Fifty-five years ago, this week, one of Apalachicola’s favorite sons set a record for baseball prowess when he pitched a perfect game.
It was 1959, Ron Bloodworth, just 22 years old, had left the Washington Senators after a salary dispute and was lead pitcher for the Lincoln
It had started as a bad season. The
Bloodworth’s wife taught school in Apalachicola. When she called to discuss coming to stay with him at the end of the school year, he told her she’d better wait until after his next game.
He was worried. Bloodworth’s record for the season stood at 2-4 and he was just returning from a disastrous three-game series against Des Moines.
“I had to do something,” recalled Bloodworth. “I decided I was going to be the leanest, meanest pitcher the Sherman Field had ever seen.”
The June 10 home game was against the Green Bay Bluejays, the number one team in the league with a 10-2 record, and six straight wins going into the June 10 doubleheader.
The evening’s first game went poorly, with the
The following account of Bloodworth’s perfect game comes from Del Black, writing for the Lincoln Evening Journal.
“Thursday night’s action started in a dismal fashion when Green Bay whipped the deep left-center to open the second, only to find Pug Williams starting at the crack of the bat and hauling in the drive over his shoulder and near the fence.
“In the same inning, Fran Boniar, the winner of two minor league batting titles, hit a ‘frozen rope,’ to the left of second base where Don Bacon was moving, leaning and stretching to haul in the shot.
‘Tim Harkness brought the Shermantown crowd to its feet in the seventh with his screeching one-hopper, which was only inches foul. If fair, it would have gone for a triple.
“Pinch hitter John Osborne, batting with one out in the ninth, became the first man to run the count to 3-2 on Bloodworth. Cool Ronnie came in with a curve ball that Osborne fouled over the grandstand for new life. Osborne then looked at a called third strike.”
One sports writer praised Bloodworth saying, “(He) kept mixing up his multiple-speed curve and fast ball. His control was excellent. He ran the count to three balls on only three players.”
In the course of the game, only five balls were hit into the outfield.
“I just kept moving the ball around trying to keep it breaking inside on all the hitters,” said Bloodworth. “The catcher would give me a signal and I’d shake it off to confuse the batter. There’s a lot of mental stuff going on in batter’s head wondering what you’re going to throw.”
The game finished 3-0. Centerfielder Jim Lynn hit a 370-foot homer in the fourth inning. The
Bloodworth’s masterpiece was only the second perfect game ever pitched in the Three-Is. The first, on August 18, 1910 was the work of Red Faber. That game also finished 3-0.
When the game was done, over 600 fans stood to honor Bloodworth with applause. “People started to leave before the game was over, but they must have been listening to the radio because, somehow, word got out,” he recalled. “They started filing back in at the end.”
Perhaps the greatest honor bestowed on Bloodworth was praise from the manager of the Bluejays. “This is what is good for baseball, especially minor league baseball. What a game that boy pitched. It’s a great thing for the boy and a great thing for Lincoln,” Stan Wasiak told sportswriters.
“In those days, we had some good guys in the sport,” Bloodworth said. “Some real gentlemen.”
On leaving the mound, Bloodworth wrote his way through a throng of autograph seekers. When he reached the clubhouse, he was met by club president A. Q. Schimmel. “Great game, Ronnie. The steaks are on me,” Schimmel said as he shook the young pitcher’s hand.
Bloodworth told reporters his greatest regret was that his wife didn’t see the game. “I called her afterwards and told her she could come on to Lincoln,” he said. “I told her I had pitched a perfect game and she said, ‘What’s a perfect game?’”
For those who may not be clear, a perfect game means that the pitcher hurled 27 consecutive outs over nine innings. Not only were there no hits against the pitcher, but no batter reached first base for any reason, such as on a walk, an error or being hit by a pitch. The feat is considered a rarity at all levels, and has been achieved only 23 times in the history of major league baseball.
Bloodworth now lives back in Apalachicola and has been with SunCoast Realty for about 20 years.