Tuesday, June 01, 2010
You're Welcome, Philadelphia!
There is some attention focussed on the Flyers at this time; however, many Philadelphia sports fans are showering the city of Toronto with their gratitude for a very special gift: Harry Leroy “Doc” Halladay.
After twelve years in Toronto with the Blue Jays, Halladay decided it was time to move to a contender, and ended up in Philly. He began the year with a few wins, lost a couple of close games. Then last week, he joined a very select group of Major League baseball pitchers by throwing a perfect game.
Twenty-seven men faced him. Nine innings, three outs per inning. No walks, no hit batters. No one got to first base.
There have been twenty pitchers, in fact, who have pitched perfect games. It is indeed an impressive list: Cy Young, Sandy Koufax, Catfish Hunter, Dennis Martinez, David Wells, Kenny Rogers, Randy Johnson, David Cone, and Don Larsen-the only hurler to accomplish the feat in a World Series game.
Last year, Mark Buehrle threw a perfect game, the first in several years. This season, Halladay’s gem is the second perfect game, following the work of Dallas Braden in Oakland. Expectations are not as high for Braden, a lefty who has lost three games since his “No No”. He has been battling injury, to be fair.
Halladay had previously come within a whisker of a no-hit game a couple of times. On this occasion, he put on his unflappable game face, and went to work. “Early in my bullpen, I was hitting spots more than I have been. I just felt like I just carried that out there.” (to the mound)
The Marlins manager, Fredi Gonzalez, praised Halladay’s effort: “You’ve got to take your hat off to Doc.”
Hallady heaped praise on his battery mate, catcher Carlos Ruiz. ‘We just felt like we were in a groove early, and about the fifth or sixth inning, I was just following Chooch. I can’t say enough about the job he did today.”
National League teams have seen Hallady work in several All Star games. It is indeed a rare occasion when he is not selected to go to the mid season classic. One year, he was bypassed for the game. He ended the season winning sixteen games, losing seven. Pretty fair stats. Lifetime, he has won 155 games, and lost 79. He is now 33 years old, and likely has ten seasons left in his right arm to average fifteen wins a season. That would put him over 300 for his career, an unwritten magical number for the Baseball Hall of Fame.
After the game, he turned over his jersey and hat to the Hall of Fame people. They wrenched the rubber from the mound and gave it to him. “Memories, I think, sometimes last longer than the collection of stuff,” he added. He smiled when asked about conversations with his family after the game. He talked to his wife, but not his kids. “It was too late to talk to my kids!” He did appreciate the call from American Vice President Joe Biden, reputed to be a Phillies fan.
Len Barker pitched a perfect game for the Cleveland Indians several years ago. About fifteen years ago, on a cold and rainy morning in Belleville, he lined up with another ten former Major League players to play a few innings against local talent. I asked him if he ever got bored talking about his perfect game. “Not at all,” he said. “It was just a very special occasion, and I always remember it fondly.”
Barker and Hallady are both imposing figures on the mound, more than six feet, five inches. That is an asset for any pitcher. They both threw hard, with good command when necessary.
Other notables who braved the elements that day in Belleville? Vida Blue, Bert Campaneris, Ron Leflore, George Foster, Bill Lee, Elias Sosa, Rennie Stennett, Ernie Whitt, Paul Blair, and Doug Flynn. Some pretty impressive talent in that group. Sadly, very few fans turned up for the game. Those that did have special memories for a lifetime.
For those of you on the internet, Wikipedia has some fine notes under the title: “Perfect Game”.
But now it’s time for the Stanley Cup finals. The Jays are hosting the Rays. I’ll hold the remote, thanks.
May 31, 2010