Baseball fans recently witnessed the amazing performance of New York Yankees starter Domingo German, throwing Major League Baseball’s 24th perfect game. For the Yankees, this is their fourth perfect game in franchise history, the most of any MLB club. Don Larsen in 1956 (in the World Series), David Wells in 1998 and David Cone a year later.
Let’s look back at some of the other perfect games in MLB history and see if we find some interesting notes.
• Lee Richmond was the first, way back in 1880. He pitched for what might be my favorite team name of all time: The Ruby Legs. Those socks must have been a sight to see. It featured a 9-3 putout (The right fielder throwing out a runner at first), another rarity.
• John Montgomery Ward threw the second just five days later. He was the youngest at 20 years old. Talk about a career-making highlight!
• After that, you see a couple of names you’ll recognize: Cy Young and Addie Joss. Another one happened in 1922, then nothing until Larsen’s gem in ’56.
• The 1960s had three (Jim Bunning, Sandy Koufax, Catfish Hunter) but the 1970s didn’t have any.
• The 1980s followed up with three of its own (Len Barker, Mike Witt and Tom Browning), but the 1990s had four, starting with Dennis Martinez. In fact, the catcher for that game (Ron Hassey) is the only catcher to catch two perfect games. I find that truly amazing. The other three were thrown by Kenny Rogers, and the before-mentioned Wells and Cone. To me, it’s striking that the 90s, which has always been known as an offensive decade, had four perfect games.
• Randy Johnson started the next century in fine fashion, throwing his in 2004. Mark Buehrle’s might be more well known for the catch made to preserve it than the actual perfect game! If you have never seen that catch, you have to see it. Under the circumstances, this catch should go down as one of the best in MLB history.
• Dallas Braden, who won a total of 26 games in his career, threw the next one. Guess who was the umpire at second base? Jim Joyce. I think he’s lucky he wasn’t at first (if you know, you know the heartbreaking tale).
• Roy Halliday did it again 20 days later. Halliday also threw a traditional no hitter in the 2010 NLDS … only the second pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the playoffs. It was a great year for a great pitcher.
• 2012 starts getting weird. Phillip Humber, who only had 16 career wins and a win loss percentage of under .500, throws one, with a very strange out to end it. It was a nail-biter. I saw it on TV recently and even though I knew the outcome, it still had me on the edge of my seat.
• A couple of months later, Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants threw his. In fact, he is tied with Sandy Koufax for the most strikeouts in a perfect game (14). Use that one in your next trivia night.
• King Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners then throws yet another one a couple of months later. That’s three in one year!
The perfect game gods then fell silent until June 28, when German took his place in history.