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League Park - The Perfect Game

Addie Joss

Addie Joss

April 12, 1880, Woodland, WI
April 14, 1911, Toledo, Ohio

 

A perfect game is like a masterpiece. It is uncommon and when experienced is like no other event in the game. In 1908 a young up and coming pitcher for the new American League Cleveland Naps accomplished this feat at League Park.

What exactly is a perfect game? Author Paul Dickson in The New Baseball Dictionary (1999) describes it best with, "A no-hitter in which no opposing player reaches first base, either by a base hit, base on balls, hit batter, or fielding error; i.e., the pitcher or pitchers retire all twenty-seven opposing batters in order." This is a tall order!

On October 2, 1908 the Cleveland Naps were hosting the Chicago White Sox. The pennent race was neck and neck with the Detroit Tigers. Every game counted in these final days of the season. The game that unfolded that day was a clash of pitching titans. Both Addie Joss for Cleveland and future Hall of Fame pitcher Big Ed Walsh for Chicago were throwing well. At the end of the day Walsh would have given up only four hits and one run but was out pitched by Joss.

Addie Joss not only out pitched Walsh he was only the second American League pitcher to pitch a perfect game. The feat was first accomplished by none other than Cy Young.

Pitching a perfect game anywhere would be challenging. At League Park the challenge would be even greater. The short right field fence (290 feet) invited batters to swing for the fence. The spacious center field (460 feet) begged batters to leg out extra base hits.

Since today we do not have video to review the feat we must rely on reports from the field and let our imaginations carry us back to Cleveland. "A mouse working his way along the grandstand floor would have sounded like a shovel scraping over concrete," and a half century later Arthur Daley of the New York Times described the performance by Addie Joss with, "the most astonishing clutch job baseball has had." *

The box score below says it all. In one hour and thirty two minutes Joss did what few have done. A perfect game would not be pitched in Cleveland again for another 73 years. This perfect game was a jewel in the crown that was making League Park a place where baseball history was made.

For Addie Joss the future would see him throw a no hitter in 1910. Tragically for Cleveland and baseball Addie became ill prior to the start of the 1911 season and died in Toledo, Ohio. Addie is laid to rest at Woodlawn Cemetery in Toledo.

In 1978 the Veterans Committee elected Addie Joss to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Addie Joss is the only player in the Hall of Fame to have the 10 year rule of service waived. Addie Joss short but sterling career set the standard for future pitchers to follow. His raw talent was unquestionable. His lifetime ERA of 1.89 (second all time) and 160 wins in his career were remarkable. He averaged twenty plus wins every season, and had seven one-hit performances.

For baseball fans the vision Addie Joss spinning a masterpiece at League Park on that fall afternoon in Cleveland will spark our imaginations for an eternity.

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E

Chicago

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1

Cleveland

0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 4 0

 

NAME IP H R ER BB SO

Addie Joss

9.0 0 0 0 0 3

Addie Joss Day - League Park - A Special All-Star Game

Addie Joss' Death Benefit Game, July 24, 1911. Cleveland pitcher Addie Joss died of tubercular meningitis, an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain, April 14, 1911. Charles Somers, the owner of the Cleveland team, wanted to put together a benefit game for the Joss family. So, the AL scheduled a benefit game for his family. It was played between an AL all-star team and Cleveland. The game raised $12,914, for Lillian Joss, as a crowd of 15,270 saw the AL All-Stars win, 5-3. Clyde Milan replaced Speaker in CF midway through the game, and Walter Johnson blanked the Naps on 1 hit in 3 innings in relief of Wood, who relieved Russ Ford. The Cleveland team featured Nap Lajoie, Joe Jackson, and Cy Young.

AL All-Stars, Standing, L-R; Bobby Wallace (SS), Frank Baker (3B), Joe Wood (P), Walter Johnson (P), Hal Chase (1B), Clyde Milan (CF), Russell Ford (P), Eddie Collins (2B).

Seated, L-R; Germany Schaeffer (1B), Tris Speaker (CF), Sam Crawford (RF), Jimmy McAleer (Mgr.), Ty Cobb (Cleveland uniform) (OF), Gabby Street (C), Paddy Livingston (C).
Joss All-Star Game

* Article and photo from Baseball-Fever.com

More about the Addie Joss Day at League Park

Addie Joss obituary

* baseball-almanac.com