June 2, 1933 – Mel Harder Complete Game Shutout
Game 44 was the second half of a Friday double-header. Mel Harder was matched up with Bump Hadley of the St. Louis Browns. Both pitchers put up impressive stat lines. Harder gave up six hits, struck out four, no walks.
For the Tribe, Dick Porter doubled to left to lead off the game. After Bill Cissel was put out on a line drive to left field, Johnny Burnett drove Porter home with another double to left field. Harder and Hadley would continue to battle through the evening.
Browns threatened in the bottom of the 7th with runners at 1st and 3rd. Harder got Sam West to ground out to third and end the inning. In the end, Hadley gave up only four hits and two walks but the one run in the first was all that Harder needed to get the complete game win.
Mel Harder was known for command of his pitches and being strategic, rather than overpowering hitters with speed. Not unlike the Indians of today, the pitching staff of the early 1930s was one of the best in the league, but the offense was sub-par. In 1933, Harder led the league with a 2.95 ERA, but finished 15-17 in the win-loss column. Poor defense was a factor, but this was mostly due to a lack of run support, (the Indians scored three runs or less in 20 of his 31 starts).
A year earlier in 1932, Mel Harder threw the first official pitch at Municipal Stadium. In 1993, he was honored to throw a ceremonial “last pitch” at the Stadium after the final home game of 1993.
Harder pitched for 20 seasons with the Tribe 1928 to 1947, only Walter Johnson of the Senators pitched more consecutive seasons (21) for one team. He then served as the Indians’ pitching coach from 1948 to 1963, revolutionizing the role of a pitching coach in the MLB by promoting the use of the sinker and mentoring the pitching staffs of the great 1948 and 1954 teams.