Bill Dietrich was a rather bad pitcher. Nicknamed "Bullfrog", either because of his "hopping gait" or "the big glasses he wore", he walked more batters (890) than he struck out (660) in a 16 year career that began in 1933. He gave up a lot of runs. While he reportedly had a fast fastball, he lacked control. And his 4.4 career rWAR reflects his marginally above replacement level production. But every frog has his day. And June 1, 1937, was his.
The days leading up to it, though, were pretty bad. He had appeared in six games so far that season, starting two of them. And in his most recent game, a start in the second game of a doubleheader at Cleveland, Dietrich's already inflated ERA ballooned to 10.12 after he gave up 10 runs in 3.1 innings of work.
So, naturally, manager Jimmy Dykes brought Dietrich back on two days rest to start at home against the St. Louis Browns. It was a good decision.The 1937 Browns were a really bad team. The main attraction probably was 41 year old player-manager Rogers Hornsby, who would be fired (and retired) during the season. He could kinda sorta still hit but he had been a bit player since being traded to the Browns in 1933. Between 1934 and 1936, he made just 64 plate appearances. You can waste a roster spot like that when you're not carrying 12 pitchers.
In 1937, however, Hornsby had been playing much more leading up to June 1 as he appeared in 15 of the Browns' 34 games to that point. However, he didn't play in this game and the guy with seven batting titles and the second highest career batting average in major league history was probably glad he didn't play. Of course, he still had to manage it.
Hornsby sent Chief Hogsett to the hill against Dietrich (what has happened to all the good baseball names?). He would be no match for Dietrich as he got pulled by Hornsby after just one inning in which he walked five batters and gave up 3 runs. And that would be more than enough for Dietrich.
Because play-by-play isn't available for this game, it's unclear how long Dietrich had a perfect game. Third baseman Tony Piet committed an error so perhaps it was then. Dietrich also walked two so perhaps it was the first of those that broke it up.
What is clear, though, is that no Browns got a hit against him and the White Sox won the game 8-0.
Dietrich described his success that day: "My best pitch, I consider, is a fast ball, but I depended almost entirely on slow stuff for the first five innings. They may have thrown the hitters off. They may have been expecting speed."
They may have also just sucked. The Browns would go on to finish last in the American League with a 46-108 record. They finished a whopping 56 games back from the first place Yankees. The White Sox would finish third (86-68), 13 games out.
According to some sources, just 1,500 fans witnessed Dietrich's no-hitter, which lasted one hour, forty-eight minutes. It was the 10th no-hitter in White Sox history and it would be 20 years, 2 months, and 19 days before another White Sox pitcher threw a no-hitter - the longest drought in franchise history.
Dietrich's 10.12 ERA remains the highest ERA of a pitcher before throwing a no-hitter. Interestingly, the White Sox are also connected to the pitcher who has the second-highest. Before no-hitting the White Sox on May 3, 2011, Francisco Liriano had an ERA of 9.13.
After being released by the White Sox in 1946, Dietrich spent two seasons back with his first team, his hometown Philadelphia. He finally gave up the ghost in 1950 at age 40 after attempting a comeback with the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League. He returned to Philadelphia where he became a salesman for a local grocery store chain. He did that until retiring for good in 1957, after which he enjoyed more than 20 years of retirement until his death on June 20, 1978, at the age of 68.