More Than You Ever Wanted To Know About 1-0 Games

From SABR member Tom Ruane at Retrosheet on September 15, 2011:

Joe Posnanski recently wrote a column about 1-0 games. Now there probably isn’t a better sports columnist/blogger/whatever than Joe working today, but something (perhaps a sense of restraint) caused him to restrict his study to the last fifty years and complete games. Well, restraint has never been my strong suit, so I decided to look at 93 years (1918-2010) of all 1-0 games. Of course, even with this expanded range, we are still missing most of the Deadball Era, which was the mother-lode of 1-0 games. Still, hopefully some of what I found will be of interest.

Let’s start with a list of the players with the most 1-0 games pitched.


I have eliminated the runs allowed column above, since in 1-0 games runs allowed are almost always equal to games lost. I say “almost” because of the game between the Yankees and White Sox on June 20, 1940. The game was apparently won by Chicago on a run-scoring double by Bob Kennedy with one out in the bottom of the eleventh. The Yankees, however, protested a ruling earlier in the game on a disputed catch, and less than two weeks later, the protest was upheld and the game declared a no-decision. The statistics for the game, except for Johnny Rigney’s win and Monte Pearson’s loss, counted. And that’s how Pearson gave up a run in a 1-0 game with no defeat to show for it.

It’s not too surprising that a reliever pitched in the most 1-0 games given the lack of complete games in the last couple of decades, but I didn’t expect it to be one who pitched back in the days when men were men and pitchers liked to finish what they started. Wilhelm did start one of these games and it was the best one of his career, a no-hit win over Don Larsen and the Yankees.

Nolan Ryan made the most 1-0 starts during these years, completing 14 of 30 games, setting highs in walks and strikeouts along the way. Blyleven completed 24 of his 26 starts and allowed the most hits.

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Originally published: September 15, 2011. Last Updated: September 15, 2011.