Nothing to Nothing in Overtime

This article was written by James Watkins

This article was published in the 1976 Baseball Research Journal


Some of the great pitching duels in baseball history have received little publicity because more than 30 extra-inning contests ended in 0-0 ties. Extra-inning tie games are rare these days since most games now can be suspended and finished at a future date, but in the old days natural elements usually put an end to them.

Ironically, the longest scoreless game in major league history was played in one of the better hitting parks-Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, on September 11, 1946-a 19-inning tie between the Dodgers and the Reds. Johnny Vander Meer, who had pitched the second of his two successive no-hitters in 1938 at Ebbets Field, hurled the first 15 innings for Cincinnati, fanning 14. The Reds almost broke the tie in the top half of the 19th inning. With one out and Dam Clay on second base, Bert Haas lined a single to right but Dixie Walker nailed Clay at the plate.

The longest scoreless game in the American League took place at Detroit on July 16, 1909. The Tigers and Senators battled 18 innings before darkness set in. Ed Summers went all the way for Detroit, giving up only seven hits. Dolly Gray and Bob Groom divided the pitching chores for Washington, giving up only six hits between them. Gray was in superb form in his starting effort. He gave up only one hit in eight innings, a single to Matty McIntyre, the first batter to face him in the game. He had to leave the game after straining his side in the ninth inning after pitching three balls to McIntyre, the first batter of the frame. Groom took over and gave up only five hits in his 10 innings. He got out of a bases full, none out situation in the 1 5th inning. With the bags loaded, he had to face Donie Bush, Sam Crawford and Ty Cobb. But he was equal to the occasion. Bush popped out to third baseman Bob Kelly. Crawford topped the ball toward first base. Wade Killifer, a pinch-runner for Oscar Stanage, dug for home. Groom pounced on the ball and threw home to Gabby Street. The play was very close; in fact, Street seemed to think the throw was too late and started for the bench. The Washington infielders also began to come in while the Detroit runners moved toward the clubhouse. But umpire John Kerin had called the runner out and called all the players back. Cobb ended the suspense by striking out. Gray and Groom were particularly rough on the two top Detroit hitters-Cobb and Crawford-who each went 0 for 7.

Another 18-inning scoreless tie took place at Shea Stadium on Saturday, October 2, 1965, in the second game of a twi-night double-header between the Mets and Phillies. The game had to be halted on account of a 12:50 a.m. curfew. Chris Short, Phil southpaw, fanned 18 in his 1 5 innings of work. It was a frustrating night for the Mets. They were blanked 6-0 by Jim Bunning in the first game.

Ernie Koob, St. Louis Browns’ southpaw, pitched all the way in a 1 7-inning scoreless game with the Red Sox at Fenway Park, Boston, on July 14, 1916. Carl Mays pitched the first 15 innings for the Red Sox and Hub Leonard the last two. Poor base-running by Koob kept him from winning the game in the 15th inning. Koob, recipient of a base on balls, advanced to second base with two out in the 15th inning. Ward Miller singled to left field and Koob came home but he was called out for failing to touch third base.

Jack Coombs of the Athletics and Ed Walsh of the White Sox had a spectacular 16-inning scoreless duel at Chicago on August 4, 1910. Coombs gave up only three hits and fanned 18, while Walsh allowed six singles and struck out 10. Coombs had nine consecutive hitless innings in the game. Pat Dougherty doubled in the second inning and that was the only hit off Coombs until the 12th chapter when rookie Paul Meloan and Dougherty chipped in with singles. Coombs wound up his work in whirlwind fashion, fanning Charley Mullen, Billy Sullivan and Walsh in a row in the 16th frame.

*Assisted by Al Kermisch

Although it went only 14 innings, the scoreless tie between the Indians and Tigers at Cleveland on August 11, 1942, deserves special mention. It was the first game of a twi-nighter, but in those early years of night baseball the rules did not allow day games to be finished under lights. So the game was called on account of darkness at the end of 14 innings, but a few minutes later the lights were turned on and Dizzy Trout and Mel Harder came out to warm up for the second game. But that peculiarity deprived the fans of seeing a conclusion to an extraordinary pitching duel between Al Milnar and Tommy Bridges. Milnar was magnificent. He gave up only two hits and held the Tigers hitless until two out in the ninth inning when Roger Cramer singled to right. The other hit came with one out in the 13th inning, a single to left field by Rudy York.

Walter Johnson turned in a scintillating performance in a 12-inning scoreless battle with Jack Quinn of the Yankees at the Polo Grounds, New York, on May 11, 1919. It was the first legalized Sunday game for the Yankees in New York. It was a raw day and only 3,000 fans braved the elements. But they were rewarded with a first-class hurling duel.

The gloomy day was made to order for Johnson’s fast ball. He was almost invincible and at one time retired 28 batters in a row. Roger Peckinpaugh, the second man to bat in the first inning, singled and not another Yankee reached first base until Frank Baker walked with two down in the tenth inning. Derrill Pratt got the other Yankee hit to open the 11th inning.

George Halas, the fabled owner of the football Chicago Bears, then a rookie outfielder for the Yankees, played the entire game. He was 0 for 5 against Johnson, fanning twice. The game was called a few minutes before 6 o’clock under the assumption that the game had to be called because of the new Sunday law. But after the game the veteran umpire Bill Dinneen admitted that he made a mistake in calling the game. He had acted on the advice of President Jake Ruppert of the Yankees that the Sunday law required the game to end at 6 o’clock.

The information, however, proved to be erroneous. The Sunday law stipulated that games had to be played after 2 o’clock with no provision as to what time they should end.

 

SCORELESS TIES OF 10 OR MORE INNINGS, 1901-75

National League 

Date

Home Team & Hurler

Visiting Team & Hurler

Inns.

5/1/1902

Chi.

Luther Taylor

Cin.

Noodles Hahn

12

9/11/1906

Pitt.

D. Phillippe 10

Cin.

Bob Ewing

15

 

 

Victor Willis 5

 

 

 

9/19/1907 +

Phil.

Lew Richie

Chi.

Ed Reulbach

10

9/02/1908+

N.Y.

Leon Ames

Bkn.

George Bell

13

4/25/1913

N.Y.

Al Demaree 10

Phil.

Gr. Alexander

11

 

 

Doc Crandall 1

 

 

 

9/5/1913 +

Bos.

Dick Rudolph

Phil.

Gr. Alexander

10

8/11/1914

Bos.

George Tyler

Cin.

Leon Ames

13

7/7/1915 +

Bkn.

Phil Douglas

Bos.

William James 5

16

 

 

 

 

George Davis 11

 

6/13/1916

Bos.

Dick Rudolph 12

Cin.

Fred Toney 11

16

 

 

Tom Hughes 4

 

Pete Schneider 5

 

9/4/1917

Bkn.

Ed Pfeffer

Phil.

Joe Oeschger

14

9/22/1917

St.L.

Lee Meadows

Bos.

Arthur Nehf

14

9/11/1946

Bkn.

Hal Gregg 10

Cin.

J. VanderMeer 15

19

 

 

Hugh Casey 5

 

Harry Gumbert 4

 

 

 

Art Herring 3

 

 

 

 

 

Hank Behrman 1

 

 

 

7/31/1955+

Mil.

Max Surkont

Phil.

Robert Miller

10

10/2/1965+

N.Y.

Dick Gardner 15

Phil.

Chris Short 15

18

 

 

D. Sutherland 2

 

Gary Wagner 2

 

 

 

Dennis Ribant 1

 

Jack Baldschun 1

 

#First game; +second game

 

American League

5/21/1904

Wash.

Jack Townsend

Det.

George Mullin

11

7/22/1904

Wash.

Case Patten

Det.

Ed Killian

13

9/27/1904 +

StL.

Willie Sudhoff

Phil.

Chief Bender

10

5/13/1905

Chi.

Frank Smith

N.Y.

BillHogg

11

9/13/1906

Chi.

Frank Owen

StL.

Barney Pelty

10

7/19/1907

Cle.

Glenn Liebhardt

Wash.

Charles Smith

12

9/9/1907

Bos.

Cy Young

Phil.

Rube Waddell

13

7/16/1909

Det.

Oren Summers

Wash.

Dolly Gray 8.1

18

 

 

 

 

Robert Groom 9.2

 

8/4/1910

Chi.

Ed Walsh

Phil.

Jack Coombs

16

9/21/1910

Cle.

Harry Fanwell

Phil.

Jack Coombs

11

4/20/1912

StL.

G. Baumgardner

Chi.

James Scott

15

7/14/1916

Bos.

Carl Mays 15

StL.

Ernie Koob

17

 

 

Hub Leonard 2

 

 

 

5/11/1919

N.Y.

Jack Quinn

Wash.

Walter Johnson

12

8/16/1926

Chi.

Ted Lyons

Det.

Sam Gibson

10

9/8/1929 +

Bos.

Milt Gaston

StL.

Geo. Blaeholder

10

8/11/1942 #

Cle.

Al Milnar

Det.

Tommy Bridges

14

6/3/1945 +

Phil.

Bobo Newsom 7

StL.

Tex Shirley

13

 

 

Joe Berry 2.1

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Gerkin 3.2

 

 

 

5/9/1954 +

Chi.

Billy Pierce

Det.

Billy Hoeft

10

#First game; +second game

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