Red Faber (Trading Card DB)

May 12, 1915: Red Faber’s reported 67-pitch complete game beats Washington

This article was written by Kurt Blumenau

Red Faber (Trading Card DB)Urban “Red” Faber’s Hall of Fame pitching career took off in 1915. After posting a 10-9 record as a rookie the previous season, the Chicago White Sox spitballer went 24-14 with a 2.55 ERA in 1915, tying for second place in the American League in wins and ranking first in games pitched with 50.1 He went on to win 254 games over a 20-season big-league career, as well as three World Series games for the 1917 champion White Sox.2

Chicago’s game against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday, May 12, added to the growing body of proof that the 26-year-old pitcher had arrived. He scattered three hits, one walk, and an unearned run in a handy 4-1 win. Reportedly, it took him just 67 pitches – 50 strikes and 17 balls – to accomplish the feat.3 It was his sixth start of the season, and all six were complete-game performances, with five resulting in wins.4

The spring and early summer of 1915 were halcyon times for Chicago baseball fans, as the city had three major-league teams in the running for pennants. At the start of play on May 12, the National League Cubs held second place, a half-game behind the first-place Philadelphia Phillies. The Federal League’s Whales were tied for second with the Newark Peppers, both 2½ games behind the Pittsburgh Rebels.

The White Sox, under rookie manager Pants Rowland, held third place in the AL, trailing the second-place New York Yankees by percentage points and the first-place Detroit Tigers by 3½ games.5 The Washington Times credited Rowland for keeping his team on their toes and alert to opposing teams’ lapses, and quoted positive comments from players Eddie Collins and Shano Collins. “‘Pants’ Rowland, the new manager of the White Sox, is close to being the most popular leader the South Siders ever had,” the Times reported. “Not only have the fans taken to him, but the players are spreading good reports of his methods.”6

Clark Griffith’s Nationals, coming off a third-place finish and an 81-73 record in 1914, entered the day in sixth place with a 10-11 record, six games back. The Nationals had won the first of their three-game series against the White Sox the previous day, 2-0, on a four-hit shutout by Jim Shaw, but they were just 4-6 in their previous 10 games and headed to a 7-13 record for the month of May. One Washington newspaper blasted them as “hitless wonders” for their lack of offense in key situations.7 It was also reported that Shaw had gotten sick as a result of poor-quality water provided to Nationals players in their dugout, which drew loud complaints from Griffith and a promise of improvement from White Sox owner Charles Comiskey.8

Faber brought a 6-2 record and a 1.82 ERA into the game. Opposing him was right-hander Bert Gallia, 23 years old and in his fourth major-league season. Gallia entered with a 3-2 record and a 1.24 ERA in five appearances, including four starts. The winner of one major-league game coming into the 1915 season, Gallia went 17-11 with a 2.29 ERA in 43 appearances for the Nationals, including 29 starts.

With 7,500 fans on hand,9 the White Sox handed Faber a quick lead following a routine top half of the first inning. Gallia retired the first two Chicago batters, then surrendered a single to Eddie Collins, playing his first season with the White Sox after nine with the Philadelphia Athletics. Jack Fournier lifted a fly to the outfield that right fielder Danny Moeller, center fielder Clyde Milan, and second baseman Ray Morgan all pursued. The play eventually came to Moeller, who dropped the ball, and Eddie Collins – running before contact – came around to score for a 1-0 White Sox lead.10 Shano Collins added an infield single to shortstop, but Fournier was thrown out at the plate trying to add to the lead.

The Nationals threatened in the second, as leadoff hitter Milan reached second base on an error by first baseman Bunny Brief. Two outs later, John Henry hit a scorcher to shortstop, where Buck Weaver managed to knock it down but made no play. Milan advanced to third. (News accounts credited Weaver for a smart play, noting that Milan would have scored if the ball had gotten through to the outfield.11) George McBride grounded to Brief, who this time made the play himself to end the frame. During the inning, Nationals first baseman Chick Gandil – later a member of Chicago’s 1919 Black Sox – was ejected by home-plate umpire Ollie Chill for arguing a called third strike. Rip Williams replaced Gandil.

After Faber grounded out to start the third, his teammates gave him two more runs. Happy Felsch and Braggo Roth hit back-to-back singles – the latter of which bounced off Gallia’s shin12 – to put runners on first and second. One out later, Fournier’s single to center drove in Felsch. Gallia wild-pitched the White Sox runners to third and second base, and Shano Collins walked to load the sacks. Weaver grounded to Morgan, who muffed it, and Roth scored to increase the White Sox’ advantage to 3-0.

Starting with McBride’s grounder to end the second, Faber retired 17 straight Nationals hitters. The Chicago Tribune reported that “speed, a curve ball, and almost perfect control” gave Faber mastery over Washington’s hitters. “There wasn’t any use in the enemy waiting for bases on balls, because he wouldn’t allow them,” sportswriter James Crusinberry summarized. “The Senators13 saw the uselessness of waiting and often it was the first ball they hit at. Seldom did any one clout it hard enough to get the ball past the infield.”14

During these fallow innings, the Nationals lost two more starters. Catcher Henry, one of the few Washington batters to hit the ball to the outfield, fell in the fifth inning while running out his fly ball and spiked himself. The wound required four stitches to close, and Eddie Ainsmith replaced Henry behind the plate.15 Gallia, meanwhile, was limping after the game as a result of taking Roth’s third-inning hit off his leg.16 Cuban-born outfielder Merito Acosta, a week shy of his 19th birthday, hit for him to start the sixth, grounding back to the mound.

The White Sox added another run in the sixth off Gallia’s replacement, Joe Engel, who was pitching for the second time that season. With one out, Weaver singled to center and went all the way to third on a wild pitch. After a walk to Brief, catcher Tom Daly singled to left field to score Weaver and bring the lead to 4-0. Also of note in the sixth inning, Boston-bred Tom Connolly, formerly of Georgetown University, made his big-league debut for Washington, coming in to replace left fielder Howard Shanks. Connolly hit .184 in 50 games in his only major-league season.

Ainsmith broke Faber’s streak of 17 straight outs by drawing Washington’s only walk with one out in the eighth. The Nationals could not take advantage of this rare largesse.

Washington entered the ninth having collected only one hit off Faber – Henry’s hard shot to Weaver in the second inning. Faber retired the first two batters but ran into trouble one out from victory. Connolly singled in his second major-league at-bat. A passed ball by Daly allowed him to take second, and Milan’s double to left field scored him to spoil Faber’s shutout. Faber then retired Williams on a line drive to center field to wrap up the 4-1 victory in 1 hour and 35 minutes. The visitors “never had a chance, not a measly, little, teeny-weeny one,” the Washington Times summarized.17

The next day’s Chicago Tribune reported that the paper had received a telegram from Frank Saffell, a boy in Washington, D.C., responsible for operating an electric scoreboard that recorded each pitch.18 Saffell told the Tribune he’d kept track of Faber’s 67-pitch performance, which, by the boy’s telling, beat by five pitches a previous record set by Christy Mathewson. Saffell also furnished an inning-by-inning count that reported that, in the third and fifth innings, Faber had retired the side on just three pitches.19

Although young Saffell hadn’t been at the park to watch, his claim aligned with sportswriters’ reports that Faber had efficiently stifled the Nationals’ offense. Saffell’s report passed quickly into lore; by mid-June it had been picked up by Sporting Life and newspapers in Atlanta and Fort Worth, Texas.20 Faber was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1964, and as of 2024, the story of the 67-pitch complete game is included in the testimonial to Faber’s greatness on the Hall of Fame’s website.21

As of April 2024, the lowest known pitch count for a nine-inning game tracked and recorded on Baseball-Reference was 75, achieved by Bob Tewksbury in 1990 and Andy Ashby in 1998.22 Also, while pitch counts were not officially kept in 1944, the Boston Braves’ Red Barrett is widely and credibly attributed with a 58-pitch complete-game win on August 10 of that season – thanks to official scorer Frank Grayson of the Cincinnati Times-Star newspaper, who tracked Barrett’s pitches.


Acknowledgments and author’s note

This story was fact-checked by Laura Peebles and copy-edited by Len Levin. It is part of a project by the author to write stories on all eight American, National, and Federal League games played on May 12, 1915.

According to records accessed through, Frank P. Saffell Jr. was 12 years old in May 1915. As an adult, he worked for the US government. He died in Arlington, Virginia, aged 69, in October 1971.23

Photo credit: Red Faber, Trading Card Database.



In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author used the and websites for general player, team and season data and the box scores for this game. Also, Brian Cooper’s SABR Biography Project biography of Red Faber was a primary source for this article. The author thanks John Fredland for research assistance regarding the lowest pitch count for a nine-inning game recorded on Baseball-Reference, and Laura Peebles for bringing Red Barrett’s 1944 game to his attention.



1 Washington’s Walter Johnson led the AL with 27 wins. In a three-way tie for second with 24 were Faber, Hooks Dauss of Detroit, and Faber’s White Sox teammate Jim Scott.

2 Troubled by injuries in 1919, Faber did not participate in that year’s World Series. He was not a party to the Black Sox Scandal in which some of his teammates colluded with gamblers to throw the Series to the Cincinnati Reds.

3 “Faber Pitches 67 Times During the Entire Contest,” Chicago Tribune, May 13, 1915: 10. This article appears to be the source for another frequently cited story: “Claims a Pitching Record,” Sporting Life, May 22, 1915: 8.

4 Faber had also made four relief appearances. His only loss in a start that season had come against the Detroit Tigers on April 19, when he gave up 10 hits and six runs (four earned) in a 6-1 defeat.

5 All three Chicago teams held first place as late as July 17, after which they slumped. For a fuller accounting of the summer of 1915, see Mark S. Sternman, “The Last Best Day: When Chicago Had Three First-Place Teams,” The National Pastime: Baseball in Chicago (Phoenix, SABR: 2015).

6 Louis A. Dougher, “Jack Bentley Aspires to Become Outfielder,” Washington Times, May 13, 1915: 12.

7 William Peet, “Nationals Again Fail to Hit Ball,” Washington Herald, May 13, 1915: 8. Over the full season, the 1915 Nationals hit .244 as a team, only four points below the league average.

8 Dougher.

9 As of February 2024, the Retrosheet and Baseball-Reference box scores for this game did not list an attendance figure, and neither did the box scores and game articles in several newspapers. The figure of 7,500 appears in the box score printed on page 8 of the May 13, 1915, Washington Herald.

10 Stanley T. Milliken, “Faber Effective Against Griffmen,” Washington Post, May 13, 1915: 8; James Crusinberry, “Faber Checks Senators While White Sox Win, 4-1,” Chicago Tribune, May 13, 1915: 10.

11 Peet, “Nationals Again Fail to Hit Ball.”

12 Crusinberry, “Faber Checks Senators While White Sox Win, 4-1.”

13 Game coverage in the Washington papers referred to the team as the Nationals, and that nickname is used in this story.

14 Crusinberry.

15 “Big Receiver Injured” (photo and caption), Washington Herald, May 13, 1915: 8; “Nationals Are Crippled as a Result of Contest,” Washington Post, May 13, 1915: 8. As of March 2024, Retrosheet’s play-by-play said Henry wrenched his ankle, but game stories blame a self-inflicted spike wound for his departure.

16 “Nationals Are Crippled as a Result of Contest.”

17 “Failure to Bat the Ball Again Stops Nationals,” Washington Times, May 13, 1915: 12.

18 Saffell’s father, also named Frank, was for many years the head telegraph operator at Washington’s Griffith Stadium and an expert on sports statistics, which might be where his son got his apparent keen interest in the subject. “Frank Saffell, Veteran Sport Wireman, Has Sent His Last Story,” Washington Evening Star, December 3, 1929: 35.

19 “Faber Pitches 67 Times During the Entire Contest.”

20 “Faber Great Factor in Speedy Race of White Sox,” Atlanta Journal, June 6, 1915: 3; “Speedy Quartet Keeps White Sox in Lead,” Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram, June 12, 1915: 3.

21 “Red Faber,” National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum website, accessed February 2024,

22 Tewksbury threw a 75-pitch nine-inning complete game for the St. Louis Cardinals against the Cincinnati Reds on August 29, 1990, winning 9-1. Ashby threw his 75-pitch gem for the San Diego Padres against the Colorado Rockies on July 5, 1998, winning 7-2.

23 Virginia death certificate for Frank P. Saffell Jr., accessed through in February 2024,

Additional Stats

Chicago White Sox 4
Washington Nationals 1

Comiskey Park
Chicago, IL


Box Score + PBP:

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1910s ·