Pitching Perfection

Updated August 5, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

The very first perfect game in 1904

by Mike Morrison

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May 5th marks the 96th anniversary of the first perfect game ever pitched in American League history. Boston right-hander Cy Young faced 27 Philadelphia Athletics and set all 27 down en route to a 3-0 win. No Athletics reached first base. No hits, no walks, no errors, no hit-batsmen.

The perfect game is one of the rarest occurrences in sports. Since Young's masterpiece, only 15 pitchers have accomplished the feat, the last one by New York Yankees veteran David Cone in 1999. Cone set down 27 Montreal Expos in a row in the Yakees' 6-0 win on July 18.

Possibly the most famous perfect game in history was turned in by NY Yankee hurler Don Larsen in the 1956 World Series. Larsen's 2-0 gem in game 5 against the Brooklyn Dodgers gave the Yankees a 3-2 series lead and sparked them to their fifth World Series Championship of the decade.

Perfect game oddities and near-misses:

  • In 1959, Pittsburgh Pirate Harvey Haddix pitched 12 perfect innings against the Milwaukee Braves, before finally losing in the 13th, 1-0.
  • In 1917, Boston's Babe Ruth started a game against the Washington Senators. As lore has it, Ruth walked lead-off batter Ray Morgan and became so enraged that he punched the umpire in the face and was ejected. Ernie Shore came in to replace Ruth, promptly caught Morgan trying to steal and retired the remaining 26 batters. Because he didn't start, his perfect game is not considered official.
  • In 1908, New York's Hooks Wiltse was one strike away from a perfect game against Philadelphia when he hit a batter. What made it even worse was that the batter he hit was the Philadelphia pitcher. Wiltse did go on to record a no-hitter, but his bid for perfection was lost.

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