Walter Johnson: King of 1-0 hurlers
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.
1-0 games won (38)
|Aug.||4||1909||C 1ev.||Addie Jose||9||4||8||2|
|May||10||1913||Chi.||Joe Benz (L)||9||2||4||1|
|June||6||1913||StL.||W. Leverenz (L)||9||5||8||1|
|May||29||1914||Bos.||A.R. Johnson (L)||9||2||3||2|
|July||6||1914||Bos.||A.R. Johnson (L)||9||5||6||1|
|May||11||1918||Clev.||Jim Bagby, Sr.||9||5||5||4|
|July||3||1919||N.Y.||Ernie Shore (L)||9||7||4||2|
1-0 games lost (26)
|June||2||1918||Clev.||Jim Bagby, Sr.||11||8||2||2|
* 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.
This article originally appeared in the 1972 "Baseball Research Journal."