July 21, 1940: Paul Derringer goes seven perfect innings and Frank McCormick clubs a grand slam home run as the Reds defeat the New York Giants, 6-1, in the first game of a double header at Cincinnati’ Crosley Field.
Derringer (nicknamed Oom Paul) retired the first 21 batters he faced before giving up a leadoff seventh inning home run to first baseman Babe Young. Jo-Jo Moore singled in the ninth for the Giants’ only other hit. The Reds had 10 hits, including McCormick’s tenth home run of the year, the fifth inning grand slam.
Derringer walked no one in the game, striking out one, improving his record to 13-7 on the season. Derringer finished the season with a 20-12 record with a 3.06 ERA. His best season was 1939 when he went 25-7 with a 2.93 ERA. Derringer had four twenty win seasons for the Reds and was selected to six all-star teams. He finished third in MVP voting in 1939 and fourth in 1940 (there was no Cy Young Award). He played his final three seasons with the Chicago Cubs.
Derringer played on some poor teams early in his career, going 7-27 with a 3.30 ERA in 1933 for a team that finished 58-94 and 15-21 in 1934 for a 52-99 team. Overall his career record was 223-212 (161-150 with the Reds). Derringer and Bucky Walters made up one of the best one-two pitching duos in major league history. Derringer had a shining rookie season with the St. Louis Cardinals, going 18-8 with a 3.36 ERA. He fell to 11-14 the next year and was dealt to the Reds for shortstop Leo Durocher in a multi-player deal. He and Walters combined for 52 wins for the 1939 Reds World Series team and 42 more for the 1940 World Series champions.
Walters made it to the majors as a weak hitting third baseman for the Boston Braves, his most productive season coming in 1934 when he batted .250 with eight homers and 56 rbi. He was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies early during that 1934 season. He was convinced to start pitching and pitched seven innings in 1934 with a 1.29 ERA. He started 22 games in 1935 (9-9, 4.17 ERA) and ended up leading the league in losses in 1936 when he went 11-21 with a 4.26 ERA. He was traded to the Reds in mid-1938 and went 11-6 with a 3.69 ERA in a partial season in Cincinnati. The next season he exploded to win the National League Triple Crown of pitching and the MVP award when he went 27-11 with a 2.27 ERA and struck out 137. He led the National League in wins again in 1940 with 22 and in ERA with 2.48 while tying Derringer for fifth in strikeouts with 115. He as a three-time 20 game winner, finishing his career with a 198-160 record with a 3.30 ERA. With the Reds, he was 160-107 with a 2.93 ERA.
Frank McCormick ws the leader of the infield, a tremendous run producer who accumulated hits by the boatload. Not blessed with prodigious power, he had two cups of coffee in the majors (batting .313 and .325) before making it the majors for good at age 26 in 1938. He led the National League in hits his first three seasons in the majors (209, 209, 191) and led the NL in rbi in 1939 with 128. His first three seasons also accounted for rbi seasons of 106, 128, and 127. He finished in the top five in MVP in each of this first three seasons, winning the award in 1940. He was the third consecutive Red to take home MVP honors (catcher Ernie Lombardi in 1938, Walters in 1939, and McCormick in 1940). McCormick was named to the all-star team in each of his first seven major league seasons and eight times overall. He finished his career with a .299 batting average, and hit .301 while with the Reds.
Reds Hall of Fame manager Bill McKechnie finished at .500 or above in each of his first seven seasons at the Reds helm. In nine seasons with the Reds, McKechnie’s record was 744-631. He also won a World Series total managing the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1925 and won a National Leage pennant with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1928. The McKechnie philosophy was pitching and defense first and that offense was a bonus. His philosophy worked for him and he was named to Hall of Fame in 1962.