Around New England

Star Pitcher Was At Wild Party Night Before First Perfect Game … 140 Years Ago Today

June 12, 2020

A Brown University student who pitched the first perfect game in Major League history had partied ‘til 4:30 in the morning the night before and didn’t get to bed until 6:30 a.m. the day of the game.

Lee Richmond, who moonlighted for the professional baseball team in Worcester at the time, then boarded an 11:30 a.m. train in Providence for Worcester, where he pitched nine innings without letting a single batter get to first base, according to columnist Albert B. Southwick of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

The Worcesters, as the National League team was known, won the game that day over Cleveland, 1-0. It occurred Saturday, June 12, 1880 – 140 years ago today.

A plaque on Sever Street in Worcester, near where the old ballfield was, commemorates the feat.

Richmond, who was 23 when he pitched the perfect game, played several years in the National League, and then became a doctor and later a chemistry teacher – and then, at 65, a professor and dean at what is now the University of Toledo. He died in 1929 at age 72.

A lefty, Richmond “pioneered the use of a variety of pitches that included a rising fastball, a drop ball and a change of pace,” according to the Society for American Baseball Research.

“A perfect game is the rarest of single-game pitching feats. Taken in context with the events preceding the game, Richmond’s gem was even more unlikely,” the Society for American Baseball research notes.

The society’s article quotes a Chicago Tribune story from the time of the perfect game saying that the Cleveland batters could not figure out Richmond’s “puzzling curves.”

Richmond always credited his fielders for the perfect game, noting that they made every play – and, in the days before baseball gloves were common, they did it barehanded.



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