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
It has now been 37 years since Len Barker 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 ascent to the mound with several high hops in celebration of the 27th and final out of Barker’s perfect game.
Ray Caldwell jogged out to the pitcher’s mound – not exactly new territory – he had pitched at Cleveland’s Dunn Field many times before. This time, however (for the first time), it was not as a Yankee or Red Sox – Caldwell wore an Indians uniform. It was August 24, 1919. The Yankees had passed Caldwell along to the Red Sox and the latter had released him. In the twilight of his career, he had something to prove.
1919 – Cleveland’s Ray Caldwell throws a no-hitter against his former team, the New York Yankees, winning 3-0 at the Polo Grounds.
Caldwell had been signed by the Indians just over three weeks earlier after he was released by the …
In the summer of 1919, Ray Caldwell was on baseball’s discard pile, having been cut loose by the Red Sox. He was almost universally regarded as talented, but his taste for alcohol and nightlife did him no favors.
Tris Speaker signed Caldwell – with a clause in his contract that he would get drunk after each start. He started six games, winning five – including one where not only was he hit by lightning at League Park, but he got up and finished the game afterward – and remained on the team for 1920, going 20-10. He would be the Indians’ starter for Game 3 of the World Series.
The Indians departed Cleveland for St. Louis on Sept. 25 hanging on to a half-game lead in the American League. If ever there was a time to put it away, it would be against the Browns, a fourth-place team that the Indians had been able to handle throughout the year.
The Indians scored three in the first inning, but Ray Caldwell got shelled in the bottom half of the frame, giving up five runs. Indians player-manager Tris Speaker turned to George Uhle, a second-year player who had won 10 games in 1919. Uhle had made just six starts that year, and his ERA was up over 5. But that day, he threw six shutout innings and helped start a third-inning rally with a two-run double. Stan Coveleski came on for the save and the Indians won 7-5. Meanwhile, the White Sox beat the Tigers 8-1 to keep pace.
Duster Mails took the hill for the Indians at Sportsman’s Park on Sept. 27, and the Browns countered with Dixie Davis. Mails gave up a bases-loaded single to George Sisler, putting the Browns up 2-0, but settled in for his seventh win of the season as the Indians won 8-4. Charlie Jamieson picked a great time for his first home run, hitting a three-run shot in the top of the eighth. The White Sox shut out the Tigers that day, 2-0, and once again, the Indians remained half a game up.
On Sept. 23, the Indians were clinging to a 1 ½ game lead over the White Sox as the two teams started a three-game series at League Park. There were 10 games left to play, and the pennant was still up for grabs.
But the White Sox had other things to worry about. The grand jury impaneled to look into allegations of the fixing of a Phillies-Cubs game had started hearing testimony that was regarded as unthinkable: That the White Sox had thrown the previous year’s World Series.
“The last World Series between the Chicago White Sox and Cincinnati Reds was not on the square,” Assistant State’s Attorney Hartley Replogle said. “From five to seven players on the White Sox team are involved.”
So when Caldwell made his debut for the Indians on Aug. 24, 1919, at League Park, he wasn’t going to let anything keep him from finishing the start – not even an act of God.
Caldwell took the hill with a 2-1 lead against the Athletics in the top of the ninth and a chance to finish out the game. Both Indians runs were scored in the fourth inning without the benefit of a hit, as Ray Chapman and Speaker were both walked, and came around to score on a sacrifice, an infield out and an error. Caldwell hit George Burns in the top of the fifth, and Burns ultimately scored as well.