Friday, June 5, 2020

June 5, 1956, Atkinson Stops Topeka On No-Hitter

     On June 5, 1956,  Cardinals minor leaguer and Sioux City hurler Dick Atkinson no-hit the Topeka Hawks at Soos Park in Sioux City Iowa. Only three men reached base as Atkinson struck out nine men en route to the achievement that every pitcher dreams of, as his Soos beat the Hawks 2-0 in front of the gem tossed by the big righty.

     Dick Atkinson may not be a name that is known among all of Cardinals Nation. He played for four seasons as a minor leaguer in the Cardinals organization and two more with the White Sox organization. He did not crack a major league roster, but at times he stood by the sides of men like Stan Musial and Ken Boyer. Through social media, Dick has become a friend. When he posted about this game, I dug up headlines and got to thinking how great it would be for him to relive it one more time. This is a first for me, but I am going to tell the tale just as it was told Sioux City Journal writer by John C. Kelly in the newspaper the following day:     

     Dick Atkinson, the big righthander from Scammon, Kansas, pitched himself in the record books Tuesday night as he hurled a nearly perfect no-hitter in Soos Park, as the Soos won, 2-0.

     The same two teams square off again tonight with Ted Thiem (4-5) scheduled for the Soos and Herbert Skankman (2-2) getting the nod for the Hawks. 

     Facing only 29 batters in all, Atkinson gave up a walk in the second, Bill Bohlender was safe in the third on Gene Davis' glaring error, and a walk in the seventh, with the runner quickly erased in the game's only double play, 

     Dick had to go all out to win, in spite of his complete mastery of Hawks batters, as Marshall Bridges, the former Soos first baseman, gave up only three hits. But the Soos made their hits count.

                                                                   Score in Sixth
     The first run came in the sixth on a walk to Atkinson, a sacrifice and Ken Landenberger's double to right field. The final run came in the ninth on Don Catchot's single, a sacrifice bunt by Atkinson that found Catchot beating the attempted force at second, a walk to load the bases and Art Burnett's long fly to deep left center.

     Dick found the Soos going all out to preserve the no-hitter, too. , as there were any number of fine plays, with the three falling in the superlative class. In the sixth Don Catchot made a beautiful, over the shoulder catch of Bridges drive, just inches short of the centerfield fence.

     In the same inning , Burnett beat Mike Jezierski out of a hit with a gloved-hand pickup and quick throw of a finely placed bunt, and in the ninth Wally Fassler went deep to left short and came up fast to throw out Bohlender for the last serious threat. 

                                                                                                               Fans 9 Batters

     The righthander struck out nine Hawks and most of the time had the visitors popping up or grounding out, as only five balls were knocked out of the infield. After the error in the third inning he retired 11 men in a order, have up one more walk and that was the story. 

     Atkinson makes his home in Scammon, Kansas, but in the offseason he is a graduate student at Kansas State Teachers College at Pitssburg, Kansas. He is 24 years old, stands 6 feet 2 inches and is a graduate of Missouri University. He started pro ball with Omaha in 1952, and pitched a one hitter against Colorado Springs that year. 

     Today, Dick resides in Arizona. He has lived and continues to live a great life full of memories of days on the diamond and the days that have followed. I can tell in our brief interactions that those days on the diamond are days that are cherished. He told me that baseball has been a guide throughout his life and everything he has he owes to the game. That is quite the statement from a man who did what every pitcher dreams of on that day in 1956. He pitched a no-no.

Thank you, Dick for sharing the memory of that day with me, so it can be shared with others. It is a day that will be remembered. Proud to call you a friend.

Source: The Sioux City Journal published June 6, 1956