The Philadelphia Phillies’ Roy Halladay pitched a perfect game Saturday against the Florida Marlins, winning the contest 1-0. The Major League Baseball (MLB) perfect game is a feat that has only been accomplished 19 other times in the history of the game as a professional sport, a history that spans 135 years. To say that Roy Halladay’s pitching was remarkable is an understatement given the scarcity of the actualization of the perfect game.
The Major League Baseball perfect game is a simple concept. No runner must reach base by an opposing team, therefore reflecting a box score of zeros: no hits and no runs. There can also be no bases won by a walked batter. After nine innings, the opposing team of the perfect game-throwing pitcher will see “27 up, 27 down,” or “3 up, 3 down” nine times.
Roy Halladay’s perfect game for the Phillies would be remarkable simply in the fact that it happened. But it also becomes notable because it is the second perfect game thrown this baseball season, the first time in baseball’s modern era (beginning in 1900) that that particular confluence of events has occurred. Just 20 days previous, Dallas Braden, pitching for the Oakland A’s, tossed a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays. It must be noted, however, that in 1880, two perfect games were thrown just five days apart. Future Hall of Famer Lee Richmond threw the very first perfect game on June 12, 1880. On June 17, John Montgomery Ward threw the second. It would be 24 years before another perfect game was tossed, and that would be achieved by the immortal Cy Young.
Baseball’s perfect game is a singular achievement. Since baseball began its professional run in 1876, no pitcher has ever thrown two perfect games in their career. Only one perfect game has ever been pitched in post-season. That notable achievement occurred when Don Larsen nailed down Game 5 of the 1956 World Series for the New York Yankees (which they would go on to win).
Roy Halladay is the second Philadelphia Phillies pitcher to throw a perfect game. Jim Bunning, who would go on to become a member of the MLB Hall of Fame and currently is a U. S. Senator from the state of Kentucky, threw one in 1964.
But it seems that the perfect game is becoming a bit more routine, relatively speaking. In the last thirty years, there have been eleven perfect games. Perhaps it is a testament to the pitching skills of the modern pitcher. Perhaps the lack of perfect games in the 105 years prior to 1981 are a testament to better hitting. Regardless, Roy Halladay’s perfect game for the first-place Phillies saw only 16 of the 27 batters he faced getting wood on the ball. He retired 11 via strikeout.