The Events You Missed
Yesterday, Dallas Braden threw the 19th perfect game in major league history, and I did nothing more than follow the 9th inning online. That is one of the consequences of a great pitching performance on Mother’s Day: Almost no one will be able to watch. This does not make Braden stand out in my life as a baseball fan, though. In all my years of baseball viewing, I have never seen a perfect game. I watched one no hitter live, and given that it was thrown by the immortal Bud Smith it helped to de-mystify that particular genre. Nonetheless, I have missed every perfect game in my lifetime, and there have now been a number. This leads to my question for today: What baseball event that you did not see do you most wish that you had seen?
Baseball is full of great moments, but most of those are single instants. I did not see Willie Mays’ catch live, but I can easily pull it up on You Tube anytime I want. The same is true for Bobby Thompson’s home run. As a Twins fan, I recognize that the most significant events in baseball history were Kirby Puckett’s home run to end Game 6 of the 1991 World Series and Gene Larkin’s single to win Game 7. Those two I saw live, so they can’t be the answer. Given how easy it is to find highlights for single events that have happened in the last 60 years, I will by default exclude them, even if I did not see them live.
For me, then, that leaves four events that for whatever stick out to me. I will count them down in reverse order.
Three things stick out for this game. First, and most obviously, Addie Joss threw a perfect game. This has only happened 18 other times in baseball history. Second, Joss only threw 74 pitches. You simply cannot be more efficient. The next closest is the 88 pitches thrown by David Cone in his perfect game. Third, you can make the case that Joss was outpitched. In defeat, Ed Walsh struck out 15, and he gave up only a single unearned run. He allowed 5 total baserunners. To me, this is the pitcher’s duel of all pitcher’s duels, slightly ahead of Sandy Koufax’s perfect game, when the loser only gave up a single hit.
#3: The Speech
This is the classiest moment in baseball history. Even knowing that Gary Cooper probably did it better in the movie, I get chills even thinking about this moment. If you have a spare moment and some tissues handy, click on the link and listen to Lou Gehrig. That is how it is done.
This moment changed baseball. When Robinson stepped out onto Ebbets Field for the first time, he changed the game forever. In terms of significance, this one tops the list. The only reason I put it #2 for me is that as a game it is nothing special. The Dodgers lost to the Braves 5-3, and Robinson went 0-3. For history alone, it makes it to #2.
What does your list look like? What is the best baseball moment you ever saw live and the one you wished you had seen?
#1: Don Larsen.
Done only once. Never been seriously approached on another occasion. Done against a lineup with 4 future Hall of Famers and other excellent players like Gil Hodges, Jim Gilliam, and Carl Furillo. (Sandy Amoros couldn’t hit, so he doesn’t count.) Series was tied 2-2 at the time, just to add to the pressure. The game was even well-celebrated. Imagine your reward for pitching the only perfect game in World Series history: You have to carry Yogi Berra off the field. If I could have seen any baseball moment live, this one would be at the top of my list.