Gardner stern, 85, settled into his seat along the first base line at Comiskey Park before the start of Sunday's game between the Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees. "One of my most vivid memories of this place is Opening Day in 1940," said Stern, who has been attending games at Comiskey since the day it opened, in 1910. "I'll never forget it. I was sitting here shivering in the stands, and Bob Feller of the Cleveland Indians threw a no-hitter. The Sox couldn't touch him that day. I haven't seen a no-hitter since, and I don't suppose I'll get to see another."
Three hours later Stern, along with 30,641 others, was on his feet and shaking his head in disbelief. Yankee pitcher Andy Hawkins had just thrown a no-hitter—and lost. Chicago's 4-0 win marked only the second time in major league history that a pitcher had been defeated while completing a nine-inning game and yielding no hits. The other such game was played on April 23, 1964, when Houston Colt .45's pitcher Ken Johnson no-hit Cincinnati, only to fall 1-0 when two Houston errors in the ninth let in the deciding run.
Hawkins's historical undoing on Sunday came in the eighth inning, when, with two out and the game scoreless, Chicago's Sammy Sosa hit a hard grounder to New York third baseman Mike Blowers, who knocked the ball down, picked it up and fired to first as Sosa did a belly slide into the base. Safe—but Blowers was charged with an error. Hawkins then walked Ozzie Guillen on a 3-2 pitch and loaded the bases with a walk to Lance Johnson.
Throughout the game, a strong wind had blown in from Lake Michigan. "The ball was moving all over out there," Hawkins would say later. "Even the pop-ups were a trap." Chicago's Robin Ventura sliced a fly ball toward New York left-fielder Jim Leyritz, a rookie starting only his third game as an outfielder. "The ball started out right at me," Leyritz would say afterward. "Then it started breaking, and it kept breaking away from me." The ball glanced off Leyritz's glove—another error—and the grandstands erupted as three White Sox raced across the plate. Hawkins then watched helplessly as his rightfielder, Jesse Barfield, lost Ivan Calderon's fly ball in the sun; it was the Yankees' third error of the inning and allowed Ventura to score Chicago's fourth run. After Hawkins finally got Dan Pasqua to pop out to shortstop, ending the inning, the White Sox found themselves in a curious position in the top of the ninth: By holding New York to anything less than four runs they would thereby win the game and preserve Hawkins' no-hitter. And as it developed, Chicago, thanks to a loss by Oakland, would move into first place in the American League West even while being no-hit.
In the Yankee clubhouse after the game, the players stared into their roast beef sandwiches and waited for Hawkins to return from a TV interview. When he appeared at last, his mates applauded awkwardly and then, one by one, came over to commiserate with him. Like everyone else, Hawkins seemed in search of an appropriate emotion. "I'm disappointed, obviously," he said. "But I'm throwing well. Now I'm 1-5 with a no-hitter. You always dream of a no-hitter, and you dream of getting that last out and jumping up and down on the mound with all the guys in the infield. It just didn't work out that way for me."
Out in the stands, Stern had only slightly mixed emotions. "I feel sorry for the pitcher," he said, "but that's baseball. And the Sox are back in first. What a finish! Now, after 80 years, I can say, 'I have seen it all.' "
After 80 years of Sox games, Stern has finally seen it all.