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.
With one game under his belt, San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner is nearly a quarter of the way to a record.
Bumgarner hit two home runs Sunday in a loss to the Diamondbacks (he took a perfect game into the sixth inning, but even with new personnel, the Giants’ bullpen continues to blow leads, dropping not one, but two save opportunities), each a solo shot and a towering blast. It was the first time that a pitcher had hit two home runs on Opening Day.
The record for home runs in a season by a pitcher is nine, set in 1931 by Indians hurler Wes Ferrell. Both Wes and his brother Rick found their way into the big leagues. Rick went on to a Hall of Fame career as a catcher. Wes’ career was good but not hall-worthy, at least, not yet; he was on the cringe-inducingly named pre-integration era ballot in 2016.
When a crowd of around 4,000 settled into their seats at League Park on April 29, 1931, they couldn’t have expected to see a little bit of history in that day’s game between the Indians and the St. Louis Browns. But they did see it – and not without controversy either.
Cleveland News sportswriter Ed Bang knew history was at hand. Syndicated sportswriter William Braucher told a tale from the press box that Bang – also the official scorer for the Indians – told a St. Louis sportswriter that he was going to see a no-hitter that day.
Given the opponent, it was probably an educated guess. The Browns were regarded for much of their existence as the dregs of the league (the unofficial slogan for St. Louis was “First in booze, first in shoes and last in the American League”), and were already tied for last place less than two weeks into the season.
The list of familial connections in the Hall of Fame is a short one.
The only father-and-son pairing are Lee and Larry MacPhail, both executives, and the only brothers are Paul and Lloyd Waner, both 1920s era players. All four were inducted by the veterans committee in its first incarnation.
This list could get a little longer tomorrow, as the inartfully-named Pre-Integration Committee votes on a list of ten candidates for induction. Among them is former Indians pitcher Wes Ferrell, whose brother Rick was inducted by the veterans committee in 1984.
Despite being three and a half games back and in third place with just 18 games to play, St. Louis Browns’ manager Zack Taylor thinks the Cleveland Indians have little to worry about.
“I just wish we were in the spot they’re in. I wouldn’t be doing too much worrying.”
The Tribe took two games from St. Louis yesterday in commanding fashion. After 4-1 and 9-1 victories over the Browns, Taylor thinks the Indians still are in control of their pennant pursuit because the Boston Red Sox do not play well at home.