May 15, 1918
Walter Johnson had already accomplished a lot of remarkable things in his career by the time his 12th major league season rolled around. Somehow, he managed to find a record that he hadn’t broken yet, and did so against the Chicago White Sox during a May game in Washington.
Johnson had 71 career shutouts when play started in 1918, so he was no stranger to a scoreless game. While Johnson held the White Sox without a run for nine innings, Lefty Williams matched him inning-for-inning.
Through nine innings, the score was 0-0.
Both pitchers remained in the game. This was the deadball era, of course, and there were no pitch counts for another 60 years. The scoreless string continued through almost another nine innings.
As the teams headed for the bottom of the 18th inning, Johnson had allowed no runs on 10 hits. He must have had enough pitching, because Johnson singled to put runners at first and third. It was Johnson’s only hit in seven at-bats that day, but it put the Nats in position to win.
The winning run scored when Williams threw a wild pitch, scoring Eddie Ainsmith from third base. Aside from the 18-inning shutout, this game was unique in that there were no substitutions and no errors in the game.
According to the Sporting News, the 18 scoreless innings pitched for Johnson made a streak of 31 consecutive scoreless innings for the Washington ace.
The shutout was the longest ever in the major leagues at the time. It was equaled by Carl Hubbell in 1933, but has never been surpassed.