Feller Opened 1940 Season with No-Hitter

Bob Feller was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

Bob Feller was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

Opening Day always brings feelings of hope and optimism among baseball fans.

On the down side, nothing can be worse than watching your favorite team lose without getting a hit on the first day of the season.

That’s what happened to the Chicago White Sox faithful on April 16, 1940.

Hall-of-Fame legend Bob Feller tossed a no-hitter for the Cleveland Indians that afternoon. The Indians won 1-0 over the White Sox at Comiskey Park in what is the only no-hitter ever thrown on Opening Day.

Feller struck out eight and walked five in blanking the Chicago line-up. White Sox starter Eddie Smith was pretty good as well giving up just the one run on six hits in eight innings.

Smith’s only blemish was in the fourth inning. He gave up a single to Jeff Heath and then one out later Rollie Hemsley blasted a triple to knock in the only run of the game.

The 21-year old Feller would go on to post a 27-11 record in 1940, which was the most wins in a season during his career. Feller played 18 seasons (1936-41, 1945-56) for the Indians on his way to the Hall of Fame in 1962. He had a career mark of 266-162 with 2,581 strikeouts.

Feller tossed three no-hitters in his career, while setting a standard with a dozen one-hitters, which was eventually tied by another well-known Hall-of-Fame pitcher in Nolan Ryan.

Hemsley, who was behind the plate for Feller’s gem, played 19 big league seasons from 1928-47. In addition to the Indians, the five-time all-star was a member of the St. Louis Browns, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies.

Smith pitched for 10 seasons in the majors with a 73-113 record for the White Sox, Philadelphia Athletics and the Box Red Sox. In 1940, the two-time all-star had a career-high 14 wins with nine losses.

Cleveland finished the 1940 season at 89-65 and just one game behind the American League champion Detroit Tigers (90-64), who eventually lost to the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series.

The White Sox ended the year at 82-72 and in the tie for fourth with the Red Sox.

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