Perfection in Cooperstown
By Freddy Berowski
What a difference a year makes.
Last Mother’s Day, A’s pitcher Dallas Braden was hit with a line drive off the bat of Vernon Wells as part of a losing effort against the Toronto Blue Jays. But on Mother’s Day 2010, with his grandmother looking on from the stands, Dallas Braden pitched the 19th perfect game in big league history.
Mixing his slider and change-up with his mid-80′s fastball, Braden did to the Tampa Bay Rays what he usually does: Throw strikes. Perhaps the hardest hit ball of the day was Jason Bartlett’s line out to third leading off the game. By the fifth inning, the Rays were doing everything they could to try and get a man on, including their clean-up hitter, Evan Longoria who attempted to bunt his way on. But the powerful Rays lineup was silenced.
Braden’s feat marked the first time in history that a pitcher has thrown a perfect game against the team with the best record in the majors.
Already in Cooperstown from the perfect game are a game ball and the spikes Braden wore during his gem. These items will join Mark Buehrle’s jersey and the game ball from his perfect game last July 23, as well as other artifacts in the Hall of Fame’s collection relating to baseball’s greatest pitching feat.
There is no question that a pitcher with only 17 career victories has just as much chance of pitching a perfect game as anyone else in the big leagues. In fact, two players, Charlie Robertson of the White Sox and Lee Richmond of the Worcester Ruby Legs – the author of baseball’s first perfect game – had fewer major league wins at the time of their perfectos than Braden did. From Hall of Famers and All-Stars to journeyman and guys that didn’t really pan out, the roster of pitchers that have thrown perfect games has them all.
There have been approximately 391,300 games played in Major League history. Of these 391,300 games, only .0000485% have been perfect.
Freddy Berowski is a library associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.