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Sports Then and Now

Mark Buehrle Gives Baseball Rare Perfect Moment

Posted on July 23, 2009 by Dean Hybl
Mark Buehrle becomes only the 18th pitcher in baseball history to throw a perfect game.

Mark Buehrle becomes only the 18th pitcher in baseball history to throw a perfect game.

There might be rarer events in sports than the “Perfect Game” in Major League Baseball, but there are none that have the same magic as when a pitcher and defense combine to hold the opposition without a single base runner in a nine-inning game.

The perfect game by Chicago White Sox hurler Mark Buerhle on Thursday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Rays was the result not just of Buehrle’s fine work, but also of the “magic” of the entire team.

A grand slam home run in the second inning by Josh Fields gave Buehrle the cushion he needed and the lefty masterfully held the Rays in check.

Buehrle reached a three-ball count only five times in the game and most defensive plays were pretty much routine until the ninth inning.

Then, manager Ozzie Guillen made a move that turned out to be crucial to Buehrle’s quest.

He inserted Dewayne Wise in centerfield and moved Scott Podsednik to leftfield.

Sure enough, the first batter of the inning, Gabe Kapler, launched a rocket to left-center that Wise timed perfectly. He caught the ball above the wall and after momentarily juggling it, secured it with his bare hand to register the out.

After that, there was little doubt that the perfect game was destined to happen and Buerhle easily registered the final two outs.

Buehrle and his teammates celebrate their moment of perfection.

Buehrle and his teammates celebrate their moment of perfection.

The no-no is the second of Buehrle’s career. During his first in 2007 against Texas he also faced 27 batters, but it wasn’t a perfect game. He walked Sammy Sosa before then picking him off first base.

This time there were no walks or missed chances.

Buehrle becomes only the 11th pitcher in American League history, and first in just over a decade to throw a perfect game.

Including the National League, there have now been 18 total perfect games and 16 since 1900.

Interestingly, the last two pitchers to throw perfect games, Buehrle and Randy Johnson, both previously had thrown a no-hitter before reaching perfection.

Of the 18 pitchers to throw perfect games, Buehrle is the sixth to register more than one no-hitter. He joins Cy Young, Addie Joss, Jim Bunning, Sandy Koufax and Johnson as members of this very exclusive club. As a footnote, Mike Witt threw a perfect game in 1984 and then pitched two innings in a shared no-hitter with Mark Langston in 1990.

The White Sox also join Cleveland and New York as the only teams to have more than one perfect game in franchise history. Charlie Robertson threw the first perfect game in White Sox history in 1922.

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