Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The fifth and sixth perfect games

The fifth – Jim Bunning June 21 1964 6-0 versus the Mets
The sixth – Sandy Koufax September 9, 1965 1-0 versus the White Sox


1 comment:

  1. The background for the Bunning game was the changing face of baseball. Money, TV rights, the shift West, player advocacy against the reserve clause. Bunning is portrayed as a leader of the player revolution – so much so that when he was traded to PHI it was insinuated that it was because of his outspoken nature on player versus owner issues. While it is possible that this was a contributing factor, the author conveniently ignores that was on the wrong side of 30, he had just come off a losing season and his ERA had risen four straight years. But of course why should the facts get in the way of a good argument. The author actually takes a few shots at Bunning later saying how it was ironic that he was such a leader for players rights and the Palo Alto, but since being elected to the Senate he has been right leaning and anti-labor.

    The game itself was not much of a contest. These were the lovable loser Mets. The crowd embraced Bunning’s father day effort. There was not much to cheer about in NY that day other than Bunning’s aim for perfection. It was very hot that day. And the Phillies were also hot on the course toward a pennant. Of course this was the year they blew a 6.5 game lead with 12 to play - they lost 10 in a row down the stretch (managed by the recently deceased Gene Mauch, rest his soul). Some say the Phils had it coming. In early August they cancelled a game versus the Dodgers due to bad weather, which is the home team’s right up until the first pitch is thrown. However it was sunny that day and there was a possibility of bad storms later. Of course the real storm was that Koufax was scheduled to pitch and the Phils wanted nothing to do with that. The make up date offered was September 8. Which also happened to be Rosh Hashanah. And of course the Phils knew that Koufax would not pitch. After that it was all down hill for the Phils – they lost the makeup game they lost TWO (not one, but two) games when the opposition stole home for the deciding run, their late season acquisition veteran Frank Thomas broke his hand and went on the DL, and the Phils just had no pitching to hold on. It is sad that Gene Mauch will always be associated with three of the biggest collapses ever – 84 Phillies, and the 82 and 86 Angels.

    As for the Koufax game – again a lot of focus on player versus owner issues. In this case it was the joint holdout of Sandy and Don Drysdale. For an excellent account of not only this game, but the career of Sandy, read Jane Leavy’s “Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy.” A very good read. Earl ranks it among his best baseball books ever and, while it did not manage to crack my top 5, it may make it in my top 12.

    This might have been the best perfect game of all. Koufax dominated. He struck out 14. But Cubs pitcher Bob Hendly was equally as strong. He would only allow one hit. Hendly would take his no hitter into the 7th, although he already trailed 1-0 on a walk, sacrifice bunt, a SB of third and an error by the catcher on the throw. A double no-hotter was a possibility. Sandy would finish the year 26-8 with a 2.04 ERA and 282 Ks and 27-9 1.73 in 1966 and promptly retire. Truly Amazing.