Claude Hendrix (TRADING CARD DB)

May 15, 1915: Chicago’s Claude Hendrix no-hits the Pittsburgh Rebels

This article was written by Sean Kolodziej

Claude Hendrix (TRADING CARD DB)Years before he would become infamous for inadvertently starting the Black Sox Scandal,1 the Chicago Whales’ Claude Hendrix pitched a dominating no-hitter, defeating the Pittsburgh Rebels, 10-0, on May 15, 1915. It was just the second no-hitter thrown at Pittsburgh’s Exposition Park III, and third no-hitter thrown in the Federal League.

In 1915 right-hander Hendrix was following up arguably the best pitching season in the Federal League’s young history. His eye-popping statistics for the 1914 season helped him lead the league in games (49), complete games (34), wins (29), ERA (1.69), and hits allowed per 9 innings (6.51). The spitballer started the 1915 campaign in a similar fashion. Going into the May 15 game, he sported a 1.87 ERA with 23 strikeouts in six starts.

Coming off a second-place finish in 1914, a game and a half behind the Indianapolis Hoosiers, the Whales were once again expected to challenge for the Federal League pennant. But manager Joe Tinker’s team had played very uneven ball the first month of the season. Having lost seven of their last nine games coming into this two-game series with the first-place Rebels, the Whales needed some kind of spark to get going in the right direction. A convincing 6-0 victory on May 14 helped set up Hendrix’s great performance the next day.

The Pittsburgh Rebels began the 1915 season strong. By May 15 they were 18-9, having won seven of eight and nine of their last 11. Bunny Hearn was their starting pitcher that day. Basically a rookie in 1915, having pitched in only nine games spread throughout three seasons in the National League, Hearn showed a lot of promise at the start of the season; entering the game he was 3-1 with a 1.55 ERA. Little did he or the rest of the Rebels know that they would soon be facing “one of the meanest men that ever wore non-skid baseball shoes.”2

The first inning started off ordinarily enough. After the Whales failed to score in the top half of the inning, left fielder Jim Kelly led off with a walk for the Rebels. Shortstop Marty Berghammer sacrificed Kelly to second. The next two hitters flied out to center fielder Dutch Zwilling, “who made two sensational running catches in deep center.”3

In the top of the third inning, Zwilling walked on four pitches. After left fielder Les Mann reached base by hitting a liner straight back to the pitcher, catcher Art Wilson hit a home run. He “picked out one to his liking and slammed it into deep left field at such terrific speed that it bounced over the fence.”4 It was his second home run of the season.

With two out in the bottom of the fourth inning, first baseman Ed Konetchy drew a walk. Manager-center fielder and team namesake Rebel Oakes then hit a long drive to center field, but Dutch Zwilling made yet another great catch to end the inning.

Having given up no hits through four innings, Hendrix may have already been thinking about a no-hitter. He had pitched two other no-hitters earlier in his career, the first in 1907 while pitching for the Olathe (Kansas) semipro team, against the Kansas City Blues of the American Association, and the second in1910 while playing in the Rocky Mountain League.

The Whales erupted for another three runs in the fifth inning. Les Mann led off with a triple and scored on Art Wilson’s long sacrifice fly to left field. Third baseman Harry Fritz then beat out a slow bunt down the third-base line. The shortstop, Pittsburgh-born Jimmy Smith, singled, sending Fritz to third. That was enough for skipper Rebel Oakes, who pulled Hearn from the mound, replacing him with Elmer Knetzer. After a run-scoring force out by second baseman Jack Farrell and an RBI single by first baseman Fred Beck, the Whales led 6-0.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Rebels catcher Claude Berry walked with two out, but Knetzer struck out to end the inning. Berry would be the last Rebel to reach base that day.

According to the Pittsburgh Press, “[T]he big spitball artist worked with an ease and grace seldom seen in a ball game.”5 This day was similar to a day in June 1914 when “Claude had his saliva dip doing seven kinds of tango steps.”6 It was with this type of pitching performance that Baseball Magazine once said of Hendrix, “his elusive delivery fooled the cleverest batters.”7

The Whales tacked on four more runs the rest of the game — one in the sixth inning on an error by third baseman Jimmie Savage, two more in the seventh on singles by Beck and Hendrix, and the final one in the eighth on Farrell’s single to center field.

The Rebels were having a much harder time hitting the baseball than the Whales. They went three up, three down in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings. The fans, seated in the roofed wooden grandstand around the infield, seemed to notice what was going on, and started “cheering (Hendrix) loudly for a no-hit record.”8

Jim Kelly led off the bottom of the ninth inning and hit an easy fly ball to left field. Steve Yerkes pinch-hit for shortstop Marty Berghammer, who had been injured in the top of the inning when “after Hanford had singled to left, Kelly pegged to the shortstop (and the) ball took an upward bound and hit Marty in the left eye.”9 If there was any question of whether Yerkes would ruin the no-hitter, it was quickly squashed as he popped out to first base.

Third baseman Jimmie Savage was the last hope for the Rebels. “The fans stood up as Savage walked to the plate and begged the little Rebel utilityman to strike out.”10 He hit a long foul to Les Mann, who made a great running catch to end the game.

When Savage was retired, “[H]undreds swamped the field and shook the hand of the young giant (Hendrix) or patted him on the back.”11 Joe Tinker, “who watched the game sitting on the bats in front of the dugout, was one of the first to reach Hendrix and shake his hand.”12

“I got all the breaks and my teammates played great ball behind me,” said Hendrix.13 He was close to perfection that day, walking just three batters. The Whales found success the rest of the 1915 season, finishing in first place with an 88-66 record.

 

Sources

 In addition to the sources mentioned in the Notes, box scores for this game can be seen on baseball-reference.com and retrosheet.org at:

baseball-reference.com/boxes/PTF/PTF191505150.shtml

retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1915/B05150PTF1915.htm

 

Notes

1 While playing for the Chicago Cubs, Hendrix was accused of attempting to throw an August 31, 1920, game he was scheduled to pitch. He was replaced as the starter and the Cubs lost. A grand jury was soon formed to explore not only this game, but gambling in all of baseball. The focus quickly shifted to the 1919 World Series.

2 Florent Gibson, “Hendrix Pitches Hitless Contest Against Pittfeds,” Pittsburgh Daily Post, May 16, 1915: 35.

3 Sam Weller, “No Hits Made Off Hendrix; Beats Rebels,” Chicago Tribune, May 16, 1915: 21.

4 Ibid.

5 Gibson.

6 “Downed in 13 Innings,” Kansas City Times, June 4, 1914: 8.

7 Baseball Magazine, June 1913: 69.

8 Weller.

9 “Claude Hendrix Scores No-Hit-No-Run Victory Over Pittfed Brigade,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 16, 1915: 18.

10 Ibid.

11 Ibid.

12 Ibid.

13 Ibid.

Additional Stats

Chicago Whales 10
Pittsburgh Rebels 0


Exposition Park
Pittsburgh, PA

 

Box Score + PBP:

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