by Joe Dittmar
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PITCHER THROWS 58 PITCHES IN NINE-INNING SHUTOUT; TEAMS COMPLETE NIGHT GAME IN 1 HOUR, 15 MINUTES
Boston Braves (2) at Cincinnati Reds (0)
Thursday Night, August 10, 1944, Crosley Field
Charles “Red” Barrett was a red-headed, right-handed hurler toiling in just his second full major-league season. An eccentric personality with average pitching talent, Red excelled in the arena of building team morale with his constant clowning and joking. The Cincinnati Reds didn’t find him too funny this day, however, when Barrett threw only 58 pitches over nine innings for a shutout victory. As far as baseball historians know, this is the fewest number of pitches ever thrown in a nine-inning game. Throughout the contest, Barrett didn’t fall behind in the count to a single batter, surrendered just two singles, and neither walked nor struck out anyone. When the game was completed in only one hour and fifteen minutes, it also established the still-standing mark as the fastest night game in major league history.
A Reds castoff, Barrett out-pitched his more publicized opponent, Bucky Walters. Only two Cincinnati players reached first safely-Gee Walker singled with two out in the first, and Eddie Miller singled to lead off the sixth. Miller was the only Red who got as far as second. Barrett induced 13 ground outs, five fly balls, three pop-ups in fair territory, four foul outs, and two line-drive outs.
The Boston victory resulted from two tainted runs. Butch Nieman opened the second frame with sharp grounder that scooted through Woody Williams’ legs. Frank Grayson, official scorer this night, charitably accorded a single on the play. Two infield outs moved Butch to third from whence he scored on a Damon Phillips single. Boston scored their second run when, with one out in the fifth, Phillips doubled over center fielder Gee Walker’s head. Whitey Wietelmann then lifted a high fly to deep right field which dropped for a three-base error, as Cincinnati’s Tony Criscola tripped and fell while ascending the outfield terrace.
In recent years, Barrett’s performance was clouded in mystery. His 58-pitch legacy had been passed down through the record books, but its source documentation became lost, leading some historians to question its plausibility. During research for this chapter, the evidence was re-discovered. In his column the day after the contest, Cincinnati Times-Star reporter Frank Grayson wrote: “[Barrett] pitched just 58 balls in the course of the game.” Making the claim all the more believable is the fact that Grayson also served as the official scorer that night.
Barrett’s teammate, Damon Phillips, remembered him as the fastest working pitcher he ever played behind. In a letter written to the author, Phillips related that the less time Red spent between pitches, the better he pitched: “The catcher knew that when he returned a pitch to Red that he wanted a sign for the next pitch as soon as the ball reached Red’s glove. As an infielder it was great to play behind him because there was no wasted time and the fielders had to stay ready for action. He had pin-point control and could throw strikes with consistency.”
Barrett broke into the majors with Cincinnati before joining the Braves in 1943. Then, on May 23, 1945, Red was shipped to the Cardinals where for one partial season he enjoyed brilliant success, recording 21 wins against only 9 losses. Combining his efforts in both Boston and St. Louis, Red led the league in wins (23), complete games (24), and innings pitched (285). After that, he returned to mediocrity and finished his career back in Boston with a 69-69 lifetime log.
From Baseball Records Registry by Joseph J. Dittmar.
Copyright © 1997 by Joseph J. Dittmar. Reprinted with permission.