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Lefty Gomez’s wild complete game shutout

A day to forget for Chet Laabs.

Arizona Diamondbacks v New York Yankees Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Lefty Gomez’s day started inauspiciously on August 1, 1941 when he allowed a lead-off single to Don Heffner of the St. Louis Browns. The Yankees’ starter was having a decent but unspectacular 1941 season in what would be his penultimate season in New York.

Gomez got the next two outs, but then walked two hitters to load the bases. Browns’ catcher Chet Laabs flew out to end the inning, letting Gomez off the hook, and beginning a trend.

The Yankees got Gomez three runs of support in the bottom of the first, before the Yankees’ starter worked around a one-out walk in the top of the second. In top of the third, Gomez got two quick outs before allowing a single and a walk, before again getting Laabs to fly out to end the inning.

In the bottom of the third, the Yankees broke open the game with three more runs. Tommy Henrich hit his second home run of the day, and the Yankees finished the inning up 6-0. That would be more than plenty of run support for Gomez to get the win, but it would be an adventure getting there.

In the fourth, Gomez allowed a lead-off single, but then got three straight outs. In the fifth, Gomez walked the lead-off hitter, induced a double play, walked the next two batters, and then struck out Laabs to get out of another jam.

The Yankees added another run to go up 7-0 in the bottom of the fifth, before Gomez worked his way around a one-out single in the top of the sixth. Then the Yankees tacked on another two runs in the bottom of the sixth. Gomez again allowed a single in the seventh, but again worked around it to keep the Browns off the board.

In the top of the eighth, Gomez issued a one-out walk, followed by a Phil Rizzuto error, putting two on with one out. Gomez got Maury Newlin to ground out to end inning, stranding another two runners. For once, Laabs wasn’t the one stranding the runners. Mainly because he flew out to lead off the inning.

Down 9-0, the Browns had one last chance to at least get on the board in the top of the ninth. Gomez got two quick outs before walking George McQuinn. A wild pitch allowed McQuinn to go to second. He would have made it to second anyway, as Gomez walked Bobby Estalella. Roy Cullenbine then drew another walk, loading the bases with two outs.

That brought Chet Laabs to the plate. A nine-run deficit with two outs in the ninth is fairly difficult to comeback from. However, Laabs had a chance to at least end his day on a good note. He did not, and flew out to end the game.

Gomez allowed five hits to the Browns and walked 11 batters. The Browns put runners on in every innings against Gomez, but somehow he still finished with a complete game shutout.

Spare a thought for poor Chet Laabs. Across Laabs’ five at bats, the Browns had ten runners on base for him. He went 0-5.

Sources

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYA/NYA194108010.shtml

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/g/gomezle01.shtml

All data courtesy of the Baseball Reference Play Index