July 18, 2012 - Baseball Fans Get a Perfect Game


Baseball has always seemed just a little too slow and boring to watch, I've always thought. And a perfect game must just start out sooooooooo boring.

Because in that game, one team would just never get on base. No hits, no runs. No walks. No errors (at least, none that result with a player getting on base!) A shut-out. A no-hitter.

But then..through all the haze of boredom—hey, nothing's happening here—the audience would start to realize: hey, so far, it's a perfect game!

And that doesn't happen very often. So all of a sudden a boring game would become an exciting game.

And I imagine that's what happened in Yankee Stadium when David Cone was pitching for the New York Yankees on this date in 1999. I imagine the home crowd beginning to whisper that the game had been perfect for Cone, so far—whispering because they would not want to jinx it. (Of course, I'm playing here—there's no such thing as magically jinxing something!) The fans would all be wondering if a Montreal Expo player would get a hit and spoil Cone's perfect game. Would one of the Yankee fielders not get to a fly ball, or maybe make an error? Would Cone himself let down, somehow, and walk somebody?

There was a rain delay. I can just imagine people thinking, once we're back from this rain delay, the perfect game is going to go right down the tubes!

But Expo player after Expo player took the plate and was out – out – out. Cone kept up the pitching, and the Yankees backed him up with excellent fielding. One time the right fielder had to make a diving catch to keep the perfect game going. Another time an Expo hit a ball hard between first and second base. The second baseman shot an expert throw to make the out and save the game.

In the meantime, the Yankees scored five runs! There was a walk and a batter who got on because he was hit by a pitch; Yankees made singles and doubles and two home runs! (Hmm...I guess this was NEVER a boring game. My apologies to baseball fans everywhere!)

That last inning would have been very exciting! Everyone knew by now what was on the line. So far in more than a century of Major League Baseball history, there had only been 15 perfect games. The 42,000 fans must have been holding their collective breath while watching Cone pitch to what they hoped would be the last three batters. The first batter was up—and Cone struck him out. Then the second batter hit a big, soft, easy-to-catch fly ball into left field. But...it wasn't so easy to catch, because the summer afternoon sun was exactly where the ball was. Left fielder Ricky Ledee was blinded and struggled to find the ball in the sky, but he somehow made the catch! And then the last batter popped up a foul ball—and the third baseman caught it, too!

David Cone had pitched the 16th perfect game in all of baseball history, and he fell on his knees, right into the arms of his catcher!

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