The Perfect 20

Addie Joss

Every 10,000 MLB games perfection happens.

Since 1876, there have been 200,070 games played in Major League Baseball and on only 20 occasions has a pitcher achieved the immortality of a perfect game.

Some of the greatest pitchers in history have tossed a flawless game, including Hall Of Famers Cy Young (1904), Addie Joss (1908), Jim Bunning (1964), Sandy Koufax (1965), and Catfish Hunter (1968).

Lee Richmond (1880) of the Worcester Ruby Legs hurled the first perfect game in MLB history.  The game featured an unusual 9-3 putout to preserve the masterpiece.  Five days later, John Montgomery Ward (1880) hurled the second perfect game for the Providence Grays.  Amazingly, it would take 84 years for the next National League pitcher to achieve perfection.

Don Larsen pitched the only post-season perfecto in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers.  The right-hander completed his MLB career posting an 81-91 record, 3.78 ERA, 1.40 WHIP.  Larsen’s gem is often regarded as the greatest game ever pitched.

Charles Robertson (1922) is the least likely candidate to throw a perfect game.  The right-hander accomplished the feat for the Chicago White Sox in only his fifth MLB start.  Robertson compiled a lifetime 49-80 record, 4.44 ERA, and 1.51 WHIP over eight seasons.

In the past 30 seasons alone, there have been eleven perfect games.

Roy Halladay (2010), Dallas Braden (2010), Mark Buehrle (2009), Randy Johnson (2004), David Cone (1999), David Wells (1998), Kenny Rogers (1994), Dennis Martinez (1991), Tom Browning (1988), Mike Witt (1984), and Len Barker (1981) round out the twenty greatest games ever pitched in MLB history.

There have been ten additional occasions in which a pitcher has retired the first 26 batters before surrendering a base runner to end the bid of perfection. The last occurrence famously involved Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers in 2010.

Harvey Haddix, stunned, after losing his perfect game and no-hitter in the 13th inning. Haddix got the loss.

Harvey Haddix and Pedro Martinez are the only two pitchers ever to take a perfect game into extra-innings.  Unfortunately, these two amazing performances are not considered official perfect games in the record books.

There have been perfect games authored 5 days apart, 23 days apart, and 34 years apart.

Regardless, this special feat has the chance to occur every time you walk through the turnstile at the nearest ballpark cathedral. Otherwise, when the pitcher gives up a leadoff single to start the game, you can say, “there goes the perfect game”.

Twenty-seven up, twenty-seven down. Baseball Immortality.

About Josh Robbins
Josh is a freelance videographer/journalist and baseball historian in Gilbert, Arizona. In 2010, he earned a Master’s Degree in Sport Management from CSU-Long Beach. From June 16 to July 11, 2008, he watched a game in all 30 MLB stadiums in a world record 26 days by car. You can email Josh at robbinsjosh AT hotmail DOT com or visit his website at Thirty26.com.

3 Comments on The Perfect 20

  1. Josh, “there goes the perfect game” is your favorite ballpark phrase.

    Don Larsen’s perfect game is the best game ever pitched? Haddix went 12 full innings before his defense cost him the game. Kerry Wood’s 20K, 1 hitter? That might be the best game ever pitched. Sounds like a good subject for an article.

  2. The best game ever pitched is an excellent article in the coming days before ST.

  3. Haha…I always think about that too when going to the ballpark. I would love to witness a no hitter or perfect game! Nice article, Josh.

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