Bob Feller Has MLB’s Only Opening Day No-Hitter
On April 16, 1940, Bob Feller threw the first no-hitter of his career as the Cleveland Indians defeated the Chicago White Sox 1-0. It was the first no-hitter on Opening Day in modern baseball history and remains the only Opening Day no-hitter to this day.
Robin Roberts of the Philadelphia Phillies came close on Opening Day in 1955. On April 13, 1955 he carried a no hitter one-out into the ninth inning before Alvin Dark delivered a single to keep Feller in the history book.
On Opening Day of 1994, the Cleveland Indians were opening their new park (Jacobs Field) against Randy Johnson and the Seattle Mariners. With Feller in attendance, Johnson worked the first seven innings before allowing a single to Sandy Alomar Jr.
This year marks the 77th anniversary of Feller’s Opening Day no-hitter and one has to wonder if we will ever see another.
Data Trending Toward No:
Not because the pitchers aren’t talented enough to accomplish the feat, but the question has to be asked as if a manager would allow a pitcher to complete the game?
The term “up-and-down” is used often in spring training and during rehab appearances when a player is returning from injury. It refers to the number of times a pitcher works and inning, sits down, and comes back to work another.
Most pitchers are held to around 75 pitches in spring and only 5-6 up-and-downs. So, how prepared would a pitcher be during their first start of the year? Can he keep his pitch count in order (probably around 110 at most)? Will the manager allow him to complete the requisite up-and-down’s?
Today, the number of pitchers that would be allowed to venture their way through a no-hit attempt are few and far between. Some day, some pitcher is going to be cruising along and the decision is going to have to be made. It would be more surprising if the pitcher was allowed to stay in than if he were taken out.
The trend, like through much of baseball’s regular season, is to limit pitchers. The limits come in the form of pitch count, times through the order, or innings (up-and-downs). This can be seen in the raw data through the last several decades.
Pitch count data is not available for all the games in the 1980’s. There were a total of 30 complete games logged on Opening Day.
In the 1990’s, 37 pitchers made at least 110 pitches on Opening Day. A total of 13 pitchers threw complete games.
In the 2000’s only 27 pitchers made at least 110 pitches on Opening Day. Only seven pitchers finished what they started.
From 2010 through 2016 the numbers fell even further. Just three pitchers have made at least 110 pitches. There has been only two complete games.