ANDERSON — It was dark and overcast in Brooklyn, N.Y., on the day Carl Erskine threw his first no-hitter.
The then 25-year-old Dodgers pitcher was racing against the clock at Ebbetts Field. The home team had scored five runs in the bottom of the first inning, and his job became to retire the Chicago Cubs as rapidly as possible.
Rain certainly was on the way, and the goal was just to get through five innings so the game could be official and Brooklyn could get the win.
They made it through just three frames before the skies opened up, and both teams retreated to the clubhouse.
Erskine recalls the details as clearly as if the game was played last week. But, in fact, it occured on June 19, 1952.
The Anderson native spent the rain delay playing bridge with teammates Billy Cox, Pee Wee Reese and Bobby Morgan. The players didn't really expect the baseball game to resume. So when a clubhouse kid came running into the room with news the tarp was being removed from the field, Erskine rushed to change back into his game jersey and get back on the mound.
He retired the next 18 batters he faced to complete his gem. The only blemish was a walk issued to Cubs pitcher Willie Ramsdell during the third inning, when Erskine's primary goal still was beating the rain.
Ramsdell was a career .156 hitter who batted just .056 in 1952. And the walk he received was his only free pass that season and one of just eight during his five-year career.
So Erskine understands a little of what Los Angeles Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu must have been feeling Monday after coming so close to throwing a perfect game.
Ryu lost his bid for perfection when Cincinnati Reds first baseman Todd Frazier led off the eighth inning with a double. The Dodgers held on to win 4-3, just one day after Josh Beckett hurled a no-hitter to finish out a series against the Philadelphia Phillies.