Baseball was once known as the perfect game, a religion unto itself, lived and breathed and romanticized by those willing to follow along with the most cerebral of games played. Though full of its own perfections, it is not without flaws that come to the surface. Ten years ago this week, the Cleveland Indians and the Detroit Tigers played out a game marred by one such umpire ruling that drastically and directly altered a historic event in the making.
On June 2, 2010, Comerica Park was set to play host to the second of three games in a series between the visiting Cleveland Indians and the home Detroit Tigers. It was the third meeting of the clubs that season and the second time the Tribe had headed north to play their division rivals. Armando Galarraga drew the starting nod for the Tigers, looking to fend off the Tribe and its rebounding right-hander Fausto Carmona.
Dennis Eckersley’s stay in Cleveland was curiously short, but in his three seasons with the Indians, he gave the club glimpses of what ultimately became a Hall of Fame career.
Eckersley entered the pro game in 1972 when the Indians drafted the Washington Union High School (Fremont, California) in the third round of the June amateur draft. The 17-year-old stayed fairly close to home early on, reporting to the team’s Reno, Nevada, affiliate in the California League. He made 12 appearances there in 1972 and 31 more in 1973, including a 15-strikeout performance in eight innings in a particularly dominant outing. Between seasons, he married his high school sweetheart, Denise, whom he had met during their freshmen year of high school at Washington High.
At the age of 19, Eckersley moved on to San Antonio, pitching in the Double-A Texas League while showing steady improvement in his numbers. He was the top vote getter for the Texas League All-Star Game after a 13-3 start and was named the league’s pitcher of the year. It was enough to catch the eye of the Indians’ front office, which brought him to spring camp in 1975 with a chance to win a job.
It’s the kind of event that almost 30 years later seems improbable and remains one of the more bizarre home runs hit in the storied history of Major League Baseball.
Players have crashed into walls and over walls attempting to reel in deep flies, but the list of persons which can claim Jose Canseco’s experience with this particular memory and claim to fame has to be limited (although it has been, unfortunately, duplicated in recent years). Canseco, who mashed 462 homers in the big leagues over the course of a 17-year career (tarnished by performance enhancing allegations), never hit a home run that was quite as memorable to the one in question popped over the outfield fence in Cleveland in 1993.
Today we remember Len Barker’s perfect game against the Toronto Blue Jays in 1981, the last hitless game tossed by an Indians pitcher. This story was originally published by Bob Toth on May 15, 2019. – BT
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
The Cleveland Indians recorded the last no-hitter and perfect game in team history on May 15, 1981. 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 (and even last couple of decades), 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.
Five years ago this week, a struggling Corey Kluber took the mound still in search of his first win after winning the American League’s Cy Young Award for his outstanding efforts the previous season. He got that monkey off of his back in historic fashion in a game for the ages. We at Did The Tribe Win Last Night look back on his historic accomplishment in this week’s archives dive, going back to this story originally published November 24, 2015, by Bob Toth. – BT
In the defense of his first American League Cy Young Award, Corey Kluber looked a shell of his former self to begin the 2015 season.
It certainly was not entirely his fault. Through his first seven games, the Indians had been held winless in each outing and he took the loss in five of those games. While his 5.04 ERA in that stretch gave him a deserving chunk of the blame, the 18 runs of offense provided by his Cleveland teammates were enough to say that the losing skid was a united team effort.
Kluber took the mound on May 13th with a little something to prove to himself, to his teammates and fans, and to the rest of game of baseball. And prove it did he ever with a Herculean effort.
When thinking of incredible, insurmountable comebacks in the history of Major League Baseball, many fans (and especially Tribe fans) will look to August 5 of 2001, when the 61-48 Indians rallied back from two separate twelve-run deficits to shock the 80-30 Seattle Mariners with a stunning 15-14 extra inning walk-off win at Jacobs Field.
The unbelievable end results were heightened by the fact that both teams were very much in the playoff race and were destined to meet again in October, when the Mariners knocked off the Indians in five games in the American League Division Series after winning a Major League record 116 games (a record which still stands today).
Prior to that Herculean effort against the Mariners, the Indians’ largest home comeback at their gem at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario came on May 7, 1999, when the team used an 18-run barrage over its final three innings at the plate to stun the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 20-11. They accomplished it without Hall of Famer Jim Thome in the lineup, nor Hall worthy (in some eyes) Omar Vizquel, who was out of the lineup nursing a sore quad that had pestered him since mid-April.
With baseball rumored to be inching closer and closer to a proposed return, we at Did The Tribe Win Last Night continue to wait out the grueling absence of sports across the country by looking back at the past. Today’s trip down memory lane, published by Vince Guerrieri on November 18, 2015, looks back at what could have been for Indians hurler Herb Score. – BT
A policeman in Lake Worth, Florida, alerted Slapnicka – the man who discovered Bob Feller – about the fireballing southpaw. He was signed to a contract at the age of 19 – with a $60,000 bonus. While the Indians won 111 games and the American League pennant in 1954, Score was mowing down batters at Triple-A Indianapolis on the way to being named the minor league player of the year, with a record of 22-5 and 350 strikeouts.
And big things were expected of him even when he went to his first Indians spring training in 1955. He was tabbed by the Sporting News – the “Bible of Baseball” – as a Rookie of the Year candidate. And he delivered on that prediction, going 16-10 and leading the league with 245 strikeouts – the most by a rookie in 44 years, and a rookie record that stood until Dwight Gooden shattered it in 1984. Indians manager Al Lopez named Score to that year’s American League All-Star team.
The end of April has been a notably busy time for no-hitters in Cleveland Indians history. Did The Tribe Win Last Night looks back at the second time Bob Feller achieved this milestone of pitching history in 1946 in a story originally published by Bob Toth on April 30, 2016. – BT
Indians Hall of Fame hurler Bob Feller stunned the New York Yankees at home by throwing his second of three career no-hitters on April 30, 1946.
It was a remarkable feat for Feller, who added his name alongside Addie Joss as the only members of the Cleveland franchise to ever throw two hitless outings in their careers. He would later take that crown all for his own when he threw his third and final no-hitter on July 1, 1951, against the Detroit Tigers, adding it to the first he threw in his career with his memorable Opening Day no-hitter on April 16, 1940 (still the only such game thrown in MLB history).
Most pitchers aren’t even lucky enough to claim one no-hitter, so the notion that Feller had multiple to compare just lays credence to his abilities as a pitcher and his well-deserved spot among the baseball immortals in Cooperstown, New York.
One of the forgotten gems in Indians’ history was thrown 81 years ago this week as Wes Ferrell blanked the St. Louis Browns and his brother, 9-0. Did The Tribe Win Last Night shares its account of that game through the eyes of Vince Guerrieri in a story originally published on April 27, 2016. – BT
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.
With no baseball on the field across the country, our options are limited for sports content in our lives. With that in mind, here is another story unearthed in the Did The Tribe Win Last Night archives to help pass the pandemic times. – BT
This story was first published on April 23, 2016, by Bob Toth.
The Indians had dropped their sixth game in nine efforts and the first of a four-game series in Boston against the Red Sox, just over two-thirds of the way through the opening month of the season. Cleveland first baseman Andre Thornton was in his second season with the club after bouncing around four different National League organizations over the previous ten-plus years in professional baseball.
Our Did The Tribe Win Last Night pandemic history lessons continue this week as we look back at the second career no-hitter hurled by Addie Joss during the 1910 season. This story was originally published by Vince Guerrieri on April 18, 2019. – BT
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.
The number 42 should have come out of retirement on April 15 as part of Major League Baseball’s annual recognition of the accomplishments of Jackie Robinson. With baseball instead an afterthought in the new era of social distancing, we at Did The Tribe Win Last Night continue to dig through the archives weekly to provide some distraction amidst the chaos.
Today’s post comes courtesy of Vince Guerrieri in a story originally published on July 29, 2015.