On June 28, 2023, Domingo Germán of the New York Yankees pitched the 24th perfect game in MLB history against the Oakland Athletics. Germán retired all 27 batters with 9 strikeouts on 99 pitches, marking a remarkable turnaround after his previous struggles on the mound.
Major League Baseball has witnessed some truly remarkable pitching performances throughout its history, but none are as elusive and impressive as the perfect game. It occurs when a pitcher retires all 27 batters he faces, without allowing a single baserunner. Over the course of 140 years and more than 235,500 games, there have been only 24 official perfect games in Major League Baseball, making them a rare and extraordinary occurrence.
The First Perfect Game
The first perfect game in major league history was pitched by Lee Richmond on June 12, 1880. At that time, the rules of the game were quite different. Underhand pitching was allowed, and it took eight balls to draw a walk. Despite these challenges, Richmond managed to achieve perfection. The second one came just five days later, on June 17, 1880, when John Montgomery Ward accomplished the feat. These two games marked the only perfect games of the premodern era.
The Legend of the Perfect Game
Since then, perfect games have become increasingly rare and more difficult to achieve. The frequency of them has significantly increased since 1981. From 1980 through 2023, 15 perfect games were thrown, compared to only nine in the prior 100-plus seasons. The year 2012 stands out as a particularly remarkable year, with three of them recorded. However, there have also been spans of 23 and 33 consecutive seasons without one, highlighting their extraordinary nature.
Several legendary pitchers have etched their names in baseball history by throwing perfect games. These include Cy Young, Addie Joss, Jim Bunning, Sandy Koufax, Catfish Hunter, Randy Johnson, and Roy Halladay, all of whom have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Each pitcher brought their unique skills and talents to the mound, leaving an indelible mark on the game.
While many perfect game pitchers were accomplished major leaguers, some achieved this remarkable feat despite having relatively modest careers. Dallas Braden, Philip Humber, and Len Barker are examples of pitchers who retired with losing records or had short careers but were able to achieve perfection on a given day. Their perfect games serve as a testament to the unpredictable and awe-inspiring nature of baseball.
Domingo Germán’s 24th Perfect Gam
The most recent addition to the exclusive list of perfect game pitchers is Domingo Germán of the New York Yankees. On June 28, 2023, Germán retired all 27 Oakland Athletics batters he faced, striking out nine along the way. This was the fourth one thrown by a Yankee and the 13th no-hitter in franchise history. Germán’s remarkable performance came after a challenging stretch in his previous starts, making his achievement even more impressive.
Perfect games are the pinnacle of pitching excellence in baseball. They require a combination of skill, focus, and a touch of luck. As fans, we are fortunate to witness these rare and extraordinary moments when a pitcher achieves perfection on the field. Each perfect game adds another chapter to the rich history of Major League Baseball and serves as a reminder of the greatness that can be achieved on the diamond.
All 24 Perfect Games in MLB History
Lee Richmond’s Historic Feat
Date: June 12, 1880
Lee Richmond of the Worcester Worcesters pitched the first perfect game in major league history. It remains an extraordinary accomplishment given the vastly different rules and conditions of the premodern era.
John Montgomery Ward’s Unmatched Brilliance
Date: June 17, 1880
John Montgomery Ward of the Providence Grays followed Richmond’s lead just five days later, pitching the second one. His achievement stands as the shortest time span between major league perfect games.
Cy Young’s Record-Setting Dominance
Date: May 5, 1904
Hall of Famer Cy Young threw the first perfect game of the modern era. It was part of his remarkable streak of 45 consecutive scoreless innings, which remains a record to this day.
Addie Joss’ Tense Battle
Date: October 2, 1908
Addie Joss pitched his perfect game in a high-stakes matchup, with his Cleveland Naps vying for the pennant. The game ended in a 1-0 victory, securing Joss’ place in history.
Charlie Robertson’s Unexpected Gem
Date: April 30, 1922
Charlie Robertson, a journeyman pitcher with a losing record, surprised the baseball world with his perfect game. It included an accusation of ball tampering, adding intrigue to the feat.
Don Larsen’s World Series Perfection
Date: October 8, 1956
In Game 5 of the World Series, Don Larsen etched his name in baseball lore by throwing the only perfect game in postseason history. His achievement remains an iconic moment in the sport.
Jim Bunning’s Father’s Day Triumph
Date: June 21, 1964
On Father’s Day, Jim Bunning tossed a perfect game for the Philadelphia Phillies. His impeccable performance was a gift to all fathers and baseball fans alike.
Sandy Koufax’s Nighttime Mastery
Date: September 9, 1965
Sandy Koufax dazzled under the lights, throwing a perfect game against the Chicago Cubs. It marked the first one in history to be pitched at night.
Catfish Hunter’s Historic Performance
Date: May 8, 1968
Catfish Hunter not only pitched a perfect game but also delivered an exceptional offensive display. He went 3 for 4 at the plate, including a bunt single and three RBIs.
Len Barker’s Impeccable Control
Date: May 15, 1981
Len Barker achieved perfection with incredible precision, not allowing a single three-ball count during the game. His performance remains one of the most controlled in history.
Mike Witt’s Memorable Season Finale
Date: September 30, 1984
On the last day of the 1984 season, Mike Witt threw a perfect game for the California Angels. It was a fitting end to the year and a remarkable individual accomplishment.
Tom Browning’s Rain-Delayed Heroics
Date: September 16, 1988
Tom Browning pitched his perfect game after enduring a 2-hour, 27-minute rain delay. Despite the interruption, he maintained his focus and completed the flawless performance.
Dennis Martínez’s International Achievement
Date: July 28, 1991
Dennis Martínez became the first pitcher born outside of the United States to throw a perfect game. Hailing from Granada, Nicaragua, he added a global touch to the historic milestone.
Kenny Rogers’ Defensive Marvel
Date: July 28, 1994
Rusty Greer’s spectacular diving catch in the ninth inning preserved Kenny Rogers’ perfect game. Greer’s heroics secured a place in history for both the pitcher and the fielder.
David Wells’ Hangover Heroics
Date: May 17, 1998
Pitching with a “raging, skull-rattling hangover,” David Wells threw a perfect game for the New York Yankees. His achievement while battling personal challenges makes it all the more remarkable.
David Cone’s Yogi Berra Day Triumph
Date: July 18, 1999
On the day dedicated to Yogi Berra, David Cone delivered a perfect game for the Yankees. It was a poignant moment as Cone’s catcher, Berra, had caught the only previous perfect game in World Series history.
Randy Johnson’s Age-Defying Perfection
Date: May 18, 2004
At the age of 40, Randy Johnson became the oldest pitcher to throw a perfect game. Standing tall at 6’10”, he utilized his imposing presence to dominate opposing hitters.
Mark Buehrle’s Historic White Sox Moment
Date: July 23, 2009
Mark Buehrle’s perfect game included a dramatic catch by DeWayne Wise to rob a home run. Buehrle’s accomplishment made him the first pitcher to throw one with a grand slam in the same game.
Dallas Braden’s Mother’s Day Triumph
Date: May 9, 2010
Pitching on Mother’s Day, Dallas Braden threw a perfect game for the Oakland Athletics. His achievement, dedicated to his late mother, added an emotional layer to the historic moment.
Roy Halladay’s Dual Mastery
Date: May 29, 2010
Roy Halladay threw a perfect game against the Florida Marlins during the regular season. He followed it up with another no-hitter in the postseason, cementing his status as one of the game’s elite pitchers.
Philip Humber’s Unexpected Perfection
Date: April 21, 2012
Philip Humber, with a career record of 16-23, pitched a perfect game for the Chicago White Sox. It was the only complete game he ever recorded, making it an extraordinary accomplishment. Humber’s perfect game ended on bizarre strike 3 wild pitch with the runner refusing to run to 1st.
Matt Cain’s Giants Franchise First
Date: June 13, 2012
Matt Cain threw the first perfect game in San Francisco Giants franchise history. His 14 strikeouts tied Sandy Koufax’s record for the most strikeouts in a perfect game.
Félix Hernández’s Regal Performance
Date: August 15, 2012
Félix Hernández, known as “King Félix,” delivered the first perfect game in Seattle Mariners history. With 12 strikeouts and 26 swinging strikes, he showcased his dominance on the mound.
Domingo Germán’s Yankee Perfection
Date: June 28, 2023
Domingo Germán threw the most recent perfect game, becoming the fourth Yankee to achieve this milestone. It came after a challenging stretch, making his achievement all the more remarkable.