franchise to Miami. Instead, hilarity and success ensue as the young upstart club finds itself under the guidance of manager Lou Brown and veteran catcher Jake Taylor. Today, we look back on a unique story that arose from the movie, as written by author Jonathan Knight in 2015. – BT
Picture Robert Stack in a dark overcoat meandering toward camera through a foggy alley. Over the opening chords of that tinkly theme song he speaks the following words in a low, gravelly voice that makes you think he’s passing along state secrets:
It’s a typical Tuesday night, and everybody’s settling in to watch the Indians’ latest textbook example of how not to score runs.
Just after the game begins (and the Indians strand their first runner in scoring position), venerable MLB.com reporter Jordan Bastian posts an intriguing little story. To coincide with that evening’s much-anticipated “Major League Night” at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Bastian chatted with Tribe manager Terry Francona about an enigmatic comment he made before the game.
Change was in the air as the 1973 baseball season began.
The biggest difference is that for the first time, the pitcher wouldn’t have to bat in the American League. The Junior Circuit had adopted the use of a designated hitter – something considered but voted down a dozen years earlier by the Pacific Coast League.
The most successful major league franchise, the Yankees, had fallen on hard times, and CBS sold them to the scion of a Cleveland shipbuilding family. George Steinbrenner had owned the Cleveland Pipers, a pro basketball team that had folded, and appeared to have learned his lesson, saying, “I won’t be active in the day-to-day operations of the club at all.”