Feller's Opening Day feat stands alone
Marcum's bid to match 1940 no-hitter ends in seventh
CHICAGO -- It appears Bob Feller's feat will stand for another year.A 70th year, to be exact. The 91-year-old Feller is still standing, too, and he was in U.S. Cellular Field on Monday afternoon, as his Cleveland Indians fell, 6-0, to the White Sox on Opening Day. But it was an Opening Day performance elsewhere that undoubtedly was brought to Feller's attention at one point or another in the afternoon. Down in Texas, Blue Jays right-hander Shaun Marcum had a no-no going through six innings against the Rangers. Could it be that on the day Feller was invited to the Windy City to celebrate the 70th anniversary of his Opening Day gem against the White Sox -- the only Opening Day no-hitter in history -- someone else would achieve the first-day feat? No such luck. At least not for Marcum. Vladimir Guerrero broke up his bid for history with a one-out single in the seventh. And so, the Feller legend lives on. "It's purely luck," Feller recently said of his April 16, 1940, no-hitter. "Nowadays, if you're pitching a no-hitter after the fifth inning and you have 100 pitches, they'd probably yank you out." The latter point might be an exaggeration, but the former one stands. "I remember one time we were playing in Baltimore," Feller recalled. "Bob Turley was on the mound for the Orioles. He had about 15 or 16 strikeouts. We had no hits, no runs, going into the eighth or ninth inning. Bob Lemon was pitching for us, and the score was 1-0. Al Rosen got a base hit. Then Larry Doby comes up and hits a home run. Turley had a chance to break the record for strikeouts, he had a no-hitter and he had a shutout. In three pitches, it was all over. Boom! Boom! Boom! That's the way the game goes." That's not news to Marcum. He wound up taking a no-decision in the Jays' 5-4 loss to the Rangers. As for Feller, he'll be celebrating the anniversary of one of his Hall of Fame career's more special moments when the Chicago Baseball Museum and the Jerome Holtzman Library hold a luncheon tribute to him Tuesday at Harry Caray's restaurant. There, Feller will no doubt tell the tale of that cold and windy day at Comiskey Park, when he walked five, struck out eight and was unhittable in a 1-0 win. "There's a lot of luck in the game," Feller repeated. "There were a few hard-hit balls. Luke Appling hit one pretty good. In the ninth inning, I walked Appling with two men out. I walked him on purpose, but nobody knew it but me. Taft Wright hit a hard grounder to the right of our first baseman, Hal Trosky, and left of Ray Mack. Mack dove for the ball, knocked it down, picked it up barehanded and threw him out at first base. That was the end of the ballgame." Feller is quick to point out that he did not have better stuff in his Opening Day gem than he did in his two other no-hitters or even some of his 12 one-hitters. Nevertheless, it's a singular achievement that endures, 70 years after that last out. And Feller is still around to tell the tale, down to the last detail. "There may be others [in U.S. Cellular Field] who saw that ballgame," Feller said. "But they won't be very young, I'll tell you that."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.