Addie Joss throws the first perfect game in franchise history as the second place Cleveland Naps defeat the third place Chicago White Sox, 1-0, in what some (The Plain Dealer; October 3, 1908) deemed at the time as the “Greatest Game in History of Big League Baseball”.
Joss retired all 27 batters in order, needing just 74 pitches, with the Naps in the thick of the pennant chase. It was just the third perfect game recognized in organized baseball at the time, joining Johnny Ward of Providence against Buffalo in 1880 and Cy Young for Boston against Philadelphia in 1904. It was the second no-hitter thrown by the Naps this season, joining Bob Rhoads.
The game was not necessarily a breeze for the Naps as Eddie Walsh, Chicago’s starter, placed his name in the history books too by striking out a new league-record 15 batters over his eight innings of work. He allowed just the one run on four hits and a walk.
“About the seventh inning I began to realize that not one of the Sox had reached first base. No one on the bench dared breathe a word to that effect,” said Joss following the game. “Had he done so, he would have been chased to the clubhouse. Even I rapped on wood when I thought of it. I did not try for such a record. All I was doing was trying to beat Chicago, for the game meant much to us, and Walsh was pitching the game of his life. I never saw him have so much. In the third inning with [Joe] Birmingham on third I tried to bunt and actually could not get my bat out in time. In giving credit for my feat that now appears wonderful, don’t forget that the boys played grandly behind me, while Larry [Nap Lajoie] killed three drives that would have been hits for ordinary second basemen.”
Some in the crowd attempted quickly to get onto the field to carry Joss to the dressing room, but Joss evaded them. “I am taking no chances,” he said. “Suppose they had let me drop. The season is not over yet.”
The win brought the Naps’ winning percentage to .587, just four-thousandths behind front-running Detroit, with four games left to be played. They will finish at 90-64, one-half game behind the Tigers, who will lose in the World Series to the Chicago Cubs, four games to one.