Only once in baseball history has a team finished a game with the same batting average with which they started.
It happened 80 years ago when 21-year-old Bob Feller threw what remains the first Opening Day no-hitter in baseball history. The Chicago White Sox all started the game with batting averages of .000. When Feller was through working his magic, their average remained the same.
Now, a previously unknown original image from that cold afternoon is making its way to the auction block for the first time.
The 8×10 photo is among the top items in RMY Auctions’ May Mega Collectors catalog. Original images from the first of Feller’s three career no-hitters are rare and it’s the first action photo from the game ever handled by RMY.
The photo carries the hand-written original date as well as the newspaper file stamp on the back and a simple notation written in grease pencil, “Bob Feller, in no-hit game.”
Feller wasn’t perfect on a cold, windy day at Comiskey Park that drew fewer than 14,000 fans to the first game of the season. He walked five but struck out eight as his parents and sister—visiting from Iowa– watched from the stands.
As the game went into the later innings, a tense, superstitious quiet fell over the Cleveland dugout. In the ninth inning, Feller gave in and let Luke Appling reach first with his last base on balls but then got Taffy Wright to hit a grounder to the hole between first and second. Ray Mack, who made what was described as an excellent play, threw to Hal Trosky at first for the final out.
“He was one of the good hitters in the league and one I had trouble with from time to time because he was such a good contact hitter,” Feller said later. “I don’t know how (Mack) ever knocked down Wright’s smash in the ninth, to say nothing of retrieving the ball and throwing the guy out.”
Feller would soon be off to war, but returned to toss two more no-hitters and cement his place as one of the game’s all-time great pitchers.
The photo is one of more than 1,000 in the auction, which continues through Saturday, May 9 at RMYAuctions.com.