Philip Humber threw a perfect game on Saturday April 21st, 2012. He joins a baseball brotherhood that spreads across 132 years. I don’t think I have much to add to describing Humber’s effort, it has been covered as extensively as it need be, its unlikeliness covered in-depth by Jayson Stark.
After hearing about the last out of the perfecto, it stuck out in my mind that A.J. Pierzynski recorded the last out of the game by throwing to first on a dropped third strike. Since Pierzynski has been the White Sox regular catcher for a few years now, I thought about Mark Buerhle’s perfect game in 2009, and how he might have been lucky enough to catch that one too. No luck, the immortal Ramon Castro was Buerhle’s receiver that day.
That thought spurred another about teammates and perfect games. The two Davids, Wells and Cone, had achieved perfection about a year apart for the New York Yankees. Were both games caught by the same man? Again, the answer is no. Wells threw to Jorge Posada, Cone delivered his pitches to Joe Girardi.
This is all leading up to the answer to a trivia question from back when I was a teenager. When I, neophyte baseball fan, was introduced to the concept of what a perfect game was, I went digging through my copy of Total Baseball (yes, this was before the internet, I am old), to find out as much as I could about them.
When I looked it all over, I found that no pitcher had ever thrown more than one. No plate umpire had ever called more than one. However, one catcher had, indeed, been there when lightning struck for a second time.
The man on the right, despite playing for the Cleveland Indians for almost 7 years, may well be the luckiest man in baseball history. He caught Len Barker in 1981 when he shut down the Blue Jays, and was behind the dish ten years later when Dennis Martinez silenced the Dodgers bats.
So, if you brought every catcher in MLB history into the room, it would be crowded indeed. Dismiss all the men who have never caught a no-hitter, and there are a few hundred in the room. Send away those who have never caught a perfect game, and there are but twenty souls remaining. Ask those who have caught but one perfect game to be on their way. The room has one man left in it.
Ron Hassey, the “perfect” journeyman.