On July 15, 1876, Saint Louis Brown Stockings' George Bradley stepped on the mound on a hot streak. At the time, he was protecting a 20-inning scoreless streak. What he nor his teammates knew at the time was that he was on the precipice of history that afternoon.
In an era where pitch counts were non-existent and the very idea of rest was met with guffaws, Bradley had already beaten that day's opponent, the Hartford Dark Blues, as well as his pitching counterpart, Tommy Bond, twice that week with both games ending in shutout fashion. The Brown Stockings started off hot, scoring once in the first inning and again in the second inning while their reliable pitcher continued to force outs.
Alas, while Bradley played well, his teammates struggled, giving up eight errors before the game was finished. Like any no-hitter, this one had moments of unclarity, moments that threatened history. In the eighth inning, Bradley walked Tom York who subsequently was made it to second on a sacrifice fly and to third on a wild pitch. But his teammate Bill Harbridge grounded to the Brown Stockings' shortstop Mike McGreary who promptly zipped the ball to Dutch Dehlman at first to end the Dark Blues' best chance at ending the hitless streak.
From there, Saint Louis cruised to baseball's first no-hitter, winning 2-0. George Bradley continued to stretch his scoreless streak three days later against Cincinnati and had a bid for baseball's second no-hitter well into the ninth, but Charles "Baby" Jones hit a double and his catcher Amos Booth drove him in the Brown Stockings still won 5-1, but George Bradley's scoreless streak ended at 37 innings.