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Perfect game (baseball)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The "everlasting image" of New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra leaping into the arms of pitcher Don Larsen after the completion of Larsen's perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series[1]

In baseball, a perfect game is a game in which one or more pitchers complete a minimum of nine innings with no batter from the opposing team reaching base.[2] To achieve a perfect game, a team must not allow any opposing player to reach base by any means: no hits, walks, hit batsmen, uncaught third strikes, catcher's interference, fielder's obstruction, or fielding errors which allow a batter to reach base.

A perfect game, by definition, is also a no-hitter, and is also guaranteed to result in a win and a shutout if the game does not go into extra innings. In leagues that use a WBSC tiebreaker (including MLB since 2020), runners are placed on second base, and in some leagues, also on first base at the start of each half-inning during extra innings; this automatic runner would not cause a perfect game to be lost. Therefore, if the runner advances and scores without any batters reaching base (by means of stolen base, sacrifice, fielder's choice, etc.), and this turns out to be the winning run, then the losing team will still be credited with a perfect game, despite losing the game. A fielding error that does not allow a batter to reach base, such as a misplayed foul ball, does not spoil a perfect game.[3] Games that last fewer than nine innings, regardless of cause, in which a team has no baserunners do not qualify as perfect games. Games in which a team reaches first base only in extra innings also do not qualify as perfect games.

The first known use of the term perfect game was in 1908; its current definition was formalized in 1991. In Major League Baseball (MLB), it has been achieved 24 times – 22 times since the modern era began in 1901, most recently by Domingo Germán of the New York Yankees on June 28, 2023, against the Oakland Athletics. Although it is possible for two or more pitchers to combine for a perfect game (which has happened 20 times in MLB no-hitters[4]), every MLB perfect game so far has been thrown by a single pitcher.[5] An example of a combined perfect game occurred in Game 5 of the 2007 Japan Series of Nippon Professional Baseball.

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  • 2022 PG 12U SelectFest



The first known occurrence of the term perfect game in print was in 1908. I. E. Sanborn's report for the Chicago Tribune about Addie Joss's performance against the White Sox calls it "an absolutely perfect game, without run, without hit, and without letting an opponent reach first base by hook or crook, on hit, walk, or error, in nine innings".[6] Several sources have claimed that the first recorded usage of perfect game was by Ernest J. Lanigan in his Baseball Cyclopedia, made in reference to Charlie Robertson's 1922 perfect game.[7] The Chicago Tribune came close to the term in describing Lee Richmond's game for Worcester in 1880: "Richmond was most effectively supported, every position on the home nine being played to perfection."[8] Similarly, in writing up John Montgomery Ward's 1880 perfect game, the New York Clipper described the "perfect play" of Providence's defense.[9]

The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) existed from 1943 to 1954. Four of its players pitched a perfect game: Annabelle Lee in 1944, Carolyn Morris in 1945, Doris Sams in 1947, and Jean Faut in 1951 (against the Rockford Peaches) and again in 1953 (against the Kalamazoo Lassies).[10][11] Faut is the only professional baseball player, male or female, to have pitched two perfect games.[12]

There has been one perfect game in the World Series, thrown by Don Larsen for the New York Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers on October 8, 1956. By coincidence, Larsen, and the catcher for that game, Yogi Berra, were in attendance when Yankee pitcher David Cone threw a perfect game in 1999, as Larsen and Berra were invited to throw and catch the ceremonial first pitch.[13]

Ron Hassey is the only catcher in MLB history to have caught more than one perfect game. His first was with pitcher Len Barker (for the Cleveland Indians against the Toronto Blue Jays) in 1981 and his second was with pitcher Dennis Martínez (for the Montreal Expos against the Los Angeles Dodgers) in 1991.[14][15]

The most recent perfect game for MLB occurred on June 28, 2023, with Domingo Germán of the New York Yankees against the Oakland Athletics in an 11–0 victory, finishing with 9 strikeouts.[16] Germán became the first-ever pitcher born in the Dominican Republic to throw a perfect game in the MLB, as well as the third-ever non-American-born player to do so, and was the first pitcher to throw a perfect game with the pitch clock and batting clock rules in effect.[17]

Rule definition by MLB

As of 2024, the Major League Baseball definition of a perfect game is largely a side effect of the decision made by the major leagues' Committee for Statistical Accuracy on September 4, 1991, to redefine a no-hitter as a game in which the pitcher or pitchers on one team throw a complete game of nine innings or more without surrendering a hit.[18] That decision removed a number of games that had long appeared in the record books: those lasting fewer than nine innings, and those in which a team went hitless in regulation but then got a hit in extra innings. The definition of perfect game was made to parallel this new definition of the no-hitter, in effect substituting "baserunner" for "hit". As a result of the 1991 redefinition, for instance, Harvey Haddix does not receive credit for a perfect game or a no-hitter for his performance on May 26, 1959, when he threw 12 perfect innings against the Milwaukee Braves before a batter reached in the 13th.[19]

Since MLB implementation of the softball variant of the WBSC tie-breaker in 2020, the offensive team is awarded a free runner on second base each half-inning during extra innings.[20] This itself would not end a perfect game, even if the runner scores or is erased on a double play. Another rule change effective for two seasons (2020–2021) stipulated that games that are part of doubleheaders last only seven innings. Such a game in which one team did not reach first base would not have been credited as a perfect game (similar to weather-shortened games). However, if such a doubleheader game were to have at least two extra innings and one team still did not reach first base, then the game would have been credited as a perfect game.[21] During those two seasons, no potential perfect games were affected but there were two potential no-hitters affected.

Both rule changes were expected to be reversed prior to the 2022 season, but the international tiebreaker was permanently added to the Official rules of Major League Baseball regular season rules in February 2023.[22] The WBSC tiebreaker is not used in postseason play.

In other leagues

In Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), the first perfect game was thrown by Hideo Fujimoto of the Giants on June 28, 1950, against the Nishi Nippon Pirates.[23] 16 total have been thrown in NPB, with the most recent perfect game for NPB by Chiba Lotte Marines pitcher Rōki Sasaki on April 10, 2022.[24] Sasaki tied an existing NPB record by striking out 19 batters, and set a new record by striking out 13 consecutive batters.[25] Sasaki compiled a game score of 106, surpassing the 105 for Kerry Wood's 20 strikeout game from the 1998 Major League Baseball season, which was the highest MLB game score since the end of the baseball color line.[26][27]

On November 1, 2007, a combined perfect game was thrown by the Chunichi Dragons during Game 5 of the 2007 Japan Series. Starting pitcher Daisuke Yamai pitched eight perfect innings and received the win, with Hitoki Iwase receiving the save; the Dragons' victory also resulted in them winning the Japan Series. Although NPB does not recognize this as a perfect game due to it not being a complete game, it is recognized as a perfect game by the World Baseball Softball Confederation. This makes it the only perfect game thrown during the Japan Series, and the only combined perfect game in history to span a regulation nine innings.[28]

On April 11, 2021, University of North Texas softball pitcher Hope Trautwein threw a perfect game, facing 21 batters and striking out all 21. It was the first seven-inning perfect game with every out being a strikeout in NCAA Division I history.[29]

The only perfect game thrown in a Little League World Series championship was by Ángel Macías of the Monterrey, Mexico, team in 1957.[30]

The only perfect game thrown in Chinese Professional Baseball League play was by Ryan Verdugo of the Uni-President Lions on October 7, 2018, against the Chinatrust Brothers, in a game where Kuo Fu-Lin had to hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth to win the game and preserve the perfect game, 1-0. [31]

Four Puerto Rico pitchers combined for an 8-inning perfect game against Israel in the 2023 World Baseball Classic. Starter José De León recorded ten strikeouts in 5+23 innings, and relievers Yacksel Rios, Edwin Diaz, and Duane Underwood Jr. recorded seven more outs before the game ended early because of the mercy rule. It was ruled to not be an official perfect game by the Elias Sports Bureau as they stipulate that a perfect game must last at least 9 innings. De León responded to this saying "It's perfect for us".[32]

Little League World Series

On August 23, 1957, Ángel Macías (12) from the Monterrey, Mexico, team pitched the only perfect game of the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Macías struck out 11 out of the 18 batters he faced (Little League games are 6 innings).[33]

See also


  1. ^ Madden, Bill (September 12, 2008). "Yogi Berra's Favorite Stadium Moment: Don Larsen's Perfect Game". Daily News. Archived from the original on November 2, 2010. Retrieved February 5, 2010.
  2. ^ "MLB Official Info". MLB Advanced Media. 2019. Archived from the original on November 8, 2020. Retrieved July 14, 2019.
  3. ^ "MLB Miscellany: Rules, Regulations and Statistics". Major League Baseball. Archived from the original on November 8, 2020. Retrieved August 20, 2007.
  4. ^ "Looking at MLB's 19 combined no-hitters". Archived from the original on 2022-07-01. Retrieved 2022-06-25.
  5. ^ "History: No-hitters". Major League Baseball. Archived from the original on May 10, 2021. Retrieved August 22, 2007.
  6. ^ Deutsch et al. (1975), p. 68. This source also includes an 1880 clipping from the New York Herald describing Lee Richmond's perfect game for Worcester. A double error by Cleveland resulted in the lone run scoring, and the writer described it as "the only lapse from perfect play made by the Clevelands during the game"; the use of the word "perfect" in this context refers only to defensive play, a different meaning than its modern baseball sense, as Cleveland's pitcher also surrendered three hits and a walk. See Deutsch et al. (1975), p. 14. Writeups for the Ward perfect game of 1880 and the Young game of 1904 describe the games as "wonderful" and other effusive terms, but do not use the term "perfect game".
  7. ^ Buckley (2002), p. 16, citing Paul Dickson, The Dickson Baseball Dictionary (1989); Coffey (2004), p. 50. The Baseball Cyclopedia reference came in a supplement to the 1922 edition of the book (a publication of Baseball Magazine) and was worded thus: "Charles Robertson of Chicago Americans pitched an absolutely perfect no-hit game against Detroit on April 30, 1922, no one reaching first." The publication listed all the perfect games to that point (a total of five, including Robertson's) and used the term "perfect game" matter-of-factly, possibly indicating the term was already familiar to the readership. Lanigan's work references a 1914 book called Balldom as a source for his list of perfect games, although Balldom itself does not use the term "perfect game", merely characterizing the games as "no batter reached first base." Lanigan was also familiar with Sanborn's baseball articles, making various references to him elsewhere in the Cyclopedia, although there is nothing indicating that Sanborn necessarily inspired Lanigan's use of the term.
  8. ^ Buckley (2002), p. 15.
  9. ^ Buckley (2002), p. 26.
  10. ^ All-American Girls Professional Baseball League Record Book – W. C. Madden. Publisher: McFarland & Company, 2000. Format: Paperback, 294pp. Language: English. ISBN 978-0-7864-3747-4
  11. ^ "Jean Faut, Star Pitcher in Women's Baseball League, Dies at 98". The New York Times. March 9, 2023. Archived from the original on March 16, 2023. Retrieved March 21, 2023.
  12. ^ "Jean Faut (1925–2023), AAGPBL pitcher with two perfect games". The American Girls Baseball, Inc. 6 March 2023. Archived from the original on 21 March 2023. Retrieved 21 March 2023.
  13. ^ "David Cone Perfect Game Box Score by Baseball Almanac". 1999-07-18. Archived from the original on 2011-11-08. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  14. ^ "Len Barker Perfect Game Box Score". Baseball-Almanac. Archived from the original on August 18, 2012. Retrieved April 27, 2012.
  15. ^ "Dennis Martinez Perfect Game Box Score". Baseball-Almanac. Archived from the original on November 8, 2011. Retrieved April 28, 2012.
  16. ^ Chen, Sonja. "Germán delivers MLB's 1st perfect game since 2012". MLB Advanced Media, LP. Archived from the original on 29 June 2023. Retrieved 29 June 2023.
  17. ^ Axisa, Mike (2023-06-29). "Domingo Germán perfect game: Seven notable facts, including good omen for Yankees and the righty's inspiration". CBS Sports. Retrieved 2023-06-30.
  18. ^ Young (1997), p. 29.
  19. ^ Forker, Obojski, and Stewart (2004), p. 116.
  20. ^ "MLB ghost runner rule: League makes extra-innings change permanent for regular-season games, per report". CBS Sports. February 14, 2023.
  21. ^ Kelly, Matt (August 5, 2020). "Rules for pitcher feats in 7-inning twin bills". MLB Advanced Media. Archived from the original on May 12, 2022. Retrieved May 11, 2022.
  22. ^ Casella, Paul (13 February 2023). "Automatic runner permanent; new position-player pitching rules". Major League Baseball.
  23. ^ "完全試合をくらった球団". 西日本新聞me (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 2022-03-19. Retrieved 2022-03-19.
  24. ^ Levin, Josh (April 17, 2022). "Roki Sasaki Just Pulled Off One of the Greatest Feats in Sports History". Retrieved June 29, 2023.
  25. ^ Mather, Victor (11 April 2022). "Roki Sasaki of Japan Strikes Out 19 in Perfect Game – The New York Times". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 11 April 2022. Retrieved April 11, 2022.
  26. ^ Anderson, R.J. (April 11, 2022). "20-year-old pitching phenom Roki Sasaki throws perfect game with 19 strikeouts in Japan's NPB". CBS Sports. Archived from the original on April 10, 2022. Retrieved April 11, 2022.
  27. ^ Anderson, R.J. (April 11, 2022). "Roki Sasaki scouting report: What to know about Japanese phenom, his possible MLB debut date and elite heat". CBS Sports. Archived from the original on April 11, 2022. Retrieved April 11, 2022.
  28. ^ "Chunichi Dragons win Series with perfect game". The New York Times. 2007-11-01. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2024-02-21.
  29. ^ Associated Press (April 11, 2021). "North Texas softball pitcher Hope Trautwein strikes out all 21 batters in perfect game". ESPN. Archived from the original on April 13, 2021. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  30. ^ Morrison, Jim (April 5, 2010). "The Little League World Series' Only Perfect Game". Archived from the original on September 28, 2015. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
  31. ^ "Uni-Lions' Ryan Verdugo Throws First Perfect Game in CPBL History". CPBLStats. Retrieved 2023-08-18.
  32. ^ "Puerto Rico pitchers 'perfect' in 10-0 win at WBC". 2023-03-14. Archived from the original on 2023-03-21. Retrieved 2023-03-14.
  33. ^ Morrison, Jim (5 April 2010). "The Little League World Series' Only Perfect Game". Retrieved 28 September 2015.


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External links

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