A perfect game
is defined by Major League Baseball
as a game in
which a pitcher
(or combination of pitchers)
pitches a victory
that lasts a
minimum of nine innings
and in which
no opposing player reaches base
. Thus, the pitcher (or
pitchers) cannot allow any hits
, or any opposing player to reach base safely for any
other reason—in short, "27 up, 27 down". The feat has been achieved
only 18 times in the history of major league baseball
—16 times since the modern era began in
By definition, a perfect game must be both a no-hitter
and a shutout
Since the pitcher cannot control whether or not his teammates
commit any errors
, the pitcher must
be backed up by solid fielding
pitch a perfect game. An error that does not allow a baserunner,
such as a misplayed foul ball, does not spoil a perfect game.
Weather-shortened contests in which a team has no baserunners and
games in which a team reaches first base only in extra innings
do not qualify as official
perfect games under the present definition. The first confirmed use
of the term "perfect game" was in ; the current official definition
of the term was formalized in . Although it is possible for
multiple pitchers to combine for a perfect game (as has happened
nine times at the major league level for a no-hitter), to date,
every major league perfect game has been thrown by a single
Over the past 134 years of Major League Baseball history, there
have been only 18 official perfect games by the current definition.
In sum, a perfect game occurs once in about every 11,000 major
league contests. For comparison, more people have orbited the moon
than have pitched
a Major League Baseball perfect game. No pitcher has ever thrown
more than one. The perfect game thrown by Don
in game 5 of the 1956 World
is the only postseason
no-hitter in major league history.
The first two major league perfect games, and the only two of the
premodern era, were thrown in 1880, five days apart. The first to
accomplish the feat was Lee Richmond
left-handed pitcher for the Worcester Ruby Legs
. Richmond played
major-league baseball for only six years, finishing with a losing
record. The second perfect game was thrown by John Montgomery Ward
for the Providence Grays
. Ward, who made the
transition from excellent pitcher to excellent position player,
went on to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
During baseball's "modern era", defined by Major League Baseball as
beginning in 1900, sixteen more pitchers have thrown perfect games.
Most of the modern-era players to have thrown perfect games were
accomplished major league pitchers. 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 five-time Cy Young Award
winner considered certain to
be voted into the Hall of Fame when eligible. David Cone
also has a Cy Young Award to his name
and three other perfect-game throwers, Dennis Martínez
, Kenny Rogers
, and David Wells
, each won over 200 major league
games. Mark Buerhle
has been an
times in his ten major league seasons through 2009. For a few the
perfect game was the highlight of an otherwise unremarkable career.
were solid major league pitchers; each finished in the
top ten in Cy Young voting once. Larsen, Charlie Robertson
, and Len Barker
were journeyman pitchers; each
finished his major-league career with a losing record.
The term "perfect game" is at least as old as 1908. I. E. Sanborn's
report for the Chicago
about Joss's performance against the White Sox
calls it, "an absolutely perfect game, without run, without hit,
and without letting an opponent reach first base by hook or crook,
on hit, walk, or error, in nine innings." Several sources have
claimed (erroneously) that the first recorded usage of the term
"perfect game" was by Ernest J.
in his Baseball
, made in reference to Robertson's 1922 game. The
came close to the term in describing
Richmond's game in 1880: "Richmond was most effectively supported,
every position on the home nine being played to perfection."
Similarly, in writing up Ward's perfect game, the New York Clipper
"perfect play" of Providence's defense.
Major League Baseball perfect games
|Cy Young (BOS)
|May 5, 1904
74 pitches, 3 K
|October 2, 1908
90 pitches, 6 K
|April 30, 1922
97 pitches, 7 K
|October 8, 1956
90 pitches, 10 K
|June 21, 1964
113 pitches, 14 K
|September 9, 1965
107 pitches, 11 K
|May 8, 1968
103 pitches, 11 K
|May 15, 1981
|Mike Witt (CAL)
94 pitches, 10 K
|September 30, 1984
102 pitches, 7 K
|September 16, 1988
95 pitches, 5 K
|July 28, 1991
98 pitches, 8 K
|July 28, 1994
120 pitches, 11 K
|May 17, 1998
88 pitches, 10 K
|July 18, 1999
117 pitches, 13 K
|May 18, 2004
116 pitches, 6 K
|July 23, 2009
Richmond was pitching in his first full season in the big leagues
after appearing in one game in 1879. He was apparently also
considered a good hitter, as he batted second in the lineup and got
one of the three Worcester hits that day. Richmond's perfect game
featured an unusual 9-3 putout, with Worcester right fielder
throwing out Cleveland's
first. Knight's assist came on one of three balls Cleveland hit out
of the infield that day. According to some accounts, 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
Richmond pitched full-time for only three seasons. A
monument marks the site of the Worcester Agricultural
where Richmond threw his perfect game, now part of
the campus of Becker College
recognized the feat as unusual, calling it
"the most wonderful game on record".
John Montgomery Ward
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. Ward batted
sixth in the lineup and got one of the Grays' thirteen hits.
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 shortstop. Ward played the last ten
years of his career at shortstop and second base, compiling 2,104
Young's perfect game was part of a hitless innings streak (24 or 25
1/3 straight innings without a hit—depending on whether or not
partial innings at either end of the streak are included—which, in
either calculation, is still a record) and a scoreless innings
streak (45 straight innings without a run, which was then a
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
, 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. 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.
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. 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 OBP
Larsen didn't know he would pitch in Game 5 of the 1956 World
Series until a few hours before gametime. Larsen pitched in an
unusual style during his perfect game, working without a windup
. Just one Dodgers batter—Pee Wee Reese
, in the first inning—worked a
three-ball count. The Dodgers had the highest season winning
percentage of any team ever to surrender a perfect game: .604. The
34 years between Robertson and Larsen are the longest amount of
time between perfect games.
Bunning's game was the first perfect game in the National League
since Ward's 84 years before. Contrary to the baseball superstition
that holds one should not talk about a no-hitter in progress,
Bunning did just that, talking to his teammates about the perfect
game in progress to loosen them up and relieve the pressure.
Sandy Koufax's perfect
was the first one pitched at night. It was nearly a double
no-hitter: Cubs pitcher Bob Hendley
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, attempted a steal of third, and scored
when Cubs catcher Chris Krug
third base. The total number of base runners in the game—2—(both
Johnson) is the fewest in major league history.
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 hurler.
the first no-hitter of the Athletics' Oakland tenure, which was only 25 games old.
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. Toronto shortstop
, who played for the
losing team in this game, went on to play for the losers in the
perfect games of Browning and Martínez. All 11 of Barker's
strikeouts were swinging.
Witt's perfect game came on the last day of the 1984 season. After
transitioning to the bullpen, Witt combined with starting pitcher
to throw a no-hitter for
the California Angels
on April 11, 1990.
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 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.
born in Granada,
Nicaragua, is the only major league pitcher born outside of
the United States to throw a perfect game.
only one three-ball count. 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
Dodgers through nine innings but lost the no-hitter in the 10th,
meaning the Expos narrowly missed throwing a no-hitter and a
perfect game in the same series. Martínez's catcher, Ron Hassey
, 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 team to lose more than one perfect game is the Twins
(Hunter and Wells).
Rogers benefited from centerfielder Rusty
's fantastic diving catch of a line drive hit by Rex Hudler
, leading off the ninth inning.
Rogers's 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
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. Wells's perfect game comprised the core of
a streak, running from May 12
, to May 23
, of 38 consecutive retired batters, an American League
record he held until
Cone's perfect game occurred on Yogi
Day. Don Larsen threw out the ceremonial first pitch to
Berra, who had been his catcher during the 1956 World Series
perfect game. Not a single Expo worked even a three-ball count.
Cone's perfect game, to date the only one in regular-season
, was interrupted
by a 33-minute rain delay. This game came 1 year, 2 months, 1 day
after Wells's, the shortest period between modern-day perfect
games. 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) and White Sox
(Robertson and Buehrle) are the only other teams to have more than
one perfect game.
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. Of the 18 teams to have a
perfect game thrown against them, the 2004 Braves
second-highest winning percentage (.593). In contrast, the Diamondbacks
had by far the
worst season winning percentage (.315) of any team to benefit from
a perfect game.
Buehrle was assisted by a dramatic ninth-inning wall-climbing catch
by center fielder DeWayne Wise
of a home run. This was the
first major league perfect game in which the pitcher and catcher
-mates for the first
time; Ramón Castro
acquired by the White Sox less than two months before. 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
called the game, was behind the plate for Buehrle's previous
no-hitter, as well. On July 28, Buehrle followed up with another 5
2/3 innings of perfection to set the major league record for
consecutive batters retired at 45 (including the final batter he
faced in his last appearance before the perfect game).
Scorecard for Richmond's perfect
9-3 putout represented by "R-A" notation in fifth inning
Three perfect-game pitchers had RBIs in their games: Hunter (3),
Bunning (2), and Young (1). Hunter had three hits; Richmond, Ward,
Bunning, and Martínez each had one. No pitcher has ever scored a
run during his perfect game. Barker, Witt, Rogers, Wells, Cone, and
Buehrle 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
Six perfect-game pitchers have also thrown at least one additional
no-hitter: Young, Joss, Bunning, Koufax, Johnson, and Buehrle. 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, five
of the last eight perfect games have taken place in the daytime. Of
the thirty teams that currently make up Major League Baseball,
eleven have never been involved in a perfect game, win or lose: the
Giants, Cardinals, Pirates, Orioles, Royals, Mariners, Brewers,
Astros, Padres, Marlins, and Rockies.
Though convention has it that the modern era of Major League
Baseball begins in 1900, the essential rules of the modern game
were all 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). In 1889, the number of
balls required for a walk was reduced to four. Thus, from 1893 on,
pitchers sought perfection in a game whose most important rules are
the same as today, with one significant exception. That exception,
the use of the designated hitter
in American League
games since the
1973 season, might have been expected to make perfect games more
difficult to achieve in the AL. In fact, since 1973, six perfect
games have been thrown with the DH rule in effect (including one
held at an
American League park) and only three without it.
The current official Major League Baseball definition of a perfect
game is largely a side effect of the decision made by the major
leagues' Committee for Statistical Accuracy on September 4
redefine a no-hitter as a game in which the pitcher or pitchers on
one team throw a complete game of nine innings or more without
surrendering a hit. That decision removed a number of games that
had long appeared in the record books: those lasting fewer than
nine innings, and those in which a team went hitless in regulation
but then got a hit in extra innings. The definition of perfect game
was made to parallel this new definition of the no-hitter, in
effect substituting "baserunner" for "hit". As a result of the 1991
redefinition, for instance, Harvey
receives credit for neither a perfect game nor a
no-hitter for the game described below in which he threw 12 perfect
innings before allowing a baserunner in the 13th.
Unofficial perfect games
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. Morgan was
caught stealing by Sox catcher Pinch
Thomas 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.
- On May 26, 1959,
Harvey Haddix of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitched what is often
referred to as the greatest game in baseball history. 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
Matthews 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.
- 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
Four other "perfect games" are unofficial because the games were
called off before nine innings were played:
On March 14
, in a
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
Perfect games spoiled by the 27th batter
On nine 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:
- On July 4, , 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.
- On August 5, , Tommy Bridges of the Detroit Tigers gave up a pinch-hit single to
the Washington Senators' Dave Harris.
- On June 27, , 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
- On September 2, , 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.
- On April 15, , Milt Wilcox of the Tigers surrendered a
pinch-hit single to the White Sox' Jerry Hairston, Sr.
- On May 2, , 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. (Robinson's teammate Tom Browning threw his perfect game
later that season.)
- On August 4, , 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
- On April 20, , Brian Holman of the Seattle Mariners gave up a home run to
Ken Phelps of the Oakland Athletics.
- On September 2, , Mike Mussina of the Yankees gave up a
two-strike single to Boston Red Sox pinch hitter Carl Everett.
Other notable near-perfect games
Nine or more consecutive innings of perfection
There have been twelve occasions in Major League Baseball history
when a pitcher, after allowing one or more runners to reach base,
recorded at least 27 consecutive outs. In two cases, the game went
into extra innings, and the pitcher recorded more
- On September 24, 1919, Waite Hoyt, pitching
for the Red Sox against the Yankees in the second game of a
doubleheader, gave up three singles in a row in the second inning.
Hoyt retired the next three batters and did not allow another
baserunner until Wally Pipp tripled with
one out in the 13th inning of a 1-1 game. The next batter hit a
sacrifice fly, and Hoyt lost 2-1. Hoyt had been perfect for 11 1/3
innings, retiring 34 consecutive batters.
- 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.
In the ten 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. 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.
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:
- July 23, 1880, Monte
Ward/Providence Grays (single by
Cincinnati Red Stockings'
- May 24, 1884, Al
Alleghenys' Ed Swartwood hit by
pitch, stole second, reached third on a groundout, and scored on a
- May 16, 1953,
Curt Simmons/Philadelphia Phillies
(single by Milwaukee Braves' Bill
- May 13, 1954,
Roberts/Phillies (home run by Reds' Bobby Adams)
- July 1, 1966,
Woodie Fryman/Pittsburgh Pirates
(single by New York Mets' Ron Hunt)
- May 19, 1981,
Jim Bibby/Pirates (single by Atlanta Braves' Terry Harper)
- June 11, 1982,
Jerry Reuss/Los Angeles Dodgers (double by Reds'
Eddie Milner, who reached third on a
sacrifice bunt and scored on a fielder's choice)
- April 22, 1993,
Chris Bosio/Seattle Mariners (walks by
Red Sox Ernest Riles and Carlos Quintana, the latter of
whom was retired on a double play)
- July 7, 2006,
John Lackey/Los Angeles Angels (double by Oakland
Athletic Mark Kotsay)
Ward and Young are thus the only two men in major league history to
retire 27 consecutive men in a game on two separate
No-hit, no-walk, no–hit batsman games
In Major League Baseball play since 1893, with the essential modern
rules in place, there have been eight instances when a pitcher
allowed not a single baserunner due to his pitching efforts over a
complete game of at least nine innings, but was not awarded a
perfect game because of fielding errors:
- On June 13, 1905,
Christy Mathewson of the New York
Giants pitched masterfully, but two Cubs nonetheless reached base
on errors by shortstop Bill Dahlen and
second baseman Billy Gilbert. In a
classic pitching duel, the Cubs' Mordecai
"Three Finger" Brown also carried a no-hitter into the ninth,
losing it and the game, 1-0.
- On September 5, 1908, the Brooklyn
Dodgers' Nap Rucker blanked the
Boston Doves with a flawless pitching
performance, despite errors that allowed three Doves to reach base.
In more than a century since, no otherwise perfect game has been
spoiled by multiple errors.
- On July 1, 1920, an
error by Senators second baseman Bucky
Harris was the lone defect in what was otherwise a perfect game
by Walter Johnson. Harry Hooper, the Red Sox who reached base, was
batting leadoff in the seventh.
- On September 3, 1947, with one out in the second, Philadelphia
Athletics' first baseman Ferris Fain,
after fielding a routine grounder, threw wildly to pitcher Bill McCahan, covering first base. Stan Spence of the Senators made it all the way
to second, the only blemish on McCahan's otherwise perfect
- On July 19, 1974,
flawless through 3 2/3 innings, Cleveland Indians pitcher Dick Bosman, handling a grounder off the bat of
Oakland Athletic Sal Bando, threw over the
first baseman's head. Not one other Athletic would reach base,
making this the only occasion in major league history when the sole
demerit on an otherwise perfect defensive line was the pitcher's
own fielding error.
- On June 27, 1980,
Jerry Reuss of the Los Angeles Dodgers
pitched a virtually immaculate game, but without hope of
perfection—a first-inning throwing error by shortstop Bill Russell allowed the San Francisco Giants' Jack Clark to reach base. Russell
atoned for his gaffe with a sharp fielding play in the eighth
- On August 15, 1990, the Giants' Rick
Parker, batting leadoff in the seventh, reached base on a
throwing error by Phillies third baseman Charlie Hayes. Parker was retired when the
next batter, Dave
Anderson, grounded into a double play. Terry Mulholland pitched flawlessly
and faced the minimum 27—but, still, no perfect game.
Hayes is thought to have redeemed himself for the fielding error by
making a spectacular catch on a line drive in the ninth inning,
thereby protecting Mulholland's no-hitter.
- On July 10, 2009,
the Giants' Jonathan Sánchez
pitched perfectly against the San Diego Padres through one out in
the eighth inning. Third baseman Juan
Uribe, who switched positions from second base to start the
seventh inning, committed an error on a ground ball, his first
chance at third, that allowed Chase
Headley to reach first—the latest an error has resulted in the
sole baserunner in an otherwise perfect game. Headley advanced to
second on a wild pitch. It was the first complete game of Sánchez's
No otherwise perfect game in major league history has ever been
spoiled solely due to a third-strike passed
, third-strike wild pitch
, or an outfield
error. More than one online survey incorrectly lists the game
pitched by the Los Angeles Dodgers' Bill
against the Phillies on July 20
, as perfect aside from two throwing errors
by Singer; in fact, he also hit batter Oscar Gamble
in the first inning.
- Holtzman (2003), writing in June 2003, before Johnson's perfect
game, references Buckley (2002), although there are at least two
arithmetic errors. It is unclear where the dividing line is between
Buckley's facts and Holtzman's conclusions, but regardless of that,
the numbers do not work out. The total number of games sits at
388,382 as of July 24,
2009, which squares with an estimate of about 360,000 in
2002. Each game is a paired contest, so the total number
of games actually played is half that number, or about 180,000 as
of 2002. It appears that the author corrected that one figure but
failed to correct the arithmetic otherwise. 180,000 divided by 16
is more like 11,000 than 22,000. He also got the percent wrong. 1
divided by 22,000 is .0000454, or .00005 rounded. However,
expressed as percent ("per hundred"), it's .005, not .00005.
Correcting the error otherwise, 1 in 11,000 is more like .009
percent. The full quote in the cited article is: "According to
James Buckley, Jr., perfect games occur once every seven to eight
seasons. Buckley's Perfect, published last year, is an
analysis of the 16 perfectos and also includes perfect games broken
up with two outs in the ninth inning. Buckley estimates that since
the birth of the National League in , there have been about 180,000
games. A perfecto surfaces once in approximately 22,000 games or
.00005 percent. Don Larsen of the Yankees authored the only perfect
World Series game."
- Deutsch et al. (1975), p. 68. This source also includes an 1880
clipping from the New York Herald describing John
Richmond's perfect game for Worcester as "the most wonderful game
on record." A double error by Cleveland resulted in the lone run
scoring, and the writer described it as "the only lapse from
perfect play made by the Clevelands during the game"; the use of
the word "perfect" in this context refers only to defensive play, a
different meaning than its modern baseball sense, as Cleveland's
pitcher also surrendered three hits and a walk. See Deutsch et al.
(1975), p. 14. Writeups for the Ward perfect game of 1880 and the
Young game of 1904 describe the games as "wonderful" and other
effusive terms, but do not use the term "perfect game".
- Buckley (2002), p. 16, citing Paul Dickson, The Dickson
Baseball Dictionary (1989); Coffey (2004), p. 50. The
Baseball Cyclopedia reference came in a supplement to the
1922 edition of the book (a publication of Baseball
Magazine) and was worded thus: "Charles Robertson of Chicago
Americans pitched an absolutely perfect no-hit game against Detroit
on April 30, 1922, no one reaching first." The publication listed
all the perfect games to that point (a total of five, including
Robertson's) and used the term "perfect game" matter-of-factly,
possibly indicating the term was already familiar to the
readership. Lanigan's work references a 1914 book called
Balldom as a source for his list of perfect games,
although Balldom itself does not use the term "perfect
game", merely characterizing the games as "no batter reached first
base." Lanigan was also familiar with Sanborn's baseball articles,
making various references to him elsewhere in the
Cyclopedia, although there is nothing indicating that
Sanborn necessarily inspired Lanigan's use of the term.
- Buckley (2002), p. 15.
- Buckley (2002), p. 26.
- Hanlon (1968).
- Okrent and Wulf (1989), pp. 14–15. 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.
- Buckley (2002), p. 14.
- Buckley (2002), p. 27.
- Browning (2003), pp. 145, 248.
- Coffey (2004), p. 28.
- Anderson (2000), pp. 185–186. BaseballLibrary.com claims it was a passed
- Buckley (2005), pp. 58, 61–64.
- 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.
- Buckley (2002), pp. 73–74.
- Kennedy (1996).
- Buckley (2002), p. vi.
- 1968 Oakland Athletics Game Log. Retrosheet.
Retrieved on July 26, 2009.
- Newman (1981).
- Buckley (2002), p. 141.
- Buckley (2002), p. 169.
- Buckley (2002), p. 189.
- Gallagher (2003), p. 431.
- 2004 National League Season Summary.
Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved on July 26, 2009.
- As of July 26, 2009, the 2009 Tampa Bay Rays, against whom
Buerhle threw his perfect game, have a an OBP of .350. 2009 American League Season Summary.
Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved on July 26, 2009.
- [ ]
- Dickson (2009), p. 415.
- Young (1997), p. 29.
- Forker, Obojski, and Stewart (2004), p. 116.
- Vass (2002).
- See, e.g., Chen (2009); Reisler (2007), p. 57; Thielman (2005),
p. 169; Sullivan (2002), p. 139.
- Boxscore—Game Played on Tuesday, May 26, 1959 (N) at
County Stadium Retrosheet. Retrieved on July 21, 2008.
- Boxscore—Game Played on Saturday, June 3, 1995 (N) at Jack
Murphy Stadium Retrosheet. Retrieved on June 6, 2009.
- Robbins (2004), p. 242.
- Rothe, Emil H. The Shortened No-Hitters Baseball Research
Journal. SABR. Retrieved on June 6, 2009.
- Zingg and Medeiros (1994), p. 27.
- Boxscore—Game Played on Saturday, April 21, 1984 (N) at
Busch Stadium II Retrosheet. Retrieved on June 6, 2009.
- Pedro Martinez: Perfect Game—Spring Training
1918RedSox.com. Retrieved on June 6, 2009.
- Holtzman (2003). Note that Coffey (2004) gives incorrect years
for the near-perfect games of Wiltse, Stieb, Holman, and Mussina
- Nemec (2006), pp. 86–87; Simon (2004), p. 54; 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
Burdette (August 18, 1960; fifth inning) and Kevin Brown (June 10,
1997; eighth inning).
- Deveaux (2001), p. 111; James (2003), p. 891.
- Boxscore—Game Played on Friday, June 27, 1958 (N) at
Comiskey Park I Retrosheet; Billy Pierce Interview Baseball Almanac.
Retrieved on June 6, 2009.
- Boxscore—Game Played on Saturday, September 2, 1972 (D) at
Wrigley Field Retrosheet. Retrieved on June 6, 2009;
- Boxscore—Game Played on Friday, April 15, 1983 (N) at
Comiskey Park I Retrosheet. Retrieved on June 6, 2009.
- Boxscore—Game Played on Monday, May 2, 1988 (N) at
Riverfront Stadium Retrosheet. Retrieved on June 6, 2009.
- Box score: August 4, 1989—New York Yankees at
Toronto Blue Jays Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved on
- Box score: April 20, 1990—Seattle Mariners at
Oakland Athletics Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved on
- Box score: September 2, 2001—New York Yankees at
Boston Red Sox Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved on
- Box score: September 18, 1971—Chicago Cubs at
Philadelphia Phillies Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved on
- 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.
- Elston (2006), pp. 173–174.
- Charlton's Baseball Chronology—1880 (July)
Baseball Library. Retrieved on May 11, 2009.
- 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.
- Boxscore—Game Played on Saturday, May 16, 1953 (D) at
County Stadium Retrosheet. Retrieved on January 12, 2009.
- Boxscore—Game Played on Thursday, May 13, 1954 (N) at
Connie Mack Stadium Retrosheet. Retrieved on January 12,
- Boxscore—Game Played on Friday, July 1, 1966 (N) at Shea
Stadium Retrosheet. Retrieved on January 12, 2009.
- Boxscore—Game Played on Tuesday, May 19, 1981 (N) at Three
Rivers Stadium Retrosheet. Retrieved on January 12, 2009.
- Boxscore—Game Played on Friday, June 11, 1982 (N) at
Dodger Stadium Retrosheet. Retrieved on May 11, 2009.
- Boxscore—Game Played on Thursday, April 22, 1993 (N) at
Kingdome Retrosheet. Retrieved on January 12, 2009.
- Boxscore—Game Played on Friday, July 7, 2006 (N) at
Network Associates Coliseum Retrosheet. Retrieved on November
- Vass (2007). This article predates the Sánchez game. Vass
mistakenly includes two games: the one thrown by Cy Young, then
with the Cleveland Spiders, on September 18, 1897; and the one thrown by Chicago White Sox
Horlen on September 10, 1967. In addition to three Spiders errors—including two
that were originally scored as hits—Young walked a batter. See
Lewis (2002) and Elston (2006), p. 246. In addition to one White
Sox error, Horlen hit a batter in the 3d inning. See Boxscore—Game Played on Sunday, September 10, 1967 (D) at
Comiskey Park I. Retrosheet. Retrieved on April 22, 2009.
- Schott and Peters (2003), p. 410.
- Deveaux (2001), p. 53; Robbins (2004), pp. 238–239.
- Robbins (2004), p. 239. See also Deveaux (2001), pp.
- Schneider (2005), p. 142; Robbins (2004), p. 240; Boxscore—Game Played on Friday, July 19, 1974 (N) at
Cleveland Stadium. Retrosheet. Retrieved on April 22,
- McNeil (2003), p. 342; Robbins (2004), pp. 240–241; Boxscore—Game Played on Friday, June 27, 1980 (N) at
Candlestick Park. Retrosheet. Retrieved on April 22, 2009.
- Westcott (2005), p. 77; Robbins (2004), pp. 241–242; Boxscore—Game Played on Wednesday, August 15, 1990 (N) at
Veterans Stadium. Retrosheet. Retrieved on April 22, 2009.
- Lewis (2002). See also Boxscore—Game Played on Monday, July 20, 1970 (D) at
Dodger Stadium. Retrosheet. Retrieved on April 22, 2009. One of
the mistaken websites is HickokSports.com, which contains several errors.
- Alvarez, Mark, ed. (1993). The Perfect Game: A Classic
Collection of Facts, Figures, Stories and Characters from the
Society for American Baseball Research (Taylor). ISBN
- Anderson, David W. (2000). More Than Merkle: A History of
the Best and Most Exciting Baseball Season in Human History
(Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press). ISBN
- Browning, Reed (2003). Cy Young: A Baseball Life
(Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press). ISBN 1558493980
- Buckley, Jr., James (2002). Perfect: The Inside Story of
Baseball's Seventeen Perfect Games (Triumph Books). ISBN
- Chen, Albert (2009). "The Greatest Game Ever Pitched,"
Sports Illustrated (June 1; available online).
- Coffey, Michael (2004). 27 Men Out: Baseball's Perfect
Games (New York: Atria Books). ISBN 0743446062
- Deutsch, Jordan A. et al. (1975). The Scrapbook History of
Baseball (New York: Bobbs-Merrill). ISBN 0672520281
- Deveaux, Tom (2001). The Washington Senators,
1901–1971 (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland). ISBN 0786409932
- Dewey, Donald, and Nicholas Acocella (1995). The
Biographical History of Baseball (New York: Carroll &
Graf). ISBN 1572435674
- Dickson, Paul (2009). The Dickson Baseball Dictionary,
3d ed. (New York: W. W. Norton). ISBN 0393066819
- Elston, Gene (2006). A Stitch in Time: A Baseball
Chronology, 3d ed. (Houston, Tex.: Halcyon Press). ISBN
- Fleitz, David L. (2004). Ghosts in the Gallery at
Cooperstown: Sixteen Little-Known Members of the Hall of Fame
(Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland). ISBN 0786417498
- Forker, Dom, Robert Obojski, and Wayne Stewart (2004). The
Big Book of Baseball Brainteasers (Sterling). ISBN
- Gallagher, Mark (2003). The Yankee Encyclopedia, 6th
ed. (Champaign, Ill.: Sports Publishing LLC). ISBN 1582616833
- Hanlon, John (1968). "First Perfect Game In the Major Leagues,"
Sports Illustrated (August 26; available online).
- Holtzman, Jerome (2003). "Pitching Perfection Is in the Eye of
the Beholder," Baseball Digest (June; available online).
- James, Bill. The New Bill James
Historical Baseball Abstract, rev. ed. (Simon and
Schuster, 2003). ISBN 0743227220
- Kennedy, Kostya (1996). "His Memory Is Perfect," Sports
Illustrated (October 14; available online)
- Lewis, Allen (2002). "Tainted No-hitters," Baseball
Digest (February; available online).
- McNeil, William F. (2003). The Dodgers Encyclopedia,
2d ed. (Champaign, Ill.: Sports Publishing LLC). ISBN
- Nemec, David (2006). The Official Rules of Baseball
Illustrated (Guilford, Conn.: Globe Pequot). ISBN
- Newman, Bruce (1981). "Perfect in Every Way," Sports
Illustrated (May 25; available online).
- Okrent, Daniel, and Steve Wulf (1989). Baseball
Anecdotes (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press). ISBN
- Reisler, Jim (2007). The Best Game Ever: Pirates vs.
Yankees, October 13, 1960 (New York: Carroll & Graf). ISBN
- Robbins, Mike (2004). Ninety Feet from Fame: Close Calls
with Baseball Immortality (New York: Carroll & Graf). ISBN
- Schneider, Russell (2005). The Cleveland Indians
Encyclopedia, 3d ed. (Champaign, Ill.: Sports Publishing LLC).
- Schott, Tom, and Nick Peters (2003). The Giants
Encyclopedia (Champaign, Ill.: Sports Publishing LLC). ISBN
- Simon, Thomas P., ed. (2004). Deadball Stars of the
National League (Brassey's). ISBN 1574888609
- Sullivan, Dean, ed. (2002). Late Innings: A Documentary
History of Baseball, 1945–1972 (Lincoln: University of
Nebraska Press). ISBN 0803292856
- Thielman, Jim (2005). Cool of the Evening: The 1965
Minnesota Twins (Minneapolis, Minn.: Kirk House Publishers).
- Vass, George (1998). "Here Are the 13 Most Fascinating
No-Hitters," Baseball Digest (June).
- Vass, George (2002). "Seven Most Improbable No-Hitters,"
Baseball Digest (August; available online).
- Vass, George (2007). "One Out Away from Fame: The Final Out of
Hitless Games Has Often Proved to Be a Pitcher's Toughest
Conquest," Baseball Digest (June; available online).
- Westcott, Rich (2005). Veterans Stadium: Field of
Memories (Philadelphia: Temple University Press). ISBN
- Young, Mark C. (1997). The Guinness Book of Sports
Records (Guinness Media). ISBN 0965238318
- Zingg, Paul J., and Mark D. Medeiros (1994). Runs, Hits,
and an Era: the Pacific Coast League, 1903–58 (Champaign:
University of Illinois Press). ISBN 025206402X