Tuesday, March 30, 2010

6 Pitchers Who Were Perfect...And Then Some!

Pitching a Perfect Game in Major League Baseball is one of the most difficult feats in all of sport. A Perfect Game is one in which the pitcher faces the minimum number of batters possible (27) and retires every one of them. No opposing player reaches base during the entire game by any means. In the history of the game, it has only been done 18 times.

More common is the No-Hitter, where no batter on the opposing team hits safely during the game, although opposing batters may reach base by other means, such as a walk or an error. Major League Baseball has seen 263 No-Hitters in its history, including those 18 Perfectos - still an enormously difficult feat to accomplish, but certainly more likely than a Perfect Game.

No pitcher has ever thrown multiple Perfect Games; a mere 23 have thrown multiple No-Hitters. But only 6 have ever accomplished the amazing, and thrown a Perfect Game and at least one other No-Hitter. With 6 days remaining to Opening Day, let's recognize those six for achieving the nearly impossible!

In chronological order:

1. Cy Young
Young tossed three No-Hitters in his career. The first came on 10/15/1892, when Young, pitching for the Cleveland Spiders, no-hit the Cincinnati Reds. On 5/5/1904, Young became the first player to join this Select Six by throwing a Perfecto for the Boston Americans against the Philadelphia A's. Young would add a final No-Hitter on 6/30/1908, again for Boston (who by now were called the Red Sox) against the New York Highlanders.

2. Addie Joss
Joss pitched his Perfect Game on 10/2/1908 for the Cleveland Naps vs. the Chicago White Sox. His second No-Hitter came a year and a half later, on 4/30/1910, again leading the Naps to victory over the White Sox, making him the only pitcher on this list to shut down the same team twice!

3. Jim Bunning
Bunning is one of two pitchers on the list who tossed a No-Hitter in each League. His first came in the AL, when he was with the Detroit Tigers. On 6/20/58, Bunning no-hit the Boston Red Sox. By 1964 Bunning was in the NL with the Philadelphia Phillies, and on Father's Day (6/21) of that year, he spun a Perfect Game against the New York Mets...one day after the six-year anniversary of his first No-Hitter!

4. Sandy Koufax
Koufax has the most No-Hitters on the list. He tossed four of them, all with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and all in successive seasons. On 6/30/1962, Koufax sent the New York Mets home hitless; 5/11/1963 was the day he did the same to the San Francisco Giants. He celebrated 6/4/1964 by no-hitting the Philadelphia Phillies, and on 9/9/65, he finally got his Perfecto vs. the Chicago Cubs. Think of what he might have done had his arm not hurt all the time!

5. Randy Johnson
It would be almost four decades before the next pitcher would join this list. Randy Johnson threw his first No-Hitter for the Seattle Mariners against the Detroit Tigers on 6/2/1990. Fourteen years later, on 5/18/2004, Johnson took the mound for the Arizona Diamondbacks and tossed a Perfecto against the Atlanta Braves.

6. Mark Buehrle
Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle became the sixth man in MLB history to accomplish this impressive pitching feat just last year. Having one No-Hitter already under his belt (4/18/2007 vs. the Texas Rangers), Buehrle achieved perfection against the Tampa Bay Rays on 7/23/2009

There you have it: the only 6 pitchers in MLB history to have thrown a Perfect Game and at least one other No-Hitter. If you can think of a more difficult pitching accomplishment, I'd love to hear it!

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