In the new age of baseball, relief pitching can be the key to a championship. Teams pay top dollar for a good closer and proven middle relief. Starting pitchers are too high-priced to damage their arms by going over 100-pitches or finishing a complete game. Nowadays, it is quite unusual to see any pitcher complete more than 2 games in any season, but that was not always the case. In the early decades of the game, most pitchers finished what they started unless they got into too much trouble.
Relief was something only for the big games. This is the state of baseball in 1944 when Charley "Red" Barrett played for the Boston Braves. Barrett was a career .500 pitcher during eleven seasons with the Reds, Braves, and Cardinals. It was on August 10th of that year, playing his former team, that Barrett made history. He threw not only the shortest night game in history at one hour and fifteen minutes, but also the complete game with the fewest pitches ever. Barrett needed only fifty-eight pitches to shutout the Reds 2-0 with only two hits and no walks. Baseball Almanac proudly presents this in-depth look at the shortest complete game in history!
The one hour fifteen minutes needed to complete the Fewest Pitches in a Complete Game enhanced box score seen above [ Standard Box Score ], is also the Major League record for shortest nine inning game played at night !
Did you know that several AP / UPI newspaper articles about this particular game never made mention of the amazing pitch-count record set by Red Barrett ? In 1951, a fan asked The Sporting News about the least number of pitches thrown and received the following reply:
"On August 10, 1944 , Charlie (Red) Barrett , then with the Boston Braves , used only 58 pitches in beating Bucky Walters of Cincinnati , 2-0. There are no authentic records on the fewest balls pitched in a game since the beginning of professional baseball, but Barrett's 58 is the lowest we have on our files."
Can this record be broken? Will anybody ever even come close? The next closest game was played during 1915 and it had sixty-seven pitches. One of the closest ways might be a perfect game and we've recorded all the known pitch counts for these classics for you on the perfect game club page.