|Mel Parnell pitches the first Fenway no-hitter since 1923|
ON THIS DATE (July 14, 1956) ... In one of the Red Sox most dramatic moments, Mel Parnell became the first Red Sox pitcher since 1923 to pitch a no-hit, no run game, and the first at Fenway Park since 1918, when he stopped the White Sox 4 to 0. And a no-hitter didn't mean a thing to the veteran left-hander. Then he wiped the sweat from his face and realized what happened.
Reporters and radioman by the dozen descended upon him and the phone began to ring with offers from TV studios for personal appearances. Then owner Tom Yawkey and general manager Joe Cronin walked into the clubhouse. Yawkey informed Parnell that he was being given a $500 bonus for pitching a brilliant, drama filled no-hitter. Parnell's face fell astonished. Then the Red Sox brass informed Parnell that he would sign a new contract to cover the bonus. This was a day Parnell would never forget.
Amazing was this performance in a ballpark so small that one little mistake men any immediate wrecking of dreams. Parnell was throwing about 80% sinker balls all the time.
Two months ago Parnell suffered a third major injury in his many seasons. The washed up sign was hard on him. Nobody wanted to gamble trading for. Today, the great southpaw was one more games than any left-handed pitcher in Red Sox history at only two balls hit hard against him. He faced only 28 batters, one above the minimum.
The 14,542 fans gathered had been built up to excited expectations as Parnell went through eight innings, facing by 24 batters, are for the distance. Like everyone in the ballpark and those listening on radio or watching on TV, Parnell knew he had a no-hitter as he came out to pitch the final inning.
He walked leadoff batter Sammy Esposito on a 3-2 pitch as he appeared to be working more cautiously. Luis Aparicio didn't delay the tingling finish. He went after Parnell's first serve and wrapped a medium hard grounder back at the mound which Parnell just missed. Fortunately for him, Billy Goodman was playing close to second base trying for a doubleplay. Goodman took the ball a couple of feet from second base and slipped, but flipped over to Don Buddin for the force play on Esposito.
A right-handed pinch-hitter, Bubba Phillips, batted for pitcher Paul LaPalme. He knocked Parnell second throw down to Billy Klaus and his throw over to Goodman forced Aparicio at second base, but Phillips was too fast to be doubled up. There would be one more batter left for Parnell to conquer.
Out of the dugout came Walt Dropo, the big right-handed firstbaseman and a former teammate. Dropo swung on Parnell's first pitch, like a guy trying to catch a train. The ball went right back to Parnell who scooped up cleanly took one look toward drove home and then sprinted over first base to make the final out.
Because of bad streak of injuries, Parnell and only been able to win five games in the past two seasons. The fans were on him and he had been charged with a lack of desire in the newspapers. The Red Sox management and tried to trade him without success. The misfortunes which played Parnell began in May 1954, when he sustained a fractured left forearm when struck on a pitch ball in Washington. He never fully recovered that year and 1 to 3 games. In 1955 he appeared ready for a comeback until the final day of spring training when he slipped off the mound. This season he didn't get much of a chance to pitch. He had won only one game during the first month and on May 16 suffered a severe sprain in his left ankle.