Sunday, May 24, 2009


May 26, 1959 -- The Pirates' Harvey Haddix pitches a perfect game thru 12 innings and loses 1-0 in 13.

The Pirates were retired in the top of the 13th by Lew Burdette — who, like Haddix, had started the game and was still pitching.

Felix Mantilla, who was to record a lifetime batting average of .261, led off the bottom of the Braves' 13th. He hit a grounder to Don Hoak at third. Hoak appeared to take his time gripping the ball, got it right, but his throw to first baseman Rocky Nelson — who regularly fielded better than .990 — was on a bounce. Nelson could not dig it out. Hoak was given an error. The perfect game was over, but not the no-hitter.

With Mantilla at first, the Braves’ great home run hitter Eddie Mathews was up. He did something he was to do only two more times that season — hit a sacrifice bunt. It was successful, and Mantilla moved to second. Now Haddix was facing Hank Aaron, who was leading the major leagues in batting. Of course, Aaron was intentionally walked.

Then big Joe Adcock was up. He was a home run hitter who once had smacked four in a game against my Dodgers at Ebbets Field. This time, he stroked a low liner that went over the head of right fielder Roman Mejias, toward the fence about 330 feet from home.

From Aaron’s vantage point, it did not seem to clear the fence. Aaron
took off for second, saw Mantilla racing home, and Aaron thought that was the ballgame. So he touched second, then cut across the infield for the dugout. He believed the ball had landed inside the stadium and that the game was over. But the ball had cleared the fence.

Adcock continued running, though, and rounded the bases. He touched home and the plate umpire Vinnie Smith declared the game over.

But not so fast. There was some confusion. The Braves thought it was a 3-0 game, but Adcock had passed Aaron on the bases. That made Adcock out. That night, the National League president, Warren Giles, ruled that the game was actually a 1-0 affair, that Adcock’s hit was a double. And for Haddix, officially it was never ruled a no-hitter, nor a perfect game, even though it went beyond nine innings.

Haddix went on to win Game 7 of the 1960 World Series over the Yankees but nobody remembers that.

LINKS to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette archives here.

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