27 up, 27 down. Sounds simple right?
You would think that getting all 27 batters out, without having them reach base in any way, would be easier than as predicated. But what if I told you more people have orbited the moon than have thrown a perfect game? You literally have a better chance at winning the lottery while being struck by lightning multiple times during a date with a Brazilian super model.
In more than 140 years of professional baseball, the sport has only seen 21 perfect games. That’s right, Chicago’s Phil Humber is only the 21st player to accomplish the feat in the entire history of major league baseball. Also crazy enough, Humber’s flawless match is the 4th of it’s kind in the past four seasons, and second from a White Sox pitcher (Mark Buehrle in 2009). It was also the first complete game pitched from Humber in his young career.
Needless to say, I was more than pumped to witness the event while in a bar in Hermosa Beach this past weekend. More than two thousand miles from Chicago, I was probably the only Sox fan within a 10 mile radius of the over-saturated South Bay, and I didn't care who knew it. I was ecstatic while watching A.J. Pierzynski and co. jump all over each other in celebration following the last out–which was a weird one by the way–a dropped third strike that had to be thrown down to first base.
Any-who, now after paying homage to my boys in black, here is my list of the top 5 perfect games in MLB history. And I promise not to be a 'homer.' I was tempted to include Buehrle's game in 2009…but we'll just call that No. 6.
#5 John Montgomery Ward, Prov – June 17, 1880
Providence Grays, 5 at Buffalo Bisons, 0
That’s right, I’m going old school to kick things off. So old school in fact, that this game not only includes two defunct teams, but also is included in what’s called the ‘pre-modern’ era—or something like that. Ward gets mad props for being the youngest to toss a perfecto, doing so at the ripe age of 20. Also unique, Ward’s perfect game came just five days after the first perfect game ever recorded; a gem thrown by Lee Richmond on June 12, 1880 for the Worcester Ruby Legs
#4 Randy Johnson, Ari – May 18, 2004
Arizona Diamondbacks, 2 at Atlanta Braves, 0
The ‘Big Unit’ struck out 13 in this great one, and he did it at age 40; which puts him as the oldest pitcher to toss a perfect game. The Braves also had the second-highest winning percentage that year at .593.
#3 Tom Browning, Cin – Sep 16, 1988
Los Angeles Dodgers, 0 at Cincinnati Reds 1
A 1-0 gem, Browning’s no-hitter against the Dodgers is impressive considering it’s the only time a perfect game was thrown against the eventual World Series champions. L.A. would go on to defeat the Oakland Athletics in the Series just more than a month later.
#2 Sandy Koufax, LAD – Sep 9, 1965
Chicago Cubs, 0 at Los Angeles Dodgers, 1
The first of two perfect games in the history of Dodger Stadium came from the greatest Dodger pitcher of them all. Koufax sat down 14 of the 27 batters on strikes, the highest recorded total for any perfect game. Also, another 1-0 game; one of the few times you’ll ever see in the box score a complete-game no-hitter from a pitcher who also gets the ‘save.’
#1 Don Larsen, NYY – Oct 8, 1956
Game 5 of the 1956 World Series
Brooklyn Dodgers, 0 at New York Yankees, 2
The only post-season perfect game in MLB history, and it was during the World Series. Caught by Yogi Berra, Larsen pitched this famous masterpiece on 97 pitches while punching out seven on strikes. Impressive enough considering it was against the National League champion Dodgers; but even more so when you see the heart of their lineup included Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider, Jackie Robinson and Gil Hodges.
Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS