Last month, Ed Verdurmen made his yearly trek to Klein Field at Sunken Diamond from Portland, Ore., to watch the Stanford baseball team play Arizona. This was a special trip for the 80-year-old Verdurmen, who threw the first no-hitter at the field in April of 1956, and was asked to throw out the first pitch.
"I was nervous about it," said Verdurmen. "I hadn't thrown in 15 or 20 years since my grandson was in Little League. I was hoping I wouldn't bounce it."
"It might even have been a strike," Verdurmen said.
The Cardinal's Austin Barr caught it. Coincidentally, Barr's home town is Camas, Wash.
"I can see it from my living room window," said Verdurmen.
Verdurmen still has the ball and lineup card from his no-hitter, an 11-0 win against Pepperdine. A junior at the time, he worked the final batter to an 0-2 count and credits catcher Doug Camilli for keeping him calm.
"I remember that last pitch vividly," he said. "That moment is really in slow motion. I did not have a fast curveball and he called for a curve. When you're pitching with a good catcher, everything is more comfortable. I was a little nervous, but it turned out to be a good pitch. Just off the wide edge of the plate for a swinging strike three."
Verdurmen recorded seven strikeouts and walked four.
Verdurmen pitched for three years -- freshmen were not eligible -- and graduated with a degree in education, finished a pre-med requirement, and was accepted to dental school. His biggest takeaway from playing baseball at Stanford were the lifetime bonds he formed.Mark Marquess and Ed Verdurmen speak pregame
"The thing I really remember about those years was the teammates," said Verdurmen. "Baseball meant a great deal to us. I had the distinctive feeling that pro ball would not be the same."
Good friend Bob Fletcher, who played second base and center field with Verdurmen, was on hand to see him recognized last month.
"He got a lot of exercise when I was pitching," Verdurmen said.
Verdurmen also praised former Stanford standout Jack Shepard (1953), who captained the first Cardinal team to reach the College World Series and went on to play professionally.
"He was our mentor," he said.
As it turned out, Verdurmen never made it to dental school. His father died the year he left school, and he returned to Oregon to oversee a small service station and oil fuel truck.
While Sunken Diamond has been upgraded in many ways since he played, it still feels like home to Verdurmen.
"It has an old feel with the benches and embankment," said Verdurmen. "When I walk into it for my one series a year, I get the same feeling."