Three have been just 23 perfect games pitched in Major League Baseball since the league’s inception well over a century ago. Nobody has ever tossed more than one perfect game and 22 of them have come in regular-season play with one of them being thrown in the 1956 World Series. The first pair of perfect games came back in 1880 before what is known as baseball’s modern era and the last was witnessed in 2012.
There must have been something in the air that year as there were three perfect games recorded in 2012. This list features the last 15 pitchers to throw perfect games. It gives a brief description of their careers and the achievement and also lets fans know what each pitcher got up to after retiring. Two of them were inducted into the Hall of Fame and sadly one of them has passed away. Most of these pitchers played in several All-Star Games and several of them were also Cy Young Award winners.
Not all of the 15 pitchers listed here were All-Stars though as a couple of them were just solid pros who may have been considered journeymen pitchers who retired with losing records. It just goes to show though that you don’t have to enjoy a perfect Major League career to be perfect for nine innings and place yourself in the history books.
15 Felix Hernandez (August 15, 2012)
The last perfect game was thrown by Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners back on August 15, 2012 at Safeco Field. It’s the only one in franchise history and Seattle’s fourth no hitter as the Mariners downed Tampa Bay 1-0. Hernandez had 12 strikeouts and threw 113 pitches. He told the press after the game that he was thinking he might be perfect as early as the second inning. Ironically, Tampa has been on the losing side of four of history’s 23 perfect games. Hernandez of Venezuela is still only 30 years old and the right-hander is still pitching for the Mariners after breaking into the league with them in 2005. He holds the franchise record for strikeouts and wins and entered the 2017 season with 2,264 K’s, a record of 154-109 and a 3.16 ERA.
14 Matt Cain (June 13, 2012)
The San Francisco Giants hammered Houston 10-0 at home on June 13, 2012 and outhit them 15-0. But the most memorable thing about the game was the 125-pitch perfect game by right-hander Matt Cain as he tied Sandy Koufax with 14 strikeouts for the most K’s in a perfect game. He tanked outfielders Melky Cabrera and Gregor Blanco afterwards as they each made a spectacular catch to preserve perfection. The 32-year-old Cain debuted with the Giants in 2005 and is still with them. The three-time All-Star may be just 101-107 to start this season, but he’s won three World Series and was the winning pitcher for each playoff series-clinching contest in 2012. Cain was given the key to the city after the perfect game and June 13th is now known as "Matt Cain Day" in San Francisco..
13 Philip Humber ( April 21, 2012)
Philip Humber of the Chicago White Sox pitched the first of three perfect games in the Majors in 2012 on April 21st in a 4-0 road win over Seattle. He achieved it on 96 pitches and it was his first-ever complete game in the Majors and the third perfect game for the White Sox. The Yankees and Sox are the only two teams to have recorded a trio of perfect games. The 34-year-old right-hander left MLB after the 2013 season with a 16-23 record and 5.31 ERA, making him statistically the worst of the 23 pitchers to have recorded a perfect game. He went to play in Korea in 2015, but was released a few months later Humber then signed a minor-league contract with San Diego and then retired after spring training of 2016 and resides in Tyler, Texas.
12 Roy Halladay (May 29, 2010)
Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies threw the second perfect game of 2010 on May 29th; just 20 days after Dallas Braden threw his with a 1-0 win over the Marlins in Florida. The right-hander almost threw another perfect game a few months later in the NL Division Series, but ended up with a walk and finished the contest with a no-hitter. He’s the only pitcher to have a no-hitter and perfect game in the same campaign and the fifth ever to hurl two no-hitters. Halladay was an eight-time All Star, won two Cy Young awards and retired in 2013 with a 203-105 record. The 39-year-old, who is known for his charity work, acts as a guest instructor for Philadelphia and his former team Toronto and now resides in Florida with his family.
11 Dallas Braden (May 9, 2010)
Dallas Braden of the Oakland Athletics pitched a perfect game on May 9th, 2010, which was Mothers’ Day, in a 4-0 home win over Tampa. His grandmother, who raised him after his mother passed away, went down to the field to celebrate with him. The left-hander from Phoenix is now 33 years and played from 2007 to 2011 with Oakland before running into injury problems and retiring in 2014. He was honoured with the key to the city of Stockton, California, where he played minor league ball. Braden went into broadcasting at ESPN in 2014 on Baseball Tonight and as a color commentator for games. He then joined Monday Night Baseball in 2016. Braden still does plenty of charity work in Stockton and was presented with a community service award from the University of the Pacific.
10 Mark Buehrle (July 23, 2009)
Mark Buehrle threw his perfect game for the Chicago White Sox on July 23rd 2009 in a 5-0 home win over Tampa. Fielder DeWayne Wise saved his bacon in the last inning with a dramatic wall-climbing catch. This was the second no-hitter for Buehrle and he went 5 2/3 perfect innings in his next game to set a then-MLB record for retiring 45 straight batters. The 38-year-old left-hander retired after the 2015 season with a 214-160 record following a 16-year-career with Chicago, Miami and Toronto. The five-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner won the World Series in 2005 and his number 56 will be retired by the White Sox this June 24th. Buehrle now spends his time with his family and dogs on their Missouri farm and says he’s been too busy to miss baseball.
9 Randy Johnson (May 18, 2004)
The oldest pitcher to throw a perfect game was Randy Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks at 40 when he beat the Braves 2-0 in Atlanta on May 18th, 2004. It was the second no-hitter of his 22-year career. ‘The Big Unit’ retired in 2010 with numerous awards including a World Series MVP, 10-All-Star nods and five Cy Young’s. The Hall of Famer went 303-166 with a 3.29 ERA. His 4,875 strikeouts rank second all-time and his 10.67 strikeouts per nine innings rank first. Johnson, a devout Christian, took up photography after baseball and was named Arizona’s assistant to the GM in early 2015. He’s appeared on TV in The Simpsons and Franklin & Bash and in the movies Little Big League and Major League 2. In addition, he’s filmed several commercials and is a character in Backyard Baseball games.
8 David Cone (July 18,1999)
David Cone threw his perfect at home at Yankee Stadium on Yogi Berra Day, July 18th, 1999 in a 6-0 win over the Montreal Expos. Cone threw just 88 pitches and it’s the only perfect game in an interleague contest. Cone retired in 2001 after 16 years in the Majors. The right-hander was a five-time All-Star and World Series winner who captured the Cy Young in 1994. He attempted a short-lived comeback with the Mets in 2003 which cost him his commentator’s job at the Yankees’-owned YES TV. Cone was offered a broadcasting position by the Mets in 2003, but turned it down to spend time with his family. He rejoined YES in 2008 then left and joined again in 2011 and the 54-year-old is still broadcasting Yankees games with the YES network today.
7 David Wells (May 17, 1998)
Left-hander David ‘Boomer’ Wells may have been a flake, but still threw a perfect game for the Yankees on May 17th, 1998. At the time, Wells claimed he was hungover when beating Minnesota 6-0 at Yankee Stadium. Wells played from 1987 to 2007 with a record of 239-157. He’s a three-time All-Star and two-time World Series winner. The 53-year-old resides in San Diego, entered broadcasting with TBS in 2009 and in 2011 began hosting The Cheap Seats for FOXSports.com. Wells was also featured in an episode of One on One on television and got into coaching at Point Loma High School in San Diego in 2014 where the home stadium is known as David Wells Field. Ironically, Wells and Don Larsen, who threw the first perfect game for the Yankees, both attended the school.
6 Kenny Rogers (July 28, 1994)
Texas Rangers’ Kenny ‘The Gambler’ Rogers also benefited from fielding help to preserve his perfect game as Rusty Greer made a sensational diving catch in the ninth inning on July 28th 1994. This enabled Rogers to beat California 4-0 at home that day. He whiffed eight batters in the contest and needed only 98 pitches for the perfect outing. The left-hander pitched from 1989 to 2008 and went 219-156. He was a four-time All-Star, a World Series winner and an excellent fielder who won five Gold Gloves. He suffered injuries in 2007 and 2008, but never officially retired. Rogers was inducted into the Rangers Hall of Fame in 2011 and worked with the Detroit Tigers as a spring-training pitching instructor for a few years. The 52-year-old enjoys fishing, golf, and building homes for Habitat for Humanity.
5 Dennis Martinez (July 28, 1991)
‘El Presidente’ Dennis Martinez of Nicaragua was the first foreign-born pitcher to hurl a perfect game when the Montreal Expos beat the Dodgers 2-0 on the west coast on July 28th 1991. Martinez compiled a 245-193 record from 1976 to 1998 with 2,149 strikeouts. The four-time All-Star is now 61 years old and has been busy since retiring. Martinez worked a couple of years for Baltimore as a spring training coach and coached in the Florida State League. He also lasted about a year as Houston’s bullpen coach from 2012 to 2013 and then took over as manager of the Nicaraguan national team. Managua’s ballpark is named the Dennis Martinez National Stadium and he was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. He also heads the Dennis Martinez Foundation to help the world’s poor children.
4 Tom Browning (September 16, 1988)
The game between the Reds and Dodgers didn’t start until 10 PM on September 16th, 1988 in Cincinatti due to rain. That didn’t deter left-hander Tom Browning of the Reds though as he tossed a perfect game in a 1-0 victory. A year later he fell just short of a second perfect game when he gave up a hit in the ninth inning. Browning pitched from 1984 to 1995, went 123-90, recorded 1,000 strikeouts and won a World Series. He’s a Reds Hall of Famer and worked with the team as spring training instructor after retiring. He worked as a broadcaster for the Dayton Dragons minor league club and became their pitching coach in 2012. Browning also wrote a book called Tom Browning's Tales from the Reds Dugout and has recently been speaking at sports functions.
3 Mike Witt (September 30, 1984)
Mike Witt of the California Angels waited until September 30th, 1984, the very last day of the season, to throw a perfect game in a 1-0 win in Texas. Witt struck out 10 batters along the way, but there were just over 8,000 fans on hand to witness history as both the Angels and Rangers were out of the playoff race. The 6-foot-7-inch 56-year-old right-hander pitched from 1981 to 1993 with a 3.83 ERA and over 1,300 strikeouts. The two-time All-Star also combined on a no-hitter in 1990. Witt, who hails from Fullerton, California, was inducted into the Angels Hall of Fame after retiring. He then got into coaching in the local area with travel and high school teams where he was able to coach his sons and also spends a lot of time on the golf course.
2 Len Barker (May 15, 1981)
The Toronto Blue Jays were basically the new kids on the block back in 1981 and were on the losing end of Len Barker's perfect game when Cleveland beat them 3-0 on May 15th. He struck out seven of the last eight batters at the home game and never saw the count reach ball three. Barker was the first pitcher to throw a perfect game who didn’t have to bat in the contest since the designated hitter rule was recently introduced. The 62-year-old right-hander pitched from 1976 to 1987 and went just 74-76 with a 4.34 ERA. However, he was a two-time AL All-Star and strikeout leader. Barker moved back to the Cleveland area after retiring and opened a construction company. He also became the head coach for Notre Dame College of Division II in the region.
1 Catfish Hunter (May 8, 1968)
Jim ‘Catfish Hunter’ helped his own cause when tossing a perfect game for Oakland in a 4-0 home win over Minnesota on May 8, 1968. Hunter drove in three runs by going 3 for 4 at the plate with a double and bunt single. At just 22, Hunter was also the youngest pitcher to toss a perfect game in the modern era. The right-hander pitched from 1965 to 1979 with Oakland and the Yankees and won five World Series rings. He was an eight-time All-Star who won the 1974 AL Cy Young Award. Hunter retired at the age of 33 and was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame several years later. Unfortunately, he passed away at home in Hertford, North Carolina from Lou Gehrig's disease at the age of 53 on September 9th, 1999.
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