- Three Pittsburgh Pirate pitchers made baseball history, see if you know any of them. First, this man pitched what was arguably the greatest game ever, a perfect game through 12 full innings against the Milwaukee Braves in 1959. Many years later through one of the dumbest rulings by a commissioner, this man was striped of being recognized as having thrown a “perfecto” despite retiring 36 men in a row, nine more than what is normally required to get credit for a no-hitter or perfect game. So, he goes BEYOND perfection yet has credit for this remarkable feat taken away from him. Even the opposing pitcher that day would go on to say, “I have to be the greatest pitcher who ever pitched because I beat the guy who pitched the greatest game ever pitched.”
- The next hurler compiled a record of 18-1 in 1959, an historic year for Pirates pitchers. That works out to a blistering win-loss percentage of .947, the highest in baseball history (the second best percentage is .938 by Johnny Allen who went 15-1 in 1937). At 5′ 8″, the Pirate pitcher in question won 22 in a row dating back to 1958 over a span of 97 appearances. He began ’59 at 17-0 before dropping his first decision. A researcher determined he would also have had 10 saves that season if that stat had been kept back then.
- Our final pitcher spent only 12 games during the 1952 season in the majors, but what he had done as a minor leaguer defies belief. This man retired 27 men on strikeouts in a nine-inning contest. It should be noted that he did not throw a no-hitter, and one of the whiffs came on a batter who reached base when the third strike was not cleanly fielded– still, 27 strikeouts in a game is remarkable.
Answers: 1) Harvey Haddix, a.k.a. The Kitten (for his resemblance to a teammate he had on the Cardinals, Harry “The Cat” Brecheen) threw 12 perfect innings. Amazingly, the game featured only two pitchers as he and Lew Burdette both went the distance with “Nitro” Lew getting the 1-0 win. The Pirates were blanked despite having a three-hit inning in which they failed to score (one runner was thrown out at third base).
Not only would it be impossible nowadays for Burdette (and maybe even Haddix?? but I sure hope not) to go the route, but it also seems improbable or impossible for a 13-inning game to go as quickly as was the case in Haddix’s gem–that game was completed in under three hours at 2:54. Haddix went to ball three on only one batter–he threw 115 pitches with the most in an inning coming in the 12th inning when he threw just 14 pitches. Plus, only 33 of his pitches were out of the strike zone. In other words, 71% of his pitches were strikes.
If anyone wants more info on how he lost the perfect game in the 13th inning, contact me via Comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org Likewise, there’s more to the stories about the next two pitchers which I can add later this month upon request.
2. Elroy Face
3. Ron Nicciai