Lew Krausse Jr. (Trading Card DB)

June 16, 1961: Lew Krausse Jr. twirls debut shutout 10 days after high-school graduation

This article was written by Larry DeFillipo

Lew Krausse Jr. (Trading Card DB)On the Saturday before graduating from high school in June 1961, 18-year-old Lew Krausse Jr. watched from a box seat at Griffith Stadium in Washington, DC, as hurler Norm Bass tossed the Kansas City A’s first shutout of the season.1 Sitting with Krausse was his father, former major-league pitcher Lew Krausse Sr., and their host, Athletics owner Charlie Finley.

Just 13 days later, on June 16, Krausse registered the A’s next shutout. In that game, Krausse, one of the few pitchers since 1901 to jump from high school onto a major-league mound,2 became the youngest American League or National League hurler to author a nine-inning shutout – and, through the 2023 season, the only player in either league to both throw a shutout and have a multi-hit game before turning 19.3

To say that Lew Krausse Jr. was a dominant high-school pitcher is like saying Mickey Mantle in the early ’60s had a little pop in his bat. Over his last two years at Chester (Pennsylvania) High School, Krausse posted a 13-1 record, with a microscopic 0.09 ERA, while striking out 20.3 batters per nine innings and allowing only 21 hits over 102 innings.4 Krausse threw 10 no-hitters during that time against high-school, American Legion, and Delaware County League competition.5

Featuring a blazing fastball and what Philadelphia Phillies owner Bob Carpenter called “a remarkable curveball for a schoolboy, nasty and accurate,”6 Krausse attracted hordes of major-league scouts to his senior-year outings. At one mid-May game, 18 scouts and upper management representatives were on hand, including Chester native Danny Murtaugh, manager of the defending World Series champion Pittsburgh Pirates.7 Also in the stands was an A’s scout who had the inside track on signing young Krausse: his dad.

Like his son, Lew Krausse Sr. had been a standout high-school pitcher. A product of Media High School, near Philadelphia, Krausse Sr. was pursued by multiple teams before signing on with Connie Mack and the Philadelphia A’s.8 Just 19 years old when he won his first major-league start to close out the 1931 regular season, Krausse also pitched for the A’s in 1932. Beginning in 1946, he managed a variety of A’s and Phillies lower-level affiliates before becoming a scout.

June 6 was graduation day for Lew Jr., what the local Delaware County Times called “D (for decision) Day.”9 As many expected, he signed with Kansas City, for a $125,000 bonus. It was baseball’s largest ever, according to Athleticss general manager Frank Lane, and twice as much as any bonus ever handed out by the A’s.10

“I lost a little sleep over it,” club owner Finley explained at the press conference announcing Krausse’s signing. Admitting he generally opposed big bonus payments, Finley nonetheless approved the offer. “I’m a firm believer in that old adage ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained.’”11

The day after he signed, Krausse was in an A’s uniform, throwing on the sidelines at Yankee Stadium. He rode manager Joe Gordon’s bench for the next week as Kansas City wrapped up a 24-game road trip, traveling from New York to Cleveland and then Minnesota.

The team Krausse joined was one in the midst of a makeover. Between June 1 and 14, Lane, known as “Frantic Frank” for his habit of trading ballplayers, traded away seven players from the major-league roster in exchange for nine newcomers.12 The stated goal of all this wheeling and dealing was to bolster the pitching corps, but it was no coincidence that a younger team emerged.

A Kansas City team filled with new faces returned home for a night game with the expansion Los Angeles Angels on Friday, June 16. Krausse, not yet two months past his 18th birthday, and the youngest player on a major-league roster, got the starting nod.

Anxious to see the A’s high-priced bonus baby, 25,869 spectators streamed into Municipal Stadium, the largest home crowd of the year to that point. They were treated to a pregame fireworks show as they waited for home-plate umpire Al Smith to cry, “Play ball!”13

The A’s (25-31) were in seventh place in the American League, 11 games behind the first-place troika of the Yankees, Detroit Tigers, and Cleveland Indians. The last-place Angels, their record 21-41, were limping into their final stop on a seven-city, 27-game road trip as losers of eight straight. Angels manager Bill Rigney sent Ken McBride to the mound, hoping to change their luck. The anchor of the Angels rotation, McBride was 5-4 with a 2.50 ERA that stood second in the league.

Krausse faced a power-laden lineup that went on to finish second in the AL in home runs behind the record-setting Yankees of Mantle and Maris,14 but on this day the Angels had two of their regulars on the bench. Catcher Earl Averill was recovering from a split index finger, and cleanup hitter Ken Hunt, the Angels’ regular center fielder, was getting a day off after playing every game on the Angels’ lengthy road trip.15

The pride of Chester didn’t disappoint in his first inning as a professional. Paired with backstop Joe Pignatano, who’d recently won the Athletics’ everyday catching job, Krausse retired Albie Pearson, Rocky Bridges, and Leon Wagner in order. He allowed only two baserunners in his first four innings, a bloop single to left in the second by rookie Lee Thomas and a walk to Wagner in the fourth, the latter erased by an inning-ending double play.

McBride held Kansas City scoreless over the first three innings, but the A’s broke through in the fourth. Jerry Lumpe legged out a leadoff infield single, then changed places with short-timer Wes Covington after a force out.16 A one-out opposite-field double off the left-field fence by Norm Siebern brought Covington home.

Staked to a one-run lead, Krausse held fast over the next two frames, working around a walk to six-time AL walks leader Eddie Yost in the fifth and another to McBride in the sixth.

A second infield hit by Lumpe started the A’s next rally, in the sixth. After the Kansas City sparkplug advanced to second on a groundout, McBride gave Siebern an intentional pass, bringing up righty Deron Johnson. Johnson, mired in a 3-for-23 slump entering the game, and playing in just his second game with Kansas City since being traded from the New York Yankees, coaxed a walk. A single to right by another recent arrival, Reno Bertoia, acquired from the Twins two weeks earlier, brought Lumpe and Siebern home and advanced Johnson to third. Pignatano plated Johnson with a sacrifice fly to center, making the score 4-0, Kansas City. Krausse followed with an infield dribbler for his first major-league hit.

Krausse continued to navigate his way through the LA lineup, with the help of timely double plays. A one-out hit in the seventh by Steve Bilko was erased when Thomas grounded into a 4-6-3 double play. A strike-’em-out-throw-’em out double play in the eighth was the fourth twin killing of the game for Kansas City.17

The A’s failed to tack on any runs against a pair of relievers who followed McBride. In the eighth Krausse singled off Ron Kline for his second hit of the game.

In the ninth, Krausse retired leadoff batter Pearson on a grounder to second and struck out pinch-hitter Ted Kluszewski, a veteran more than twice his age, for the second out. After Krausse walked Wagner on a full count, Pignatano came out to the mound. “He just bawled hell out of me,” Krausse disclosed later. “Told me to throw it in there and let’s get it over with.”18

A mishandled grounder by rookie shortstop Dick Howser, the majors’ leader in errors that year with 38, gave LA life, but not for long. Thomas popped out to Bertoia to secure a 114-pitch, three-hit shutout for Krausse – and end what the Kansas City Times called “the most electrifying game in years.”19

Krausse was mobbed on the mound by his teammates and owner Finley, who “smothered [him] with kisses.”20 “Thank goodness it’s over,” admitted a weary Krausse, who hadn’t pitched more than seven innings in 10 weeks and had never before pitched a night game.21 “This has been the longest day of my life.”22  

“In the hearts of the Kansas City fans, 18-year-old Lew Krausse Jr. already is a young Walter Johnson and Bob Feller combined,” declared the Kansas City Star.23 Finley, who’d paused at giving Krausse $125,000, proclaimed he wouldn’t sell the youngster for $6 million.24 Gordon called it “the greatest pitching performance by a youngster I’ve seen in the majors.”25

As the postgame celebration waned, Krausse confessed that he was nervous starting out. “I was really scared while I was warming up and I stayed scared a few innings,” he said, adding, “but I hope Mr. Gordon will let me pitch again real soon.”26

Gordon never got the chance. Three days later he was fired and replaced by veteran outfielder Hank Bauer.

Used sparingly the rest of the 1961 season, Krausse spent the next year at Class A Binghamton.27 When he finally returned to the A’s, for a start against the Washington Senators in April of 1964, Krausse lasted just one-third of an inning.28



This article was fact-checked by Jim Sweetman and copy-edited by Len Levin.



In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted David E. Skelton’s SABR biography of Lew Krausse Jr. and Warren Corbett’s SABR biography of Frank Lane. He also consulted issues of the Delaware County Times (Chester, Pennsylvania) in compiling game logs for Krausse’s amateur career. The Baseball-Reference.com, Retrosheet.org, and Baseball-Almanac.com websites also provided pertinent material, including box scores listed at the links below:





1 Bill Fuchs, “Senators Shut Out by A’s Rookie on Six Singles, 8-0,” Washington Star, June 4, 1961: F-1. The shutout was also the first of two that Bass authored in his major-league career.

2 Since 1901, approximately 20 youngsters have made the jump from high school to pitching in the National or American League, including Hall of Famer Bob Feller; Joe Nuxhall, the youngest ballplayer in major-league history; 196-game winner Claude Osteen; and six-time All-Star Johnny Antonelli. With approximately 40 Negro League pitchers known to have debuted before the age of 19, the total number of major leaguers who have gone from a schoolyard to a major-league mound may be much higher.

3 At 18 years and 36 days old, Milwaukee’s Joey Jay is the youngest AL or NL pitcher to throw a shutout since 1901. He tossed a darkness-shortened seven-inning shutout over the Cincinnati Reds in the nightcap of a September 20, 1953, doubleheader. Krausse was 16 days older when he shut out the Angels in this game, on June 16, 1961. Since 1901, only eight AL or NL pitchers aged 18 or under have thrown shutouts, none of whom had a multi-hit game before reaching the age of 19.

4 Based on a game log compiled by the author. Krausse’s sole loss came near the end of his senior year, to an unrelated pitcher with nearly the same last name – Joe Kraus of Upper Darby High School. “Royals Nip Chester, Bucs Suffer First Setback,” Delaware County Times, May 19, 1961: 16.

5 Based on a game log compiled by the author. Krausse’s schoolboy no-hitter total was widely reported as 18 when he signed with Kansas City, a number that included games he pitched at all levels, including junior high school and Little League.

6 Larry Merchant, “$100,000 Question: Like Father, Like Son?” Philadelphia Daily News, May 18, 1961: 56.

7 “‘Brass’” Flocks to Game,” Delaware County Times, May 19, 1961: 16.

8 “$100,000 Question: Like Father, Like Son?”

9 Matt Zabitka, “It’s ‘D-Day’ for Krausse,” Delaware County Times, June 6, 1961: 14. Major-league rules prohibited signing prospects prior to midnight on their high-school graduation day.

10 Ernest Mehl, “A’s Pay Record Bonus,” Kansas City Star, June 8, 1961: 20. Baseball-Almanac.com identifies $119,000 given to Hawk Taylor by the Milwaukee Braves in 1957 as the largest bonus prior to Krausse’s signing. The list, however, does not include Krausse, indicating that it is incomplete. “MLB Bonus Babies,” Baseball Almanac website, https://www.baseball-almanac.com/legendary/Bonus_Babies.shtml, accessed October 31, 2023.

11 Joe McGuff, “Krausse Tough at Plate as Well as on the Mound,” Kansas City Star, June 9, 1961: 28.

12 On June 1 Lane acquired infielder Reno Bertoia from the Minnesota Twins for outfielder Bill Tuttle. On the day of Krausse’s signing, first baseman Marv Throneberry was traded to the Baltimore Orioles. As the A’s neared the end of their three-week exodus, Lane dealt third baseman Andy Carey and three others to the Chicago White Sox in a deal that brought them former 18-game winner Bob Shaw and three others, and spot starter Bud Daley went to the Yankees in exchange for former A’s pitcher Art Ditmar and 22-year-old first baseman Deron Johnson. The Daley trade was the 17th deal between the A’s and New York since 1955.

13 “A’s Fireworks to Be Displayed Early,” Kansas City Star, June 16, 1961: 34. Before gametime, traffic was jammed in all directions for two miles, according to a United Press International report. The Kansas City Times reported that the number of tickets sold at the gate, over 16,000, was a team record. Ernest Mehl, “A’s Bonus Baby a Victor,” Kansas City Times, June 17, 1961: 1; United Press International, “‘Wonderful Father’s Day Gift,’ Says New A’s Star,” Boston American, June 17, 1961: 5.

14 The 1961 Yankees set a major-league record for the most home runs in one season, with 240, a record that stood for over four decades.

15 Braven Dyer, “Chisox Again Beat Angels – 4-1, 9-8,” Los Angeles Times, June 15, 1961: IV-1.

16 Acquired in Lane’s June 10 deal with the White Sox, Covington spent less than a month with Kansas City before being traded once again, to the Philadelphia Phillies.

17 On that play Yost, who’d drawn yet another walk, was gunned down trying to steal second as Krausse fanned Averill, pinch-hitting, despite his bad finger, for light-hitting Ed Sadowski

18 Associated Press, “‘Dad Said Throw Strikes’ – Krausse,” Los Angeles Times, June 18, 1961: H-4.

19 “A’s Bonus Baby a Victor.”

20 “‘Dad Said Throw Strikes’ – Krausse.”

21 Seven innings was the regulation length for games in Krausse’s high-school district in 1961. On April 6 Krausse pitched all 11 innings of a 2-2 tie, the only time he exceeded seven innings during his senior year.  Paul O’Boynick, “It’s Almost Too Much for Lew,” Kansas City Times, June 17, 1961: 26; “Fords, Clippers Play Tie,” Delaware County Times, April 7, 1961: 18.

22 William F. Woo, “Exciting Pitching Thrills Fans,” Kansas City Times, June 17, 1961: 1.

23 “We Love Him in Kansas City,” Kansas City Star, June 19, 1961: 26.

24 Various versions of Finley’s assertion appeared in newspapers across the US the next day, with the offer he claimed he would turn down varying from $2 million to $6 million.

25 “It’s Almost Too Much for Lew.”

26 Paul O’Boynick, “Nuxhall Recalls His Bizarre Debut,” Kansas City Star, June 17, 1961: 10.

27 During 1962 spring training, A’s pitching coach Eddie Lopat explained that Krausse was being sent to Binghamton so that he could pitch regularly – which Lopat made clear was not going to happen if the youngster stayed on the club’s major-league roster. Oscar Fraley (Associated Press), “Lopat Sends ‘My Boy Lew,’” Binghamton Press, February 20, 1962: 24.

28 Krausse was a regular member of the A’s staff by 1966. He appeared in 321 major-league games for five organizations, wrapping up his major-league career in 1974 with a 68-91 record and a 4.00 ERA.

Additional Stats

Kansas City Athletics 4
Los Angeles Angels 0

Municipal Stadium
Kansas City, MO


Box Score + PBP:

Corrections? Additions?

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


1960s ·