April 30, 1946: Cleveland’s Bob Feller no-hits the Yankees, 1-0

This article was written by Lyle Spatz

(Courtesy of Trading Card Database)Cleveland’s Bob Feller had been baseball’s best pitcher in the years leading up to World War II. When war came, he was among the first to enlist, causing him to miss the 1942, 1943, and 1944 seasons, and most of the 1945 season. He made a dramatic return on August 24, 1945, against Detroit’s Hal Newhouser, who had already won 20 games that season. Newhouser, who had won the American League’s Most Valuable Player Award in 1944 and again in 1945, had replaced Feller as the game’s best pitcher. In a dramatic matchup that drew more than 46,000 fans to Cleveland Stadium, the Indians, behind Feller’s four-hitter, won, 4-2. Feller finished the season with a 5-3 record and a 2.50 earned-run average.

Much was expected of Feller when the 1946 season opened, the first since 1941 with the United States at peace. He did not disappoint. On Opening Day he defeated Chicago, 1-0, at Comiskey Park. He allowed three hits, three more than he allowed the White Sox in the same park on Opening Day 1940.1 He lost his next two starts, to Detroit and Chicago, in games in which the Indians scored just two runs in each. Feller had demonstrated that he had not lost his fastball by striking out 28 batters in the three games. Manager Lou Boudreau, scoffing at rumors that his ace had lost his prewar brilliance, declared: “All I can say to that is just come out and watch him pitch. In the three games he’s worked we’ve given him exactly five runs. The only time he won he had to pitch a shutout.”2

Nevertheless, Feller was under scrutiny when he faced the Yankees at Yankee Stadium on April 30. He had won a game against New York the previous September, defeating Spud Chandler. But that was the wartime Yankees. The 1946 Yankees had started 9-4, and they had Joe DiMaggio in center field, not Russ Derry, along with fellow future Hall of Famers shortstop Phil Rizzuto, second baseman Joe Gordon, and catcher Bill Dickey. The Indians also had three future Hall of Famers in their lineup: Feller, shortstop Boudreau, and center fielder Bob Lemon.3 The game drew a crowd of 38,112 on a mild, partly cloudy afternoon.

The 27-year-old Feller started wildly, walking a batter in each of the first four innings and another to start the sixth. But overall, he and his opponent, 29-year-old Bill Bevens, 13-9 in 1945, staged a magnificent pitching duel. Through eight innings neither pitcher had allowed a run; but more riveting was the crowd’s awareness of the Yankees’ failure to get a hit. “Why I’ve never seen a no-hit game and I don’t expect to see one today,” said Red Patterson, the Yankees’ director of public relations.4 The Yankees had not been no-hit since Ray Caldwell, also of Cleveland, threw one against them in the first game of a doubleheader at the Polo Grounds on September 10, 1919.

Feller retired the side in order in the seventh, and got the first two batters in the eighth, including a strikeout of Bevens, his 11th and final strikeout of the game. In retrospect it seems odd that Yankees manager Joe McCarthy did not pinch-hit for pitcher Bevens in this situation. Next up was Rizzuto, who hit a high pop foul near third base. It was a routine play, but the usually sure-handed Indians third baseman Ken Keltner dropped it. Rizzuto had another chance, but Feller retired him on a groundball to Boudreau to end the inning.

The Indians broke the scoreless deadlock when with one out in the ninth, Feller’s batterymate, Frankie Hayes, homered into the left-field seats. The Cleveland right-hander was three outs away from his second no-hitter, but they would not be easy. He would have to get by George Stirnweiss, the defending AL batting champion, clutch-hitting Tommy Henrich, and the great DiMaggio.

Stirnweiss led off the home ninth by pushing a bunt up the first-base line, that Les Fleming had trouble coming up with, allowing Stirnweiss to reach base. With Henrich at bat, it was announced over the loudspeaker that Fleming had been charged with an error on Stirnweiss’s bunt. A loud roar went up from the crowd, indicating that the fans were rooting for Feller to get his no-hitter. This was the first time such an announcement of a scorer’s ruling had been made at Yankee Stadium.

Henrich sacrificed Stirnweiss to second, and the confrontation between Feller and DiMaggio began. The two all-time greats, who came into the league 10 years earlier, had not faced each other in a league game since 1941.

“I threw DiMaggio my best fast ball on a 3-and-2 count, and he hit a grounder to Boudreau’s left,” Feller told author Bill Gilbert in a memoir. “Lou threw him out at first as Stirnweiss moved to third.”5

One out to go, but the batter was the always dangerous Charlie Keller. “You’re a long way from a no-hitter even when you have two men out in the ninth,” Feller said after the game. “But when I got through the seventh, I began to hope – and I could see that the other fellows were hoping with me.”6

On a 1-and-2 pitch, Feller’s 133rd of the game, Keller hit a groundball to second baseman Ray Mack. Mack fumbled the ball momentarily as the crowd held its breath, but he recovered in time to throw Keller out.7 Feller had his no-hitter. The crowd stood and cheered, and hundreds of fans surrounded him as he struggled to get to the dugout.

“I had more stuff today than when I pitched that other no-hitter against the White Sox on Opening Day in 1940,” he said later in the dressing room.8

Feller also credited the defensive plays turned in by Boudreau and Mack. “You made it possible, Lou,” he said. “They were great plays out there and I’m sure grateful.”9

“It was a Frank Merriwell game,” remarked Joe McCarthy. “I never saw anything like it.”10

“Anybody who had the stuff Feller had today,” chimed in DiMaggio, “deserved a no-hitter. We didn’t hit the ball solid all day.”11

Feller led the league with 26 wins in 1946, the fourth of his six 20-win seasons. He also led in games, games started, complete games, shutouts, innings pitched, walks, and strikeouts. Five years later, on July 1, 1951, he would throw a third no-hitter, defeating Detroit, 2–1.



In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted and



1 Feller no-hit the White Sox on April 16, 1940.

2 “Feller Faces Yanks Today in Big Test,” Akron Beacon Journal, April 30, 1946: 26.

3 During the season the Indians would convert Lemon from an outfielder to a pitcher, where he would compile a Hall of Fame career.

4 Ted Meier, “Feller’s No-Hit Story Has Punch, No Wallop,” Dayton (Ohio) Daily News, May 1, 1946: 18.

5 Bob Feller with Bill Gilbert, Now Pitching Bob Feller (New York: HarperPerennial, 1990), 131.

6 J.G. Taylor Spink, “Looping the Loops,” The Sporting News, May 9, 1946: 2.

7 Mack had also made the last play in Feller’s 1940 no-hitter, throwing out another left-handed-hitting outfielder, Taft Wright.

8 Meier.

9 Joe Trimble, “Feller’s Second No-Hitter Blanks Yanks, 1-0,” New York Daily News, May 1, 1946: 59.

10 Meier.

11 Meier.

Additional Stats

Cleveland Indians 1
New York Yankees 0

Yankee Stadium
New York, NY


Box Score + PBP:

Corrections? Additions?

If you can help us improve this game story, contact us.