List of Major League Baseball perfect games

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Lee Richmond, pitcher of the first perfect game in major league history

Over the 135 years of Major League Baseball history, and well over 300,000 games played, there have been only 23 official perfect games by current definition. No pitcher has ever thrown more than one. The perfect game thrown by Don Larsen in game 5 of the 1956 World Series is the only postseason perfect game in major league history and one of only two postseason no-hitters. The first two major league perfect games, and the only two of the premodern era, were thrown in 1880, five days apart. The most recent perfect game was thrown on August 15, 2012 by Félix Hernández of the Seattle Mariners. There were three perfect games in 2012, with no other year ever having more than two thrown. By contrast, there have been spans of 23 and 33 consecutive seasons in which not a single perfect game was thrown.

The first two pitchers to accomplish the feat did so in 1880, under rules that differed in many important respects from those of today's game: for example, only underhand pitching—from a flat, marked-out box 45 feet from home plate—was allowed, it took eight balls to draw a walk, and a batter was not awarded first base if hit by a pitch.[1] Lee Richmond, a left-handed pitcher for the Worcester Ruby Legs, threw the first perfect game. He played professional baseball for six years and pitched full-time for only three, finishing with a losing record. The second perfect game was thrown by John Montgomery Ward for the Providence Grays. Ward, an excellent pitcher who became an excellent position player, went on to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Though convention has it that the modern era of Major League Baseball begins in 1900, the essential rules of the modern game were in place by the 1893 season. That year the pitching distance was moved back to 60 feet, 6 inches, where it remains, and the pitcher's box was replaced by a rubber slab against which the pitcher was required to place his rear foot. Two other crucial rules changes had been made in recent years: In 1887, the rule awarding a hit batsman first base was instituted in the National League (this had been the rule in the American Association since 1884: first by the umpire's judgment of the impact; as of the following year, virtually automatically).[2] In 1889, the number of balls required for a walk was reduced to four.[3] Thus, from 1893 on, pitchers sought perfection in a game whose most important rules are the same as today, with two significant exceptions: counting a foul ball as a first or second strike, enforced by the National League as of 1901 and by the American League two years later, and the use of the designated hitter in American League games since the 1973 season.[4]

During baseball's modern era, 21 pitchers have thrown perfect games. Most were accomplished major leaguers. Five are members of the Baseball Hall of Fame: Cy Young, Addie Joss, Jim Bunning, Sandy Koufax, and Catfish Hunter. A sixth, Randy Johnson, is a 300-game winner and five-time Cy Young Award recipient considered certain to be voted into the Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible in 2015. Roy Halladay won two Cy Young Awards and was named to eight All-Star teams. David Cone won the Cy Young once and was named to five All-Star teams. Three other perfect-game throwers, Dennis Martínez, Kenny Rogers, and David Wells, each won over 200 major league games. Mark Buehrle has been an All-Star four times in his 13 major league seasons through 2012. Matt Cain is a three-time All-Star, two-time World Series champion, and has finished in the top ten of the Cy Young voting twice. Félix Hernández has also been a Cy Young Award winner and a three-time All-Star. For a few, the perfect game was the highlight of an otherwise unremarkable career. Mike Witt and Tom Browning were solid major league pitchers; Browning was a one-time all-star with a career record of 123-90 in 12 seasons, while Witt was a two-time all-star, going 117-116 in 12 seasons. Larsen, Charlie Robertson, and Len Barker were journeyman pitchers; each finished his major-league career with a losing record. Dallas Braden retired with a losing record after five seasons due to a shoulder injury. Philip Humber had never before thrown so much as a complete game prior to his perfect game, and his 16 career wins through the 2013 season are less than a third of any other perfect game pitcher's total aside from Braden.

Major League Baseball perfect games[edit]

19th century[edit]

Pitcher Date Game
Lee Richmond (Wor)
   LHP, 23
   5 K
June 12, 1880
John Montgomery Ward (Prov)
   RHP, 20
   5 K
June 17, 1880

Lee Richmond[edit]

Scorecard for Richmond's perfect game: "R-A" notation in fifth inning represents the 9–3 putout

Richmond was pitching in his first full season in the big leagues after appearing in one game in 1879. He was apparently considered a good hitter, as he batted second in the lineup. His perfect game featured an unusual 9–3 putout, with Worcester right fielder Lon Knight throwing out Cleveland's Bill Phillips at first.[5] The play came on one of three balls Cleveland hit out of the infield.[6] Three outs were recorded on "foul bounds": balls caught after bouncing once in foul territory (the foul bound rule was eliminated three years later). A monument marks the site of the Worcester Agricultural Fairgrounds where the game took place, now part of the campus of Becker College.[7] The feat was recognized as unusual: a newspaper report described it as "the most wonderful game on record".[8][9]

John Montgomery Ward[edit]

Monte Ward threw his perfect game at the Grays' park in Providence, but Buffalo, by virtue of a coin toss, which was the custom under the rules at that time, was officially the "home" team, batting in the bottom of each inning. At the age of 20 years, 105 days, Ward is the youngest pitcher ever to throw a perfect game. He batted sixth in the lineup. Beginning in 1881, the year after his perfect game, Ward spent more time as a position player than a pitcher; in 1885, following an arm injury, he became a full-time infielder.[10] The five days between Ward's game and Richmond's is the shortest amount of time between major-league perfect games.

Modern era[edit]

Pitcher Date Game
Cy Young (BOS)
   RHP, 37
   8 K
May 5, 1904
Addie Joss (CLE)
   RHP, 28
   74 pitches, 3 K
October 2, 1908
Charlie Robertson (CHW)
   RHP, 26
   90 pitches, 6 K
April 30, 1922
Don Larsen (NYY)
   RHP, 27
   97 pitches, 7 K
October 8, 1956
Jim Bunning (PHI)
   RHP, 32
   90 pitches, 10 K
June 21, 1964
Sandy Koufax (LAD)
   LHP, 29
   113 pitches, 14 K
September 9, 1965
Catfish Hunter (OAK)
   RHP, 22
   107 pitches, 11 K
May 8, 1968
Len Barker (CLE)
   RHP, 25
   103 pitches, 11 K
May 15, 1981
Mike Witt (CAL)
   RHP, 24
   94 pitches, 10 K
September 30, 1984
Tom Browning (CIN)
   LHP, 28
   100 pitches, 7 K
September 16, 1988
Dennis Martínez (MON)
   RHP, 36
   95 pitches, 5 K
July 28, 1991
Kenny Rogers (TEX)
   LHP, 29
   98 pitches, 8 K
July 28, 1994
David Wells (NYY)
   LHP, 34
   120 pitches, 11 K
May 17, 1998
David Cone (NYY)
   RHP, 36
   88 pitches, 10 K
July 18, 1999
Randy Johnson (ARI)
   LHP, 40
   117 pitches, 13 K
May 18, 2004
Mark Buehrle (CHW)
   LHP, 30
   116 pitches, 6 K
July 23, 2009
Dallas Braden (OAK)
   LHP, 26
   109 pitches, 6 K
May 9, 2010
Roy Halladay (PHI)
   RHP, 33
   115 pitches, 11 K
May 29, 2010
Philip Humber (CHW)
   RHP, 29
   96 pitches, 9 K
April 21, 2012
Matt Cain (SF)
   RHP, 27
   125 pitches, 14 K
June 13, 2012
Félix Hernández (SEA)
   RHP, 26
   113 pitches, 12 K
August 15, 2012

Cy Young[edit]

Young's perfect game was part of a hitless streak of 24 or 25⅓ straight innings—depending on whether or not partial innings at either end of the streak are included. In either calculation, the streak remains a record. It was also part of a streak of 45 straight innings in which Young did not give up a run, which was then a record.[12]

Of the 20 perfect games for which pitch counts are available, Addie Joss's was the most efficient—74 pitches, fewer than three per batter.[13]

Addie Joss[edit]

Joss's was the most pressure-packed of any regular-season perfect game. With just four games left on their schedule, the Naps were locked in a tight three-way pennant race with the Tigers and the White Sox, that day's opponents. Joss's counterpart, the great Ed Walsh, struck out 15 and gave up just four scattered singles. The lone, unearned run scored as a result of a botched pickoff play and a wild pitch.[14] The Naps ended the day tied with the Tigers for first, with the White Sox two games back; the Tigers would ultimately win the league by a half game over the Naps. Joss would throw a second no-hitter against the White Sox in 1910, making him the only major league pitcher ever to throw two no-hitters against the same team.

Charlie Robertson[edit]

Robertson's perfect game was only his fifth appearance, and fourth start, in the big leagues. He finished his career with the fewest wins and lowest winning percentage (49–80, .380) of any perfect-game pitcher. The Tigers, led by player-manager Ty Cobb, accused Robertson of illegally doctoring the ball with oil or grease.[15] In terms of the opposing team's ability to get on base, this is statistically the most unlikely of perfectos: the 1922 Tigers had an on-base percentage (OBP) of .373.[16]

Don Larsen[edit]

Larsen didn't know he would pitch in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series until a few hours before gametime.[17] This was his second start of the Series; he'd lasted less than two innings in Game 2. In his perfect game, Larsen employed the style he had adopted in mid-season, working without a windup. Just one Dodgers batter—Pee Wee Reese, in the first inning—worked a three-ball count.[18] The Dodgers had the highest season winning percentage of any team ever to lose a perfect game: .604. The image of catcher Yogi Berra leaping into Larsen's arms after the final strike is one of the most famous in baseball history.[19] The 34 years between Robertson's feat and Larsen's is the longest gap between perfect games.

Jim Bunning[edit]

Bunning's perfect game, pitched on Father's Day, was the first in the National League since Ward's 84 years before. Defying the baseball superstition that holds one should not talk about a no-hitter in progress, Bunning spoke to his teammates about the perfect game as it developed to loosen them up and relieve the pressure.[20]

Sandy Koufax[edit]

Sandy Koufax's perfect game was the last of his four no-hitters, pitched in four consecutive seasons.

Koufax's perfect game was the first one pitched at night. It was nearly a double no-hitter, as Cubs pitcher Bob Hendley gave up only one hit, a bloop double to left-fielder Lou Johnson in the seventh inning that did not figure in the scoring. The Dodgers scored their only run in the fifth inning: Lou Johnson reached first on a walk, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, stole third, and scored when Cubs catcher Chris Krug overthrew third base on the play. The game also set records for the fewest number of hits by both teams, one, and the fewest number of base runners by both teams, two (both Johnson). Koufax's 14 strikeouts are tied with Matt Cain for the most ever thrown by a perfect game pitcher.

Catfish Hunter[edit]

Hunter, a talented batter, was also the hitting star of his perfect game. He went 3 for 4 with a double and 3 RBIs, including a bunt single that drove home the first and thus winning run in the seventh inning—easily the best offensive performance ever by a perfect game pitcher. This was the first no-hitter of the Athletics' Oakland tenure, which was only 25 games old. He was also the youngest pitcher ever to pitch a perfect game, at 22 years and 30 days old. [21]

Len Barker[edit]

Barker's perfect game was the first one in which designated hitters were used. He didn't reach a three-ball count in the entire game.[22] Toronto shortstop Alfredo Griffin, who played for the losing team in this game, went on to play for the losers in the perfect games of Browning and Martínez. Also on the losing end of this game was Danny Ainge, who would play 14 seasons in the National Basketball Association. All 11 of Barker's strikeouts were swinging.[23]

Mike Witt[edit]

Witt's perfect game came on the last day of the 1984 season. Reggie Jackson, who drove in the only run of the game on a seventh-inning fielder's choice ground ball, was also on the winning team in Hunter's perfect game. On April 11, 1990, Witt, pitching out of the bullpen, combined with starting pitcher Mark Langston to throw a no-hitter for the California Angels.

Tom Browning[edit]

Browning's perfect game came against the team that eventually won that year's World Series, the only time that has happened. A two-hour, twenty-seven-minute rain delay[24] caused the game to start at approximately 10 PM. Right fielder Paul O'Neill, who played for the winning side in this game, also played for the winning side in the perfect games of Wells and Cone. The following July 4, Browning came within an inning of becoming the first pitcher to throw two perfect games, retiring the first 24 batters in a game against the Phillies before surrendering a leadoff double in the ninth.[25]

Dennis Martínez[edit]

Martínez, born in Granada, Nicaragua, was the first major league pitcher born outside of the United States to throw a perfect game. Martínez reached only one three-ball count.[26] Opposing pitcher Mike Morgan was perfect through five full innings, the latest the opposing starter in a perfect game has remained perfect. Two days earlier, Expos pitcher Mark Gardner no-hit the Dodgers through nine innings but lost the no-hitter in the tenth, meaning the Expos narrowly missed throwing a no-hitter and a perfect game in the same series. Martínez's catcher, Ron Hassey, had also caught Len Barker's perfect game. This was the third perfect game pitched against the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, joining those of Larsen and Browning; the only other teams to lose more than one perfect game are the Twins (Hunter and Wells) and the Rays (Buehrle, Hernandez and Braden).

Kenny Rogers[edit]

Rogers benefited from center fielder Rusty Greer's fantastic diving catch of a line drive hit by Rex Hudler, leading off the ninth inning.[27] Rogers' performance against the Angels came 10 seasons after Witt's perfect game against the Rangers. The Angels and Rangers are the only major league teams to record perfect games against each other.

The home plate umpire was a minor league fill-in, Ed Bean, who was working his 29th Major League game and seventh behind the plate. Bean, who was substituting for 17-year veteran Ken Kaiser, worked only seven more MLB games following Rogers' performance.

David Wells[edit]

Wells attended the same high school as Don Larsen: Point Loma High School, San Diego, California. They also both enjoyed the night life. Casey Stengel once said of Larsen, "The only thing he fears is sleep." Wells has claimed to have been "half-drunk" and suffering from a "raging, skull-rattling hangover" during his perfect game.[28] Wells' perfect game comprised the core of a streak of 38 consecutive retired batters (May 12–23, 1998), an American League record he held until 2007.

David Cone[edit]

Cone's perfect game occurred on Yogi Berra Day. Don Larsen threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Berra, who had been his catcher during the 1956 World Series perfect game. As the game wore on, television cameras showed Larsen, the only perfect game pitcher to attend another perfect game. No Expo worked even a three-ball count.[29] Cone's perfect game, to date the only one in regular-season interleague play, was interrupted by a 33-minute rain delay. Following teammate Wells' perfect game the previous season, this also represents the only time two successive perfect games have been thrown by the same team. This was the third perfect game in Yankee history; the Indians (Joss and Barker), White Sox (Robertson, Buehrle, and Humber), A's (Hunter and Braden), and Phillies (Bunning and Halladay) are the other teams to have more than one perfect game.

In 2004, Randy Johnson, then with the Arizona Diamondbacks, became the oldest pitcher ever to throw a perfect game.

Randy Johnson[edit]

Johnson threw his perfect game at the age of 40 years, 256 days, becoming by more than three and a half years the oldest pitcher to achieve the feat. The former holder of the mark, Cy Young, threw his at the age of 37 years, 37 days. Johnson is also the tallest perfect game pitcher at 6' 10", surpassing Mike Witt by three inches. Of the 20 teams to have a perfect game thrown against them, the 2004 Braves have the second-highest OBP (.343) and are tied for the second-highest winning percentage (.593).[30] In contrast, the Diamondbacks had by far the worst season winning percentage (.315) of any team to benefit from a perfect game.[31]

Mark Buehrle[edit]

Buehrle was assisted by a dramatic ninth-inning wall-climbing catch by center fielder DeWayne Wise to rob Gabe Kapler of a home run; Wise had just entered the game as a defensive replacement before Kapler's at-bat. This was the first major league perfect game in which the pitcher and catcher were battery-mates for the first time; Ramón Castro had been acquired by the White Sox less than two months before.[32] This was also the first perfect game to feature a grand slam, by Josh Fields in the bottom of the second inning. Umpire Eric Cooper, who called the game, had been behind the plate for Buehrle's previous no-hitter.[33] On July 28, Buehrle followed up with another 5 2/3 perfect innings to set the major league record for consecutive batters retired at 45 (this includes the final batter he faced in his appearance before the perfect game).[34]

Dallas Braden[edit]

Braden's perfect game, pitched on Mother's Day, was the first complete game of his career. It was the first time a perfect game has been pitched against the team with the best record in the majors at the time; coming into the contest, the Rays were 22–8.[35] The 2010 Rays are tied for the second-highest winning percentage (.593) of any team to be on the receiving end of a perfect game.[36] MLB's previous perfect game had also been thrown against the Rays, making them the second team to have successive perfect games against them (the first was the Dodgers in 1988 and 1991).[37] This game came 290 days after Buehrle's, the shortest period between modern-day perfect games -- a number which would last just three weeks until Halladay's.

Roy Halladay[edit]

Halladay pitched the second perfect game of the 2010 season 20 days after Braden's, the shortest period between perfect games in the modern era.[38] Mark Buehrle's perfect game had been 10 month earlier, marking the first time that three perfect games occurred within a one-year span. Seven batters reached three-ball counts against Halladay.[39] He went on to pitch a no-hitter in Game 1 of the Phillies' 2010 NL Division Series against the Cincinnati Reds, becoming the only perfect game pitcher to throw another no-hitter in the same season, and the fifth with two no-hitters. Halladay is the second pitcher to throw a perfect game and win the Cy Young Award in the same season; Sandy Koufax did so in 1965.[40]

Philip Humber[edit]

On April 21, 2012, Philip Humber of the Chicago White Sox pitched the third perfect game in White Sox history. The final out of Humber's perfect game came after a full-count check-swing third strike to Brendan Ryan on a ball that catcher A.J. Pierzynski dropped. As Ryan disputed umpire Brian Runge's decision that he had swung, Pierzynski threw the ball to first base for the final out.[41] As with Braden, Humber's perfect game was the first complete game of his career.[42] The White Sox became the second franchise with three perfect games, joining the Yankees.

Matt Cain[edit]

On June 13, 2012, Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants pitched the first perfect game in Giants franchise history, the second of 2012, and the 22nd in MLB history. Joaquín Árias threw out Jason Castro for the final out on a 1-2 ground ball. Buster Posey was the catcher. Cain tallied 14 strikeouts, tying Sandy Koufax for the most strikeouts in a perfect game. Cain was aided by a running catch at the wall by Melky Cabrera in the 6th and a diving catch by Gregor Blanco in the 7th. The winning Giants scored 10 runs, making this the highest scoring perfect game.

Félix Hernández[edit]

On August 15, 2012, Félix Hernández of the Seattle Mariners threw the 23rd perfect game in MLB history (and the first in August) against the Tampa Bay Rays. This was the first perfect game in Mariners history, and the franchise's fourth no-hitter.[43] Hernandez's performance was highlighted by 12 strikeouts and a career-high 26 swinging-strikes. In an on-field interview immediately following the last out, Hernandez said he'd started thinking about the possibility of a perfect game in the second inning. It was the third time in the last four seasons that Tampa Bay was the losing side of a perfect game. Four Rays—Evan Longoria, Carlos Peña, B.J. Upton and Ben Zobrist—joined Alfredo Griffin in having played in three perfect games for the losing team; all four players participated in Buehrle's and Braden's.

General notes[edit]

Three perfect-game pitchers had RBIs in their games: Hunter (3), Bunning (2), and Young (1). Hunter had three hits; Richmond, Ward, Bunning, Martínez, and Cain each had one. Cain is the only pitcher to score a run during a perfect game (Gregor Blanco followed him in the order and hit a home run). Barker, Witt, Rogers, Wells, Cone, Buehrle, Braden, Humber, and Hernández did not bat in their perfect games, as the American League adopted the designated hitter rule in 1973. The latest the winning runs have been scored in a perfect game is the seventh inning—this occurred in the games of Hunter (bottom), Witt (top), and Martínez (top).

Seven perfect-game pitchers have also thrown at least one additional no-hitter: Young, Joss, Bunning, Koufax, Johnson, Buehrle, and Halladay. Witt participated in a combined no-hitter. Koufax has the most total no-hitters of any perfect-game pitcher, with four. Richmond and Robertson were rookies, though each had made a single appearance in a previous season. Although by the latter part of the 20th century, major league games were being played predominantly at night, six of the last ten perfect games, and four of the last six, have taken place in the daytime. Since 1973, nine perfect games have been thrown with the DH rule in effect (including one interleague game held at an American League park) and only five without it. Of the thirty teams that currently make up Major League Baseball, seven have never been involved in a perfect game, win or lose: the Cardinals, Pirates, Orioles, Royals, Brewers, Padres, and Rockies.

Unofficial perfect games[edit]

Boston Red Sox pitchers Babe Ruth and Ernie Shore. In a 1917 game, Ruth was ejected after walking the first batter. Shore replaced him, erased the baserunner, and completed the game without allowing another.

There have been three instances in which a major league pitcher retired every player he faced over nine innings without allowing a baserunner, but, by the current definition, is not credited with a perfect game, either because there was already a baserunner when he took the mound, or because the game went into extra innings and an opposing player eventually reached base:

  • On June 23, 1917, Babe Ruth, then a pitcher with the Boston Red Sox, walked the Washington Senators' first batter, Ray Morgan, on four straight pitches. Ruth, who had already been shouting at umpire Brick Owens about the quality of his calls, became even angrier and, in short order, was ejected. Enraged, Ruth charged Owens, swung at him, and had to be led off the field by a policeman. Ernie Shore came in to replace Ruth, while catcher Sam Agnew took over behind the plate for Pinch Thomas. Morgan was caught stealing by Agnew on the first pitch by Shore, who proceeded to retire the next 26 batters. All 27 outs were made while Shore was on the mound. Once recognized as a perfect game by Major League Baseball, this still counts as a combined no-hitter.[44][45]
  • On May 26, 1959, Harvey Haddix of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitched what is often referred to as the greatest game in baseball history.[46] Haddix carried a perfect game through an unprecedented 12 innings against the Milwaukee Braves, only to have it ruined when an error by third baseman Don Hoak allowed Felix Mantilla, the leadoff batter in the bottom of the 13th inning, to reach base. A sacrifice by Eddie Mathews and an intentional walk to Hank Aaron followed; the next batter, Joe Adcock, hit a home run that became a double when he passed Aaron on the bases. Haddix and the Pirates had lost the game 1–0; despite their 12 hits in the game, they could not bring a run home. The 12 perfect innings—36 consecutive batters retired in a single game—remains a record.[47]
  • On June 3, 1995, Pedro Martínez of the Montreal Expos had a perfect game through nine innings against the San Diego Padres. The Expos scored a run in the top of the tenth inning, but in the bottom, Martínez gave up a leadoff double to Bip Roberts, and was relieved by Mel Rojas, who retired the next three batters. Martínez was therefore the winning pitcher in a 1–0 Expos victory.[48]

Four other games in which one team failed to reach base are not official perfect games because they were called off before nine innings were played:[49]

  • On August 11, 1907, Ed Karger of the St. Louis Cardinals pitched seven perfect innings against the Boston Braves; second game of doubleheader called by prior agreement.[49][50]
  • On October 5, 1907, Rube Vickers of the Philadelphia Athletics pitched five perfect innings against the Senators; second game of doubleheader called on account of darkness. Vickers achieved his feat on the last day of the season. He also pitched the final 12 innings of the 15-inning first game.[50] His back-to-back victories were his only wins of the year.[51]
  • On August 6, 1967, Dean Chance of the Minnesota Twins pitched five perfect innings against the Red Sox; game called on account of rain.[50]
  • On April 21, 1984, David Palmer of the Expos pitched five perfect innings against the Cardinals; second game of doubleheader called on account of rain.[52]

On March 14, 2000, in a spring training game—by definition unofficial—the Red Sox used six pitchers to retire all 27 Toronto Blue Jays batters in a 5–0 victory. The starting pitcher for the Red Sox was Pedro Martínez (see above).[53]

Perfect games spoiled by the 27th batter[edit]

On twelve occasions in Major League Baseball history, a perfect game has been spoiled when the batter representing what would have been the third and final out in the ninth inning reached base. Unless otherwise noted, the pitcher in question finished and won the game without allowing any more baserunners:[54]

  • On July 4, 1908, Hooks Wiltse of the New York Giants hit Philadelphia Phillies pitcher George McQuillan on a 2–2 count in a scoreless game—the only time a 0–0 perfect game has been broken up by the 27th batter. Umpire Cy Rigler later admitted that he should have called the previous pitch strike 3. Wiltse pitched on, winning 1–0; his ten-inning no-hitter set a record for longest complete game no-hitter that has been tied twice but never broken.[55]
  • On August 5, 1932, Tommy Bridges of the Detroit Tigers gave up a pinch-hit single to the Washington Senators' Dave Harris.[56]
  • On June 27, 1958, Billy Pierce of the Chicago White Sox gave up a double, which landed just inches in fair territory, on his first pitch to Senators pinch hitter Ed Fitz Gerald.[57]
  • On September 2, 1972, Milt Pappas of the Chicago Cubs walked San Diego Padres pinch hitter Larry Stahl on a borderline 3–2 pitch. Pappas finished with a no-hitter. The umpire, Bruce Froemming, was in his second year; he went on to a 37-year career in which he umpired a record 11 no-hitters. Pappas believed he had struck out Stahl, and years later continued to bear ill will toward Froemming.[58]
  • On April 15, 1983, Milt Wilcox of the Tigers surrendered a pinch-hit single to the White Sox' Jerry Hairston, Sr.[59]
  • On May 2, 1988, Ron Robinson of the Cincinnati Reds gave up a single to the Montreal Expos' Wallace Johnson. Robinson then allowed a two-run homer to Tim Raines and was removed from the game. The final score was 3–2, with Robinson the winner.[60] (Robinson's teammate Tom Browning threw his perfect game later that season.)
  • On August 4, 1989, Dave Stieb of the Toronto Blue Jays gave up a double to the New York Yankees' Roberto Kelly, followed by an RBI single by Steve Sax. Stieb finished with a 2–1 victory.[61] This was the third time Stieb had a no-hitter broken up with two outs in the ninth inning.[62]
  • On April 20, 1990, Brian Holman of the Seattle Mariners gave up a home run to Ken Phelps of the Oakland Athletics.[63][64]
  • On September 2, 2001, Mike Mussina of the Yankees gave up a two-strike single to Boston Red Sox pinch hitter Carl Everett. The opposing pitcher in the game was David Cone, who had thrown the most recent perfect game two years earlier as a Yankee.[65]
  • On June 2, 2010, Armando Galarraga of the Tigers was charged with a single when first-base umpire Jim Joyce incorrectly ruled Jason Donald of the Cleveland Indians safe on an infield grounder. After the game, Joyce acknowledged his mistake: "I just cost that kid a perfect game. I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay."[66] Tyler Kepner of the New York Times wrote that no call had been "so important and so horribly botched" since the 1985 World Series.[67] Galarraga retired the next batter as Donald advanced to third base via defensive indifference.[68] Having taken place just four days after Halladay's feat, the game would have set a new mark for proximity had it been perfect; it would also have been the third perfect game in a 25-day span. Donald was awarded first base on Galarraga's 83rd pitch, which would have made it the second most efficient perfect game on record.
  • On April 2, 2013, Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers gave up a first pitch single to Marwin González of the Astros on a ground ball between Darvish's legs and through the middle infield. Darvish was removed from the game without facing another batter, having thrown 111 pitches. With 14 strikeouts through the first 26 batters, Darvish had a chance to tie (or exceed, had he struck out González) a record for a perfect game. The Rangers would go on to win the game 7-0.
  • On September 6, 2013, Yusmeiro Petit of the San Francisco Giants retired the first 26 Arizona Diamondbacks batters before giving up a single to pinch hitter Eric Chávez. Giants right fielder Hunter Pence dove for the ball but came up just a couple of inches short. Petit retired the next batter to finish the one-hit shutout.

Other notable near-perfect games[edit]

Nine or more consecutive innings of perfection[edit]

There have been thirteen occasions in Major League Baseball history when a pitcher—or, in one case, multiple pitchers—recorded at least 27 consecutive outs after one or more runners reached base. In four instances, the game went into extra innings and the pitcher(s) recorded more than 27 consecutive outs:

  • On May 11, 1919, Walter Johnson, pitching for the Senators against the Yankees, retired 28 batters in row: After surrendering a one-out single in the first to Roger Peckinpaugh and then retiring the next two batters to end the inning, he was perfect in the second through the ninth. He recorded two outs in the tenth, before giving up a walk to Home Run Baker. The first Sunday game to be played legally in New York, it was ended after the 12th inning, still scoreless, because Yankee owner Jacob Ruppert mistakenly believed the new law barred play after 6 PM.[69]
  • On September 24, 1919, Waite Hoyt, pitching for the Red Sox against the Yankees in the second game of a doubleheader, gave up a run in the second inning. The Red Sox tied the game in the ninth on a solo home run by Babe Ruth, his then record-breaking 28th of the season. The game report in the New York Times states, "Hoyt gave a remarkable performance of his pitching skill, and from the fourth inning to the thirteenth he did not allow a hit and not a Yankee runner reached first base. In these nine hitless innings the youngster was at the top of his form". The Yankees eventually won 2–1 when, in the 13th, Wally Pipp tripled and was brought home by a sacrifice fly. (The New York Times report states that Pipp tripled with "two out"—evidently a typographical or counting error, as the subsequent sacrifice fly, which is described in detail, would not then have been possible.)[70] Play-by-play records are not currently available for the game, but it appears that Hoyt recorded no less than 28 consecutive outs—the last out in the third inning and 27 in the perfect nine innings encompassing the fourth through the 12th.[71]
  • On September 18, 1971, Rick Wise, pitching for the Phillies against the Cubs, gave up a home run to the leadoff batter in the second inning, Frank Fernandez. He did not allow another baserunner until Ron Santo singled with two outs in the top of the 12th. Wise retired the next batter and the Phillies scored in the bottom of the inning, making him the winner, 4–3. Wise had been perfect for 10 2/3, retiring 32 consecutive batters—the record for most consecutive outs in a game by a winning pitcher. At the plate, Wise helped his cause by going 3 for 6, with a double and the game-winning RBI in the bottom of the 12th. The starting pitcher for the Cubs was Milt Pappas, who would have his near-perfect game one year later.[72]
  • On July 6, 2005, A.J. Burnett, then pitching for the Florida Marlins, surrendered a two-out single in the third inning that gave the Milwaukee Brewers a 4–1 lead. It was the fourth hit he had given up, on top of five walks. He then retired the next ten batters before leaving the game with the Marlins trailing 4–2. In his six innings, he struck out 14. Jim Mecir pitched a perfect seventh and Guillermo Mota pitched a perfect eighth and ninth as the Marlins rallied to send the game into extra innings. Todd Jones was perfect in the 10th and 11th and Valerio de los Santos picked up the win with a perfect 12th, for a total of 28 straight batters retired starting with the final batter of the third inning.[73]
Cy Young, first perfect game pitcher of the modern era. His 1908 no-hitter was a solo version of the Ruth–Shore game of 1917: a leadoff walk, a caught stealing, and perfection the rest of the way.

In the eleven other instances, the leadoff batter (or batters) reached base in the first inning, followed by 27 consecutive batters (or batters and baserunners) being retired through the end of a nine-inning game.[74] In one case, the leadoff baserunner was retired, meaning the pitcher faced the minimum:

  • On June 30, 1908, Red Sox pitcher Cy Young walked the New York Highlanders' leadoff batter, Harry Niles, who was caught stealing. No one else reached base against Young, who also had three hits and four RBIs in Boston's 8–0 win. It was the third no-hitter of Young's career and about as close as possible to being his second perfect game.[75] He is the only pitcher in major league history to retire 27 consecutive men in a game on two separate occasions.

The remaining instances in which a pitcher recorded 27 consecutive outs in a game, noting how the opponent's leadoff batter (or batters) reached base:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nemec (2006), pp. 21–22, 85, 123.
  2. ^ Dickson (2009), p. 415.
  3. ^ "Baseball Rules Chronology 1845–1899". BaseballLibrary.com. Retrieved August 20, 2007. 
  4. ^ "Baseball Rules Chronology 1900–Present". BaseballLibrary.com. Retrieved November 28, 2010. 
  5. ^ Akin, William (2003). "Bill Phillips". SABR Baseball Biography Project. Retrieved August 20, 2007. 
  6. ^ Hanlon (1968).
  7. ^ "Becker College: History". Becker College. Retrieved June 1, 2009. 
  8. ^ Egan (2008), pp. 100, 295 n. 6, quotes the line within a longer passage quoted from the Cleveland Leader, June 14, 1880. Buckley (2002), p. 14, credits the Chicago Tribune with the line. Deutsch (1975), p. 14, presents a clipping from the New York Herald with the line.
  9. ^ Okrent and Wulf (1989), pp. 14–15, describe a story that later emerged that Richmond hurled his historic perfecto after staying up all night following a pregraduation dinner at Brown University, pitching in an early morning class game, and taking a train to Worcester just in time to perform his professional duties. The BaseballLibrary.com entry on Richmond claims that a similar sequence of events preceded not his perfect game, but a game he pitched against the Chicago White Stockings on June 16. Egan (2008), p. 101, debunks the tale.
  10. ^ Buckley (2002), p. 27.
  11. ^ "Charlie Robertson Perfect Game Box Score". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved May 10, 2010. 
  12. ^ Browning (2003), pp. 145, 248.
  13. ^ Coffey (2004), p. 28.
  14. ^ Anderson (2000), pp. 185–186. BaseballLibrary.com claims it was a passed ball.
  15. ^ Buckley (2005), pp. 58, 61–64.
  16. ^ 1922 American League Season Summary. Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved on September 16, 2010. See Coffey (2004), p. 43, for an analysis of Detroit's relatively desultory hitting at the point in the season when the game was played.
  17. ^ Buckley (2002), pp. 73–74.
  18. ^ Kennedy (1996).
  19. ^ Lupica (1999), p. 51.
  20. ^ Buckley (2002), p. vi.
  21. ^ 1968 Oakland Athletics Game Log. Retrosheet. Retrieved on July 26, 2009.
  22. ^ Newman (1981).
  23. ^ Buckley (2002), p. 141.
  24. ^ Buckley (2002), p. 169.
  25. ^ "100 Most Memorable Reds Moments of the 20th Century". Cincinnati Enquirer. 1999. Retrieved June 3, 2010.  Box score: July 4, 1989—Cincinnati Reds at Philadelphia Phillies Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved on June 3, 2010.
  26. ^ Buckley (2002), p. 189.
  27. ^ Nightengale, Bob (July 29, 1994). "The Pitcher Is Perfect, but Greer Gets the Save". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 7, 2009.  Richards, Charles (July 29, 1994). "Rogers Fires Perfect Game For Rangers; Diving Grab in 9th Saves Gem". Washington Post. Retrieved August 7, 2009. 
  28. ^ "Wells Claims "25 to 40 Percent" of Players Use Steroids". ESPN/Associated Press. February 27, 2003. Retrieved March 6, 2009. 
  29. ^ Gallagher (2003), p. 431.
  30. ^ The OBP of the 2009 Rays, against which Buehrle later threw his perfect game, also rounds to .343.2004 Atlanta Braves Batting, Pitching, & Fielding Statistics. Baseball-Reference.com. 2009 Tampa Bay Rays Batting, Pitching, & Fielding Statistics. Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved on July 1, 2011.
  31. ^ 2004 National League Season Summary. Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved on July 26, 2009.
  32. ^ Schlegel, John (July 24, 2009). "For Buehrle, a Perfect Day for History". MLB.com. Retrieved July 24, 2009. 
  33. ^ Just, David (July 23, 2009). "Same Ump Called Both Buehrle No-Nos". MLB.com. Retrieved July 24, 2009. 
  34. ^ "Buehrle Breaks Record". ESPN.com. July 29, 2009. Retrieved July 29, 2009. 
  35. ^ "Standings and Games on Saturday, May 8, 2010". Baseball-Reference.com. May 8, 2010. Retrieved May 9, 2010. 
  36. ^ 2010 American League Season Summary. Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved on October 6, 2010.
  37. ^ "Braden's Perfect Game 19th Ever and Second Straight Against Rays". Associated Press/ESPN.com. May 9, 2010. Retrieved May 9, 2010. 
  38. ^ "Perfect Phillie: Halladay Pitches Perfect Game". MSNBC. May 29, 2010. Retrieved May 29, 2010. 
  39. ^ "Halladay's Perfect Game Is This Season's Second". ESPN/Associated Press. May 29, 2010. Retrieved May 29, 2010. 
  40. ^ "Second Cy Young Boosts Halladay's Hall of Fame Credentials". Sports Illustrated. November 16, 2010. Retrieved November 26, 2010. 
  41. ^ Phil Humber Completes Perfect Game, MLB.com. April 21, 2012. Caple, Jim. (April 22, 2012).
  42. ^ [1], Powers, Scott (April 21, 2012). ESPN.com. Retrieved April 22, 2012.
  43. ^ "Felix Hernandez pitches perfect game". USA Today. August 15, 2012. 
  44. ^ Vass (2002).
  45. ^ Ernie Shore hastily relieves and Sam Agnew takes over behind the plate for Pinch Thomas Baseball Library. Retrieved on May 6, 2011.
  46. ^ See, e.g., Chen (2009); Reisler (2007), p. 57; Thielman (2005), p. 169; Sullivan (2002), p. 139.
  47. ^ Boxscore—Game Played on Tuesday, May 26, 1959 (N) at County Stadium Retrosheet. Retrieved on July 21, 2008.
  48. ^ Boxscore—Game Played on Saturday, June 3, 1995 (N) at Jack Murphy Stadium Retrosheet. Retrieved on June 6, 2009.
  49. ^ a b Robbins (2004), p. 242.
  50. ^ a b c Rothe, Emil H. The Shortened No-Hitters Baseball Research Journal. SABR. Retrieved on June 6, 2009.
  51. ^ Zingg and Medeiros (1994), p. 27.
  52. ^ Boxscore—Game Played on Saturday, April 21, 1984 (N) at Busch Stadium II Retrosheet. Retrieved on June 6, 2009.
  53. ^ Pedro Martinez: Perfect Game—Spring Training 1918RedSox.com. Retrieved on June 6, 2009.
  54. ^ Holtzman (2003). Holtzman's article was published before the near-perfect game by Armando Galarraga. Note that Coffey (2004) gives incorrect years for the near-perfect games of Wiltse, Stieb, Holman, and Mussina (p. 279).
  55. ^ Nemec (2006), pp. 86–87; Simon (2004), p. 54; "No Hitter Records". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved August 20, 2007.  Vass (1998) notes that this is one of only three otherwise perfect games where the sole lapse was a hit batsman. The pitchers in the two other cases were Lew Burdette (August 18, 1960; fifth inning) and Kevin Brown (June 10, 1997; eighth inning).
  56. ^ Deveaux (2001), p. 111; James (2003), p. 891.
  57. ^ Boxscore—Game Played on Friday, June 27, 1958 (N) at Comiskey Park I Retrosheet; Billy Pierce Interview Baseball Almanac. Retrieved on June 6, 2009.
  58. ^ Boxscore—Game Played on Saturday, September 2, 1972 (D) at Wrigley Field Retrosheet. Retrieved on June 6, 2009; Amspacher, Bruce (April 11, 2003). "What Really Happened? An Interview with Major League Pitching Great Milt Pappas". Professional Sports Authenticator. Retrieved August 20, 2007.  Weinbaum, William (September 20, 2007). "Froemming Draws Pappas' Ire, 35 Years Later". ESPN. Retrieved September 26, 2007. 
  59. ^ Boxscore—Game Played on Friday, April 15, 1983 (N) at Comiskey Park I Retrosheet. Retrieved on June 6, 2009.
  60. ^ Boxscore—Game Played on Monday, May 2, 1988 (N) at Riverfront Stadium Retrosheet. Retrieved on June 6, 2009.
  61. ^ Box score: August 4, 1989—New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved on May 14, 2009.
  62. ^ David Brown, August 9, 2010. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
  63. ^ Box score: April 20, 1990—Seattle Mariners at Oakland Athletics Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved on May 14, 2009.
  64. ^ Larry Stone (April 15, 2010). "Losing a perfect game was tough — but Brian Holman's been through tougher". Seattle Times. Retrieved October 7, 2011. 
  65. ^ Box score: September 2, 2001—New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved on May 14, 2009.
  66. ^ "Umpire: 'I Just Cost That Kid a Perfect Game'". ESPN/Associated Press. June 2, 2010. Retrieved June 2, 2010. 
  67. ^ Kepner, Tyler (June 2, 2010). "Pitcher Loses Perfect Game on Questionable Call". New York Times. Retrieved June 2, 2010. 
  68. ^ http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/y2010/index.jsp?gid=2010_06_02_clemlb_detmlb_1&mode=box
  69. ^ Deveaux (2001), p. 49; Washington Post, "The Game in Detail", May 12, 1919, p. 4.
  70. ^ New York Times, "Ruth Wallops Out His 28th Home Run", September 24, 1919, p. 23 (available online).
  71. ^ See, e.g., Cook (2004), p. 236.
  72. ^ Nowlin (2005), p. 69; Box score: September 18, 1971—Chicago Cubs at Philadelphia Phillies Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved on May 14, 2009.
  73. ^ Burnett K's 14 over Six Innings Associated Press via ESPN.com. Retrieved on August 13, 2010; Box score: July 6, 2005—Milwaukee Brewers at Florida Marlins Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved on 2011-07-27.
  74. ^ Arnold, Bill (July 14, 2006). "Beyond the Box Score—Almost Perfect". MLB.com. Retrieved May 11, 2009.  Arnold does not list Bosio's 1993 game, as his list is restricted to games in which only the leadoff man reached base before the next 27 batters were retired.
  75. ^ Elston (2006), pp. 173–174.
  76. ^ Charlton's Baseball Chronology—1884 (May) Baseball Library. Retrieved on May 11, 2009. Note that this was an American Association game; the National League had not yet instituted the rule awarding hit batsmen first base. Charlton's Baseball Chronology, the source for this game, incorrectly describes Monte Ward retiring 27 straight batters after the first singled in a game of July 23, 1880. In fact, he also walked a batter and another reached on an error. See Boston Globe, "Providence 5, Cincinnati 0", July 24, 1880, p. 4.
  77. ^ Boxscore—Game Played on Saturday, May 16, 1953 (D) at County Stadium Retrosheet. Retrieved on January 12, 2009.
  78. ^ Boxscore—Game Played on Thursday, May 13, 1954 (N) at Connie Mack Stadium Retrosheet. Retrieved on January 12, 2009.
  79. ^ Boxscore—Game Played on Friday, July 1, 1966 (N) at Shea Stadium Retrosheet. Retrieved on January 12, 2009.
  80. ^ Boxscore—Game Played on Tuesday, May 19, 1981 (N) at Three Rivers Stadium Retrosheet. Retrieved on January 12, 2009.
  81. ^ Boxscore—Game Played on Friday, June 11, 1982 (N) at Dodger Stadium Retrosheet. Retrieved on May 11, 2009.
  82. ^ Boxscore—Game Played on Thursday, April 22, 1993 (N) at Kingdome Retrosheet. Retrieved on January 12, 2009.
  83. ^ Boxscore—Game Played on Friday, July 7, 2006 (N) at Network Associates Coliseum Retrosheet. Retrieved on November 21, 2007.
  84. ^ Boxscore—Game Played on Friday, May 10, 2013 at Busch Stadium ESPN. Retrieved on May 10, 2013.