Wednesday, May 2, 1917 was an ordinary spring day in Chicago. The high temperature was 62 degrees and light northwest winds blew at the corner of Clark & Addison Streets in Chicago, at the place we now know as Wrigley Field.
Back then it was called Weeghman Park, and the Chicago Cubs were in just their second year playing on the North Side of the city.
The Cubs had just completed a 6-4 road trip to Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and St. Louis and came home with a 10-7 record. They entered action on May 2 half a game behind the first-place Giants. They were to face the Reds that afternoon at 3 p.m., the customary starting time in those days.
It’s the only time in baseball history neither team had a hit through the regulation nine. For a time it was known as a double no-hitter, until Major League Baseball changed the way it regards no-hitters and Vaughn’s was taken away because he did allow two hits in the 10th inning. (In the vernacular of the day, the Tribune’s headline called them “bingles.”)
The Cubs thus lost the game 1-0. Here’s a bit of James Crusinberry’s recap from the next day’s Tribune:
When nine rounds had been played neither one of the stalwart hurlers had allowed a base hit, but in the tenth the break came, and it went against Vaughn. Two hits were registered with one error, and Cincinnati got a run. Toney went back in the last half and set three Cubs down in a row, thus winning the day and the honor of a no hit no run game.
Many times it has happened that a pitcher on one side has gained the honor of allowing no hits, but none of the old time fans can remember of seeing two pitchers fight for nine innings and neither one allow a hit. There wasn’t even a fluke which might have been called a hit in the first nine rounds. Vaughn passed two batsmen and one Cincinnati man got to first when Rollie Zeider fumbled an easy grounder.
In fact, the memory of the “old time fans” was true. No game like that had ever happened before, and none has occurred since. There have been just two no-hitters thrown at Wrigley Field by visiting pitchers since then. 48 years later Jim Maloney, also a Reds hurler, no-hit the Cubs 1-0 in a 10-inning contest that was the first game of a doubleheader. That game has the distinction of being the last complete-game extra-inning no-hitter.
But that’s it. Through Monday the Cubs have played 7,969 games at what is now known as Wrigley Field, and just three of those games have been no-hitters against them. (Comparison point: The Dodgers were no-hit at home twice in 10 days in 2015, one of those by Jake Arrieta.)
A century has gone by since Toney and Vaughn’s epic battle. According to the Tribune, only about 3,000 people watched that gem 100 years ago. Imagine the attention such a pitching duel would receive if it happened today.