This Day In Sports: A perfect game from an unlikely arm

May 9, 2010: Forty-two years and one day after Jim “Catfish” Hunter does it, Dallas Braden throws the second perfect game in Oakland A’s history in a 4-0 win over Tampa Bay. It was the 19th perfect game in big league history, but only Braden’s 18th career victory in the majors—and his first complete game. The moment was especially poignant coming on Mother’s Day, as Major League Baseball brought out the pink bats to bring awareness to breast cancer and the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Braden lost his mother to cancer at the age of 14.

Hunter’s perfect game made sense, But Braden’s did not. He would last only two more years in the majors, with a career record of 26-36 (he’s now a TV broadcaster for the A’s). considers Braden’s gem one of the four most unlikely perfect games in big league history. The other three also came from journeymen, the first from a guy named Charlie Robertson with the Chicago White Sox 100 years ago. Robertson’s career record was 49-80—his .380 winning percentage is the lowest of any pitcher who threw a perfect game.

Don Larsen’s perfect game in 1956 might be the most famous in baseball history, but it was also unlikely. It came in Game 5 of the World Series for the New York Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers, and the image of Yankees catcher Yogi Berra jumping into Larsen’s arms at the end of the game is etched in baseball lore. Larsen had won 11 games during the regular season, and that was his career-high. He had an 81-91 record during a 14-year major league career.

There was another other-worldly performance two years after Braden, as Philip Humber of the White Sox tossed a perfect game in 2012 against Seattle at Safeco Field. Humber went 5-5 that season with a bloated ERA of 6.44. He was in the bullpen by August. He was on waivers by November. And by the following September, then a Houston Astro, Humber had played his last big league game.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)

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