By Glen Sparks
Kenny Rogers tossed a perfect game on this date in 1991. The Texas Rangers left-hander struck out eight and threw 98 pitches in setting down all 27 California Angels hitters at the Ballpark in Arlington.
Rogers’ perfecto was the 12th in the major leagues since 1900. The Montreal Expos’ Dennis Martinez threw his perfect game, the 11th of the modern era, exactly three years before Rogers. He beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 at Dodger Stadium.
Now, 21 perfect games have been thrown since 1900, the most recent by Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners on Aug. 15, 2012. July 28 is the only date that has two perfect games on its ledger. (May is the most popular month, seven.)
In honor of July 28 being a perfect day of sorts for perfect games, I’m posting a perfect trivia package. You can read about some of the greatest-pitched games in MLB history. You’ll find 21 bullet points below, in honor of the 21 complete games of the modern era (1900 and after).
- The Boston Americans’ Cy Young threw the first post-1900 perfect game. He beat the Philadelphia A’s 3-0 on May 5, 1904, at the Huntington Avenue Grounds in Boston.
- The Chicago White Sox’ Charlie Robertson threw his perfect game in just his fifth career appearance, April 30, 1922. Robertson’s won-loss percentage of .380 (49-80) is the lowest of any perfect-game pitcher.
- Jim Bunning’s perfect game on June 21, 1964, for the Philadelphia Phillies was the first of the modern era in the National League.
- Sandy Koufax and Matt Cain recorded the most strikeouts in a perfect game, 14. Addie Joss recorded the fewest, three. (Ed Walsh struck out 15 for the Chicago White Sox that day against Joss’s Cleveland Naps.)
- Six Hall of Famers have thrown perfect games in the modern era (Young, Joss, Jim Bunning, Koufax, Jim “Catfish” Hunter and Randy Johnson).
- Young, of course, has the most wins of any perfect-game pitcher, 511. Philip Humber has the fewest, 16 and counting).
- The New York Yankees’ Don Larsen threw the most famous perfect game in MLB history, Oct. 8, 1956, in Game 2 of the World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers. He went with a no-windup delivery throughout the game. Talk about a bounceback start. Larsen went just 1 2/3 innings in his Game 2 start and gave up one hit, four walks, and four unearned runs.
- Baseball went more than 34 years between Robertson’s perfect game (April 30, 1922) and Larsen’s (Oct. 8, 1956). Conversely, baseball waited less than three weeks between Dallas Braden’s perfect game (May 9, 2010) and Roy Halladay’s (May 29, 2010).
- Records do not indicate how many pitches that Young hurled in his perfect game. Of the others, Joss threw the least, 74, and Cain threw the most, 125.
- Koufax has the most no-hitters of any of the pitchers, four. (In case you’re wondering, the fewest walks that Nolan Ryan gave up in any one of his seven no-hitters was two. He did that three times.)
- Talk about pressure. Six perfect games have ended 1-0. Four have ended 2-0. Cain’s game was the biggest blowout, 10-0 against the Houston Astros.
- In Koufax’s perfect game, opposing pitcher Bob Hendley of the Chicago Cubs gave up just one hit in his complete-game effort, to Lou Johnson in the seventh inning. The Dodgers scored their lone run in the fifth inning. Johnson walked, went to second on a sacrifice bunt, stole third and scored on an error by Cubs catcher Chris Krug.
- Bunning threw his no-hitter on Father’s Day (June 21, 1964). Braden threw his on Mother’s Day (May 9, 2010).
- Hunter was the youngest pitcher to throw a modern-day no-hitter, 22 years, 30 days. Johnson was the oldest, 40 years, 256 days.
- Tom Browning’s perfect game on Sept. 16, 1988, came against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team that went on to the win the World Series, the only time that has happened.
- Mike Witt threw his perfect game on the last day of the regular season for the California Angels.
- David Wells graduated from Point Loma High School in San Diego, the same high school as Larson.
- They could swing the bat, too. Hunter (3 RBI), Bunning (2) and Young (1) all drove in runs in their perfect games.
- 2012 was a perfect year. Three pitchers threw perfect games in 2012—Humber (Apri 21), Cain (June 13) and Felix Hernandez (Aug. 15).
- Pitchers have thrown three perfect games against the Tampa Rays (also, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays). They also have thrown three against the Dodgers, who have been around a little longer.
- The Yankees have the most perfect games (Larson, Wells and David Cone).