How many perfect games in mlb history?

HotbotBy HotBotUpdated: July 3, 2024

Introduction to Perfect Games in MLB

A perfect game in Major League Baseball (MLB) is a rare and remarkable achievement. A pitcher must retire all 27 batters in a game without allowing any to reach base. This feat requires a combination of skill, precision, and a bit of luck. As of the end of the 2022 MLB season, there have been 23 official perfect games recorded in MLB history.

The First Perfect Game

The first recognized perfect game in MLB history was pitched by Lee Richmond of the Worcester Ruby Legs on June 12, 1880. Richmond's performance set a precedent for what would become one of the most celebrated accomplishments in the sport.

Early 20th Century Perfect Games

In the early 20th century, perfect games were exceedingly rare. The second perfect game in MLB history occurred just five days after Richmond's, on June 17, 1880, pitched by John Montgomery Ward. Following these early examples, it took until 1904 for another perfect game to be recorded, accomplished by Cy Young on May 5.

Modern Era Perfect Games

The modern era of MLB, defined as post-1900, has seen a number of perfect games, each with its own unique story. Some notable modern perfect games include:

Don Larsen's World Series Perfect Game

On October 8, 1956, Don Larsen of the New York Yankees pitched the only perfect game in World Series history. Larsen's perfect game came during Game 5 of the World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers, making it one of the most famous games in baseball history.

Jim Bunning's Perfect Game

Jim Bunning pitched a perfect game on June 21, 1964, for the Philadelphia Phillies against the New York Mets. This game is notable for being the first perfect game in the National League since 1880.

Catfish Hunter's Perfect Game

On May 8, 1968, Catfish Hunter of the Oakland Athletics achieved perfection against the Minnesota Twins. Hunter's performance was particularly impressive as he also contributed offensively with three hits and three RBIs.

Randy Johnson's Perfect Game

Randy Johnson, a future Hall of Famer, pitched a perfect game on May 18, 2004, for the Arizona Diamondbacks against the Atlanta Braves. At 40 years old, Johnson became the oldest pitcher to throw a perfect game.

Perfect Games in the 21st Century

The 21st century has seen a surge in perfect games, with several notable performances:

Mark Buehrle's Perfect Game

Mark Buehrle of the Chicago White Sox pitched a perfect game on July 23, 2009, against the Tampa Bay Rays. Buehrle's perfect game is remembered for a spectacular catch by center fielder Dewayne Wise, which preserved the perfect game in the ninth inning.

Dallas Braden's Mother's Day Perfect Game

On May 9, 2010, Dallas Braden of the Oakland Athletics pitched a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Braden's performance was particularly poignant as it took place on Mother's Day, and he dedicated the game to his late mother.

Roy Halladay's Perfect Game

Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies achieved perfection on May 29, 2010, against the Florida Marlins. Halladay's perfect game was a precursor to his postseason no-hitter later that year.

Felix Hernandez's Perfect Game

On August 15, 2012, Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners pitched a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Hernandez's performance is the most recent perfect game in MLB history, as of the end of the 2022 season.

Statistical Analysis of Perfect Games

Perfect games are a testament to a pitcher's dominance and the defense's flawless execution. Statistically, they are incredibly rare, occurring approximately once every 7,000 games. The rarity is underscored by periods of decades without a perfect game, followed by clusters where multiple perfect games occur in a short span of time.

Historical Context and Impact

Perfect games hold a special place in baseball history, often serving as defining moments in a player's career. They reflect not only the pitcher's skill but also the team's overall performance. Perfect games often elevate the status of the pitcher within the annals of baseball lore, creating lasting legacies.

Challenges and Controversies

The path to a perfect game is fraught with challenges and potential controversies. Umpire decisions, close plays, and even weather conditions can impact the outcome. One of the most notable near-perfect games was Armando Galarraga's "imperfect game" on June 2, 2010, where a blown call at first base cost him a perfect game.

The rarity and difficulty of pitching a perfect game make it one of the most revered accomplishments in Major League Baseball. Each perfect game has its own unique story, contributing to the rich tapestry of baseball history. The legacy of these games continues to inspire pitchers and captivate fans, reminding us of the beauty and unpredictability of America's pastime.

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