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Feller tosses Opening Day no-no, 76 years ago today

Bob Feller Museum Opening Day no-no display.
Bob Feller Museum Opening Day no-no display.
Hall of Famer Bob Feller threw the only Opening Day no-hitter in baseball history, 76 years ago today.

The 21-year-old Feller used his “heater from Van Meter” fastball on April 16, 1940 to mow down eight White Sox batters as the Cleveland Indians topped Chicago 1-0. Feller’s parents and sister, Marguerite, were among the 14,000 fans at Chicago’s Comiskey Park that afternoon.

“I knew I had a chance for a no-hitter in the ninth,” Feller told the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “but I tried to put the thought out of my mind by reminding myself you never have a no-hitter until the last man is out.”

Feller threw two additional no-hitters, tying Larry Corcoran and Cy Young for a major league record that would later be broken by Sandy Koufax and Nolan Ryan:

2 Bob Feller
  Cleveland Indians (AL)
  Tuesday, April 30, 1946
Cleveland Indians 1, New York Yankees 0
Yankee Stadium (New York)
3 Bob Feller
  Cleveland Indians (AL)
  Sunday, July 1, 1951 (First game of doubleheader)
Cleveland Indians 2, Detroit Tigers 1
Cleveland Stadium (Cleveland)
Bob Feller's No 19 jersey
The Cleveland Indians in 1957 retired the number 19 to honor Bob Feller, who pitched three no-hitters.
Feller nearly had some company on April 16, 1940. With all 16 teams in action, Boston Red Sox southpaw Lefty Grove took a no-hitter into the eighth inning before it was broken up with a single by the Washington Senators’ Cecil Travis. Grove retired the game’s first 21 batters but lost the perfecto on an eighth-inning error. He settled for a two-hit 1-0 complete-game shutout.

Asked by an AP reporter if he was disappointed by Travis’ single, Grove said, “No. No-hitters are bad luck.”

Two other no-hitters were thrown on the date of April 16:

1 Burt Hooton
  Chicago Cubs (NL)
  Sunday, April 16, 1972
Chicago Cubs 4, Philadelphia Phillies 0
Wrigley Field (Chicago)
2 Bob Forsch
  St. Louis Cardinals (NL)
  Sunday, April 16, 1978
St. Louis Cardinals 5, Philadelphia Phillies 0
Busch Stadium (St. Louis)
(His first of two no-hitters)