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Sandy Koufax, shown here pitching in the 1963 World Series for the Los Angeles Dodgers, would go on to pitch one of the most memorable perfect games in major league history in 1965.

would wait to decide which player would be traded to the Indians in return. A few weeks later, after the Mets had seen Chiti perform and didn’t like what they saw, they sent him back to the Indians as the “player to be named later.” This gave Chiti the distinction of being the first (and, for now, the only) major league player ever to be traded for himself. As a result of another oddball trade, which took place in 1982 between the New York Mets and the Montreal Expos, Joel Youngblood became the first major league player ever to successfully hit for two different teams on the same day. On one afternoon, he played for the Mets and singled off Cubs pitcher Ferguson Jenkins. Immediately after the game, he was traded to the Montreal Expos. He flew to Philadelphia, where the Expos were playing, and arrived at the ballpark in time to pinch-hit and hit a single off a pitch by the Phillies’ Steve Carlton.

Perfect Games

For many baseball fans the ulti- mate baseball event is a perfect game. A pitcher faces a minimum of twenty- seven batters during a game, and to throw a perfect game means that no batter reaches first base, whether through a walk, a hit, or even a fielding error. There have been just twenty official perfect games in major


league baseball history (twenty-one if you count Armando Galarraga’s June 2, 2010, effort that was ruined by umpire Jim Joyce’s bad call at first base). Six other perfect games have been disallowed because they deviated from the standards governing perfect games set by the Major League Baseball Constitution. Of these games, four are not officially recognized because the games lasted fewer than nine innings, and two other perfect games have been deemed imperfect because they went into extra innings, during which someone got a hit. Perhaps one of the most memorable perfect games in major league history, however, is the one that was pitched by Sandy Koufax of the Los Angeles Dodgers against the visiting Chicago Cubs on September 9, 1965. What made this perfect game stand out from others was the fact that for the first half of the game, Cubs pitcher Bob Hendley was on his way to pitching a perfect game as well.

Hendley’s hopes for a perfect game disappeared during the fifth inning, however, when he walked Dodgers left fielder Lou Johnson. Then Dodgers right fielder Ron Fairly bunted. Called a “sacrifice bunt,” this allowed Johnson to advance to second even though Fairly himself was out. A couple of pitches later, Johnson took off running, attempting to steal third

base. Cubs catcher Chris Krug threw to third base to try to get Johnson out, but his throw sailed into left field, allowing Johnson to scamper home and score the game’s only run. At this point, even with no possibility of pitching a perfect game, Hendley still had a chance of pitching a no-hitter, but then Johnson hit a single in the seventh inning.

The entire game was a game of baseball oddities. It is the only nine- inning major league game where both teams combined for just one hit, and the game’s only run was unearned. What is more, the game’s only hit had no bearing on the game’s outcome. It doesn’t get much better (or odder) than that.

Today, professional baseball is more sophisticated, both on and off the field, than it was years ago. Computers calculate statistics, and extensive scouting and video recording arguably make it a higher-caliber and more exact game than it ever was before. Every baseball season continues to produce astounding plays and ex- amples of extraordinary pitching and hitting, and there are even a few new records set during some seasons, but for all the advancements that have been made in the game, there is a good chance that it produces fewer laughs on the field, in the dugouts, and in the stands than in days gone by. ■



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