SABR

Walter Johnson: King of 1-0 hurlers

By Al Kermisch

This article was published in the 1972 Baseball Research Journal.

Vida Blue lost two consecutive 1-0 games in 1971 and fans wondered why those Oakland batters couldn't get this great pitcher some runs. Walter Johnson had this same problem a half century ago, but it wasn't for just two games, or two seasons, but for 20 years.

Johnson, in the course of his career, participated in no less than 64 1-0 games, winning 38 and losing 26 (including two in relief). He took part in twice as many minimum scoring contests as any other hurler. Not counted is his classic 12-inning 0-0 tie game with Jack Quinn of the Yankees on May 11, 1919. Quinn gave up 10 hits, including one to Johnson, and the Big Train gave up only two in 12 frames. He retired 28 men in a row (George Halas of later football fame going 0-5), but the Nats couldn't get him any runs.

The longest 1-0 game for Johnson was his 18-inning win over Claude Williams of the White Sox on May 15, 1918. He also had three that went 15 innings and five others that went overtime. Walter also had a half dozen 1-0 losses in extra time. In the 11-inning game of July 29, 1918 at Chicago, he pitched only the last 1 and 2/3 innings in relief of Harry Harper and was the loser.

Thirty-four different hurlers were Johnson victims, with Doc White, Addie Joss, John Wyckoff, and A. Rankin Johnson being double losers. Twenty-one pitchers defeated the Washington star, with Ed Walsh and Babe Ruth each winning three times, and Ray Collins twice. It is interesting to note that although George Sisler won only 5 games in his career, one was a 1-0 thriller over Johnson in 1916. Following is a complete listing of Johnson's 1-0 games.

 

Against Home W.L. Away Totals
Boston 1-3 4-6 5-9
Chicago 6-2 2-4 8-6
Cleveland 4-1 0-1 4-2
Detroit 2-1 0-3 2-4
New York 4-1 2-1 6-1
Philadelphia 7-1 1-2 8-2
St. Louis 3-1 2-2 5-2
  27-8 11-18 38-26

 

1-0 games won (38)

Date of
game
Opponent  Pitcher IP H SO BB
Sep. 7 1907 Bos. Cy Morgan 9 7 7 1
Aug. 14 1908 Chi. Doc White 9 2 10 4
Oct. 7 1908 N.Y. Jack Warhop 11 5 8 0
June 11 1909 Det. Ed Killian 7 4 7 1
Aug. 4 1909 C 1ev. Addie Jose 9 4 8 2
Aug. 17 1909 Phil. Chief Bender 12 4 5 6
May 14 1910 Clev. Addie Jose 9 5 8 0
Aug. 4 1911 Chi. Doc White 11 5 4 2
Apr. 15 1912 N.Y. Jack Quinn 9 4 6 4
May 10 1913 Chi. Joe Benz (L) 9 2 4 1
        Frank Lange        
June 6 1913 StL. W. Leverenz (L) 9 5 8 1
        Earl Hamilton        
July 3 1913 Bos. Ray Collins 15 15 5 1
Sep. 5 1913 N.Y. Russ Ford 9 3 8 1
Sep. 29 1913 Phil. John Wyckoff 9 5 9 1
May 29 1914 Bos. A.R. Johnson (L) 9 2 3 2
        Fritz Coumbe        
July 6 1914 Bos. A.R. Johnson (L) 9 5 6 1
        Guy Cooper        
Sep. 18 1914 StL. Harry Hoch 9 5 7 1
Apr. 28 1915 Phi. John Wyckoff 9 7 4 1
Sep. 8 1915 N.Y. Bob Shawkey 9 6 10 2
June 7 1917 Chi. Reb Russell 9 3 6 1
Aug. 6 1917 StL. Eddie Plank 11 5 3 1
May 11 1918 Clev. Jim Bagby, Sr. 9 5 5 4
May 15 1918 Chi. Claude Williams 18 10 9 1
July 25 1918 StL. Allen Sothoron 15 4 3 2
Aug. 10 1918 Phil. John Watson 9 7 10 0
Apr. 23 1919 Phil. Scott Perry 13 9 6 3
June 13 1919 Clev. Guy Morton 9 4 2 3
June 29 1919 Phil. Rollie Naylor 9 6 4 1
July 3 1919 N.Y. Ernie Shore (L) 9 7 4 2
        Pete Schneider        
July 24 1919 Phil. Walt Kinney 9 6 8 1
July 1 1920 Bos. Harry Harper 9 0 10 0
Sep. 14 1921 StL. Frank Davis 9 3 5 0
June 18 1922 Chi. Urban Faber 9 4 1 4
June 28 1922 N.Y. Waite Hoyt 9 7 9 0
Aug. 24 1922 Chi. Ted Blankenship 9 5 5 0
July 30 1923 Det. George Dauss 9 6 6 3
Sep. 26 1923 Chi. Hollis Thurston 9 6 5 0
Apr. 13 1926 Phil. Eddie Rommel 15 6 9 3

 

1-0 games lost (26)

Date  of game
Opponent Pitcher
IP H SO BB
Aug. 14 1907 StL. Barney Pelty 8 6 5 4
Aug. 24 1908 Det. Bill Donovan 9 10 6 3
Sep. 18 1908 Chi. Ed Walsh 8 3 5 1
May 7 1909 Phil. Jack Coombs 8 5 9 2
May 10 1909 Chi. Doc White 10 7 5 2
July 31 1909 Chi. Bill Burns 9 3 5 1
Aug. 29 1909 Chi. Ed Walsh 5* 5 1 1
July 17 1910 Det. Ed Willett 8 4 7 0
Aug. 23 1910 Chi. Ed Walsh 9 9 12 1
Sep. 6 1912 Bos. Joe Wood 8 6 5 1
May 30 1913 Bos. Ray Collins 9 8 9 0
Aug. 28 1913 Bos. Ray Collins 11 3 10 0
June 1 1914 Bos. A.R. Johnson 8 5 8 2
May 9 1915 Det. Jean Dubuc 8 6 6 5
June 1 1916 Bos. Babe Ruth 8 4 6 2
July 3 1916 N.Y. Ray Caldwell 11 5 4 3
Aug. 15 1916 Bos. Babe Ruth 13 7 5 5
Sep. 17 1916 StL. George Sisler 8 4 8 2
May 7 1917 Bos. Babe Ruth 9  4 7 1
May 4 1918 Phil. Scott Perry 6** 5 0 1
June 2 1918 Clev. Jim Bagby, Sr. 11 8 2 2
July 29 1918 Chi. Joe Benz 2** 3 1 0
June 25 1919 Bos. Sam Jones 8 9 2 2
July 21 1922 Clev. Guy Morton 8*** 5 2 2
Sep. 2 1922 Bos. Bill Piercy 9 5 2 2
June 7 1926 Det. Ed Wella 8 4 4 3

 

* Left game because of sore arm; replaced by C. Smith.

** Lost in relief; Harry Harper started game.

*** Left for pinch hitter in 8th; Ray Francis pitched ninth inning in relief.

Ken Sanders of Milwaukee appeared in 83 games in 1971, which is no record, but he finished 77 of these games, and that is a major league mark. This pairs him off with oldtimer William White of the 1879 Cincinnati club who set the all-time mark with 74 starts. But who pitched the most games in a season neither starting or finishing? In 1965 Jim Dickson of Kansas City was “middleman” 48 times in 68 games, and Dan McGinn of Montreal equaled that mark in 1969 In 74 total gases.

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