An Awesome Cubs’ Debut (5-15-1960)

The baseball season was a month old, and the Chicago Cubs were off to their usual, dismal start. Manager Charlie Grimm had resigned and been replaced by broadcaster Lou Boudreau—while Grimm took over Boudreau’s vacated spot in the radio booth. Trying to shake things up, the team swung a major trade with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Wrigley Field was packed today for a double-header against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cubs dropped the first game, 6-1. In the nightcap, Don Cardwell was scheduled to make his first start since coming over from the Phillies.

Cardwell was a 24-year old right-hander. He had never had a winning season. But the Cubs’ front office thought he had potential, and decided to take a chance on him.

Don Cardwell, 5-15-1960

Don Cardwell, 5-15-1960

Making his Cub debut before a full house, Cardwell was shaky. He walked the second batter to face him. Then he settled down and retired the side. The innings went by, the Cardinals came to bat, and Cardwell mowed them down one-two-three. Meanwhile, the Cubs jumped out to a 4-0 lead.

About the seventh inning, the fans awoke to the fact that Cardwell hadn’t given up any hits. Baseball superstition decreed that no mention should ever be made of a no-hitter in progress. As the afternoon went on and the shadows began to stretch across the field, tension filled the stands, as everyone tried to avoid talking about what they were all thinking about.

The ninth inning came, and Cardwell retired the first two Cardinals. Now he faced Joe Cunningham, a dangerous left-handed hitter who had nearly won the league batting championship the year before. With the count full, Cunningham sliced a sinking line drive to short left field.

Walter "Moose" Moryn--once a Dodger

Walter “Moose” Moryn–once a Dodger

Moose Moryn, the Cubs’ left-fielder, was slow moving and ponderous. But now Moryn raced in at warp speed, glove-hand extended. He snatched the ball at his shoe tops, just before it hit the grass, then continued running in without breaking stride, holding the ball aloft in triumph.

Players and spectators poured onto the field. For the first time in major league history, a player had pitched a no-hitter in his first start with a new team. Surely, better times were ahead for the Cubs.

Don Cardwell spent three seasons with the Cubs, without doing anything else special.

Nothing more needs to be said.




7 Responses to “An Awesome Cubs’ Debut (5-15-1960)”

  1. 1 mkstichauf May 15, 2014 at 2:16 am

    Although I was born in 1963, my first memories of “past Cub highlights” started when I was about 7. In those days, during rain delays, channel 9 used to show old highlights of past sporting events of Chicago that they had on tape. They showed old Bears game highlights or high school basketball championship game highlights. One of the ones I will ALWAYS remember is the last two outs of Cardwell’s no-no!! I can still hear Jack Brickhouse saying, “Watch it! Watch it! (or Watch out) and then hear him say, “Come on Moose!” as Moryn raced in to catch that ball off his shoestrings! God, do I miss Jack!
    Thanks for the memories!

    • 2 J.R. Schmidt May 15, 2014 at 7:20 am

      I’m older than you, so I saw it when it happened. Check this out–it’s on Youtube–

  2. 3 benson May 16, 2014 at 9:28 am

    John, this is a bit out of left field (I guess the pun is intended) but Cardwell in that picture is 24 years old. Must be the Marine haircut, he looks like he’s 50.

    • 4 mkstichauf May 16, 2014 at 9:37 am

      Yes benson, I always thought that he was in his thirties when he threw the no-no.

    • 5 J.R. Schmidt May 16, 2014 at 9:42 am

      I agree that Cardwell looks older than 24. Still, I think our perceptions are colored by our own aging. I watched “Casablanca” the other night. I first saw it on TV when I was about 10 or 11. Even now, I have a gut feeling that the characters are older than me. But I’m 66 now, and every one of the main actors were younger than that when they made the move–even Sydney Greenstreet.

  3. 6 Ben Ingrassia October 4, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    I was a 17 year old Cubs fan in 1960; as usual, I rode the Addison St. bus to Wrigley Field and bought a program and a lower grandstand ticket on the third base side of the field. As the games would wind down, the Andy Frain ushers would let the fans move down into the empty box seats, and this game was no exception. By the 7th inning, the box seats were full, and I grabbed a seat down near the Cubs dugout. When Moose Moryn made his running catch, I was over the box seat railing along with a few thousand other fans, running to the mound towards Cardwell. I did manage to get into one of the newspaper photos. Then, I ran out to the right field wall, and plucked a piece of ivy off the wall, left the park with the ivy and my scorecard and my memories, boarded the Addison bus and went home. The ivy died, the scorecard went the way of my baseball cards, but my memories of Don Cardwell’s no-hitter are still vivid.

    • 7 J.R. Schmidt October 9, 2015 at 5:20 am

      I remember watching the game on TV, and more recently, watching the old WGN video. Moryn was more hitter than fielder, and when Cunningham’s liner started sinking, I had a flash thought of Billy Pierce’s perfect game being ruined a couple of years before. But old Moose came through!

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