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.
Joss started the opener April 14, 1910, against the Tigers at Bennett Park, the Tigers’ home before Navin Field (later Briggs, and after that Tiger Stadium), but still at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull. Joss and the Naps prevailed 1-0 in 10 innings. Two of the next three games also went into extra innings. Joss’ second start of the year came April 20, against Doc White and White Sox. It was a warm but windy day, giving outfielders and catchers fits while getting under pop-ups.
The Naps allowed just three baserunners. In the second inning, Freddy Parent hit a ball down the third base line. Bill Bradley bobbled the ball before throwing to first. Parent beat the throw, and the play was scored as an error.
The only other White Sox baserunners came from two walks by Joss. The first was to pitcher Doc White in the third with two outs, but he remained stranded at first at the end of the inning. Parent walked in the fifth, took second on a sacrifice by Billy Purtell and made it to third with an infield out by Lena Blackburne.
White was almost as good as Joss, but the Indians finally scratched out a run in the sixth, when Art Kruger lofted a “Texas league bingle,” as the next day’s Plain Dealer reported, that landed in no-man’s land behind second base. Bradley popped out, but Kruger scored from first on a double to left field by Terry Turner. It was all the offense the Naps could muster – and all Joss needed.
“The game was a corker for the critical baseball fan,” wrote the wire service account in the next day’s Plain Dealer. “But not much to the man who likes to see plenty of slugging and baserunning.” It’s comforting how little baseball has changed in some ways.
With the no-hitter, Joss became just the second American League pitcher with two no-hit games, the other being his teammate at the time, Cy Young. Both Young and Joss were also the only American Leaguers who had pitched a perfect game. Joss’ came at the end of the 1908 season at League Park – also against the White Sox, ironically, in a game when Ed Walsh struck out 15 batters and took the loss.
The win also gave the Naps first place by a game. They wouldn’t stay long at the top, losing the next four games. The Naps finished 71-81, good for fifth place in the American League.
Photo: baseball card, American Tobacco Company (1909)