Red Barrett and the Epitome of Efficiency
By Tamar Chalker
In this week’s foray into lesser known baseball history, we look at Red Barrett and perhaps the most efficient game of baseball ever pitched. Earlier this fall, I recounted Babe Ruth’s 14-inning World Series pitching appearance, so it’s only fair we look at a feat that is the polar opposite. Regardless of how different these performances are, it’s safe to say we are unlikely to see either of them replicated any time soon.
Barrett’s Boston Braves took on the Cincinnati Reds on August 10, 1944 at Crosley Field, the Reds’ home field from 1912 until 1970. There was no chance of a perfect game or a no-hitter, as Barrett gave up a single to Gee Walker in the first inning, however, what Barrett accomplished is arguably more impressive (arguably – so feel free to make your thoughts on the matter heard in the comments!). Eddie Miller singled in the sixth inning, rounding out the only offense the Reds would muster.
So, just how efficient was Barrett on that late-summer day in 1944? Well, he managed to throw a complete game shutout with only 58 pitches. Given he allowed two hits, and therefore only two more hitters than the minimum one could face in a nine-inning game, Barrett threw an average of exactly two pitches per hitter that day, and while he did not give up a walk, he didn’t get any strikeouts either.
The Braves won the game 2-0 behind shortstop Damon Phillips 3-4 day with a RBI and a run. Not only did Red Barrett manage to throw a complete game with under 60 pitches, but the game itself only took an hour and fifteen minutes to play.
The game would prove to be Barrett’s only shutout for the season, however, he threw 11 over his 11-year career. It was also one of 11 complete games he threw in 1944, though in 1945 he managed 23 complete games and three shutouts. Barrett finished his career with a 69-69 record and a 3.53 ERA.
The fact that Barrett averaged only two pitches per batter blows my mind. Obviously, this requires the batters to swing early in the count more often than not, but even then it seems like an incredible feat.