G.J. Vitale | Who’s on first

 

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n the wake of Yu Darvish losing his perfect game with two outs in the final inning this Tuesday, let’s look back at some of the best “So close!” moments in baseball perfect game history.

Harvey Haddix: In perhaps the most epic near-perfect game ever, Haddix managed to go 12 innings, retiring every batter he faced — he got nine extra outs! — in a 1959 game against the Milwaukee Brewers. Unfortunately for him, Brewers’ pitcher Lew Burdette was keeping his Pittsburgh Pirates scoreless.By definition, the pitcher must get the win to throw a perfect game. In the 13th inning — yes, he was still pitching — an error ended the perfect game bid. Even more unfortunately for Haddix, he wound up not only losing the perfect game, but the no-hitter and the game itself.

Pedro Martinez: While on the Montreal Expos, Martinez did something very similar in a 1995 start against the San Diego Padres: He faced 27 hitters and got all 27 out in a row. Like Haddix, however, his team did not score either, so the game went into extras where Martinez gave up a double to lead off the 10th.

Milt Pappas: During a late-season matchup while with the Chicago Cubs in 1972, Pappas had a perfect game with only one out to go in the ninth. He had two strikes on the hitter but was apparently squeezed by home plate umpire Bruce Froemming on two consecutive pitches, resulting in a walk and loss of the perfect game. Pappas easily retired the next batter to complete the no-hitter, but the no-no would remain an opportunity lost for Pappas. Froemming and Pappas even had it out live on a talk radio show 20-something years later.

Armando Galarraga: Galarraga is someone who knows what it means to be short-sided by an umpire’s call. On Jun. 2, 2012 against the Cleveland Indians, he was one out away when a ground ball was hit to first baseman Miguel Cabrera. Covering first to receive the throw, Galarraga simultaneously caught the ball and touched the base a full step before the runner, but umpire Jim Joyce called him safe.

Galarraga went on to retire the next batter, but unlike Pappas, he did not have a no-hitter to fall back on, since the play at first was by definition an infield single. The blown call thus removed Galarraga from either revered list. Joyce has since bravely admitted his missed call tearfully saying, “I just cost the kid a perfect game.” Galarraga has publically forgiven Joyce.

Mike Mussina: Throughout his career, Mussina gained the reputation as a tough-luck pitcher. He took a perfect game into the ninth inning twice in four years. While with the Baltimore Orioles in 1997, he needed just two more outs, but a single followed by two strikeouts meant he would have to settle with a complete game shutout. In 2001, with the Yankees, he retired the first 26 batters faced in a game against the rival Red Sox, only to give up a bloop-single to pinch-hitter Carl Everett before recording the final out for the shutout win.

Hooks Wiltse: In 1908, with one out to go in the ninth, poor Hooks ruined his perfect game by hitting, of all people, the opposing team’s pitcher. A tough one to swallow.

This list is by no means exhaustive. If Yu Darvish-ing for more, take a look at the long list of players who just missed out on the perfect game: Brian Holman, Dave Stieb, Ron Robinson, Tommy Bridges, Billy Pierce, Milt Wilcox and Ernie Shore.

 

 

 

G.J Vitale is a junior majoring in biology-psychology and English. He can be reached at Gregory.Vitale@tufts.edu.

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