In one of baseball’s truly dramatic moments, Mel Parnell yesterday became the first Red Sox pitcher since 1923 to pitch a no-hit, no-run game when he stopped the White Sox, 4-0, at Fenway Park.
And the no-hitter didn’t mean a thing to the veteran left-hander.
“I didn’t give a damn about a no-hitter,” said Parnell. “All I wanted to do was win the game.”
Then it seemed to hit him. He wiped the perspiration from his face and suddenly realized what had happened.
Reporters and radio men by the droves descended on him. The phone began to ring with offers from TV studios for special appearances.
Then owner Tom Yawkey and general manager Joe Cronin walked into the clubhouse.
Yawkey then informed Parnell that he is being given $500 extra for pitching this brilliant, drama-filled no-hitter – the first in the American League this season.
Parnell’s face fell in astonishment.
The the Red Sox brass informed Mel that he would sign a new contract to cover the bonus. It is against league rules to hand out bonuses as such.
This was a day Parnell would never forget.
This was the answer to all those dreary days of the past three years when the top flight left-hander ran into more trouble than any ordinary guy had in a lifetime.
This was a day when the catcalls were absent.
July 14, 1956 provided nothing but a tremendous ovation for Parnell.
Amazing was this performance in a ball park so small that one little mistake meant any immediate wrecking of dreams.
The old question, “When did you know it was a no-hitter?” was asked.
“I knew it all the way. You’ve gotta know things like that. But, honestly, I didn’t worry about the no-hitter. I wanted the win.”
“It’s a thrill, believe me,” Parnell said, “now that it is all over.”
‘Cheers felt good’
“That makes up for a lot of those days the past few years when things didn’t go so good. Boy, it felt good to hear those people cheering me.”
“Really though,” he continued, “I wasn’t nervous. Not a bit.
“Even is the ninth, I wasn’t thinking about a no-hitter. Maybe I didn’t think it could happen to me. Anyway, when Dropo hit that ball back to me for the final out I decided I’d take it over to first base myself.”
What’d he throw to mesmerize the White Sox?
“Sinker balls. I was throwing my sinker about 80 percent of the time. Now I call it a sinker. It’s not a screwball. I throw it like a fast ball, but the ball sinks in on a right-handed hitter. They beat it into the ground.”
“Listen,” Mel said, “those other guys made some wonderful plays behind me. Piersall took Aparicio’s drive and Goodie and Klaus made some good plays too.”
Manager Mike Higgins was happy as a kid. He was happy because his team won six in a row.
But he was most happy because of Parnell.
Mike had sweated out two years of crippling injuries with Mel. He must have felt pretty bad to have one of the top lefties in the league unavailable for what amounted to two months while his pennant chances went bye-bye for want of another pitcher.
No tough plays
“That,” said Higgins with a smile, “was something.”
“There really wasn’t a tough play for the official scorer to call, was there?” he asked the writer, who happened to be the official scorer.
“The hardest hit ball was Aparicio’s liner to Piersall. And that wasn’t too hard hit. The line drive Minoso hit to Klaus was well hit. The hardest play of the game was the one Goodie made in the ninth. That ball wasn’t a foot from second base and he did a hellvua job with it.
Goodman was pleased that he could help Parnell.
So was Piersall.
The no-hitter was a warm glow. But the biggest thing for Parnell was the ovation.