What is a perfect game in baseball? All-time list and more to know about MLB pitchers' most exclusive club | Sporting News (2024)

Immortality can be achieved — at least in baseball.

Major League Baseball is home to all sorts of rare and Herculean feats, but arguably none more legendary than a perfect game.Since 1876 — the first year of what we now know as the National League — there have been over 237,000 baseball games played. Only 24 times has a perfect game been thrown.

Break that down: 0.01 percent of MLB games in the sport's history have been pure perfection. Only 214 innings of more than 4 million thrown.

MORE: The most recent no-hitter for all 30 MLB teams

Here's what you need to know about perfect games, their frequency and other factoids surrounding them:

What is a perfect game in baseball?

A perfect game happens when a starting pitcher faces the minimum amount of batters in a game, which would be 27. No batter can reach base on a hit, a walk, a hit-by-pitch, a dropped third strike, an error or otherwise. In its simplest terms: 27 up and 27 down.

By definition, a perfect game also has to go at least nine innings, so weather-shortened games or those that don't go the full nine for any other reason do not officially count as perfect games.

Difference between no-hitter and perfect game

A perfect game only occurswhen the pitcher doesn't allow a single baserunner in the game, as in 27 batters up and 27 batters retired.

As long as there's a "0" in the box score next to hits, then it's a no-hitter. That said, in a no-hitter, hitters are allowed to reach base by walk, hit-by-pitch, error, fielder's choice and so forth. In a perfect game, no baserunners can reach. Every perfect game is a no-hitter, but not every no-hitter is a perfect game.

Among the more intriguing examples of this is Edwin Jackson's 2010 no-hitter for the Diamondbacks. The right-hander held his former team, the Rays, without a hit in a 1-0 victory, but he walked eight batters, hit another, and saw one more reach on an error. Far from perfect, but still a no-hitter.

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How many perfect games in MLB history?

In total, there have been 24 perfect games thrown in MLB history.Of the 24 perfect games, 22 have occurred in MLB's modern era (since 1901).All 24 games have been started and finished by the same pitcher, so unlike some no-hitters, there have been no combined perfect games.

Of the pitchers who have thrown a perfect game, only seven have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, adding a certain element of randomness to who throws perfectos.

Last perfect game

The most recent perfect game was thrown by Yankees starter Domingo German against the Athletics in Oakland on June 28, 2023.

Prior to German's perfect game, the last perfect game thrown was by Seattle ace Felix Hernandez, twirling a perfecto vs. the Rays on Aug. 15, 2012. That was one of the longest gaps between perfect games in MLB history.

MLB perfect games list

Here's the complete list of perfect games since 1876, the first year of the National League.

DatePitcherTeamOpponentPitches/K
June 12, 1880Lee RichmondWorcester WorcestersCleveland BluesNA/5
June 17, 1880John Mongtomery WardProvidence GraysBuffalo BisonsNA/5
May 5, 1904Cy YoungBoston AmericansPhiladelphia AthleticsNA/8
Oct. 2, 1908Addie JossCleveland NapsChicago White Sox74/3
April 30, 1922Charlie RobertsonChicago White SoxDetroit Tigers90/6
Oct. 8, 1956Don LarsenNew York YankeesBrooklyn Dodgers97/7
June 21, 1964Jim BunningPhiladelphia PhilliesNew York Mets90/10
Sept. 9, 1965Sandy KoufaxLos Angeles DodgersChicago Cubs113/14
May 8, 1968Catfish HunterOakland AthleticsMinnesota Twins107/11
May 15, 1981Len BarkerClevelandToronto Blue Jays103/11
Sept. 30, 1984Mike WittCalifornia AngelsTexas Rangers94/10
Sept. 16, 1988Tom BrowningCincinnati RedsLos Angeles Dodgers100/7
July 28, 1991Dennis MartinezMontreal ExposLos Angeles Dodgers95/5
July 28, 1994Kenny RogersTexas RangersCalifornia Angels98/8
May 17, 1998David WellsNew York YankeesMinnesota Twins120/11
July 18, 1999David ConeNew York YankeesMontreal Expos88/10
May 18, 2004Randy JohnsonArizona DiamondbacksAtlanta Braves117/13
July 23, 2009Mark BuehrleChicago White SoxTampa Bay Rays116/6
May 9, 2010Dallas BradenOakland AthleticsTampa Bay Rays109/6
May 29, 2010Roy HalladayPhiladelphia PhilliesFlorida Marlins115/11
April 21, 2012Philip HumberChicago White SoxSeattle Mariners96/6
June 13, 2012Matt CainSan Francisco GiantsHouston Astros125/14
Aug. 15, 2012Felix HernandezSeattle MarinersTampa Bay Rays113/12
June 28, 2023Domingo GermanNew York YankeesOakland Athletics99/9

There are some other notes regarding perfect games:

Most pitches thrown in a perfect game:Matt Cain, 125

Fewest pitches thrown in a perfect game:Addie Joss, 74

Team with most perfect games:New York Yankees (Four)

Most perfect games in a season:Three in 2012 (Philip Humber, Matt Cain, Felix Hernandez)

Teams with most perfect games thrown against:Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, Tampa Bay Rays (Three)

Lefty vs. Righty perfect games:8LHP vs. 16 RHP

Longest stretch without a perfect game:April 30, 1922 (Charlie Robertson) to October 8, 1956 (Don Larsen)

Postseason perfect games:Don Larsen is the only pitcher to have thrown a perfect game in the postseason, with a perfecto vs. the Brooklyn Dodgers in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series.

What is a perfect game in baseball? All-time list and more to know about MLB pitchers' most exclusive club | Sporting News (2024)

FAQs

What is more rare than a perfect game? ›

For instance, just 18 players have ever hit four home runs in a single outing, making it rarer than a perfect game. Perhaps most remarkably, Fernando Tatís hit two grand slams in the same inning off of the same pitcher in 1999, and he remains the only player to ever do so.

What is considered a perfect game in Major League Baseball? ›

A perfect game in baseball happens when a pitcher or pitchers win a baseball game by retiring all 27 opposing batters without allowing a single baserunner. That means no hits, no walks, no hitting by a pitch, and no mistakes by the catcher or fielders that let a batter get on base.

How many perfect games are in Major League Baseball history? ›

There have been 24 perfect games in MLB history.

Has anyone pitched more than one perfect game? ›

Faut is the only professional baseball player, male or female, to have pitched two perfect games. In Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), the first perfect game was thrown by Hideo Fujimoto of the Giants on June 28, 1950, against the Nishi Nippon Pirates.

What is the rarest thing in MLB history? ›

Unassisted triple plays

The rarest type of triple play, and one of the rarest events of any kind in baseball, is for a single fielder to complete all three outs in one play. There have only been 15 unassisted triple plays in MLB history, making this feat rarer than a perfect game.

What is the rarest feat in MLB history? ›

The one that has happened only one time in all of MLB history? It's this: one player hitting two grand slam home runs in the same inning. Not in one game (that's been done 13 times), but in one inning.

Who was the last pitcher to throw a perfect game? ›

The most recent perfect game in Major League Baseball was pitched by Domingo German of the New York Yankees against the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, CA on June 28, 2023.

Has anyone ever struck out all 27 batters? ›

Gallatin, Pennsylvania, U.S. Necciai is best remembered for the unique feat of striking out 27 batters in a nine-inning game, which he accomplished while playing with the Class-D Appalachian League team, the Bristol Twins, on May 13, 1952. He is the only pitcher ever to do so in a nine-inning, professional-league game.

Has Nolan Ryan thrown a perfect game? ›

Ryan also pitched 18 two-hitters. Despite this, he never pitched a perfect game, nor did he ever win a Cy Young Award; both were largely attributed to his high walk rate. Ryan is one of only 31 players in baseball history to have appeared in MLB games in four different decades.

Did Sandy Koufax pitch a perfect game? ›

Koufax became the sixth pitcher of the modern era, and eighth overall, to throw a perfect game. He was also the first left-handed pitcher to throw a perfect game and the first pitcher to throw a perfect game at night. It was Koufax's fourth no-hitter, breaking Bob Feller's Major League record of three.

Who has thrown a no-hitter and perfect game? ›

Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax threw four no-hitters, including one perfect game, during his MLB career. The pitcher who holds the record for the most no-hitters is Nolan Ryan, who threw seven in his 27-year career.

Who pitched the longest perfect game? ›

Still, given that Haddix was perfect for 12 innings, some call his effort that night the greatest game ever pitched. After all, there have only been 23 perfect games in MLB history, and none of them were more than nine innings in length.

Has a rookie ever pitched a perfect game? ›

No true rookie has ever pitched a perfect game. Richmond and Robertson were both technically rookies, each having made a single appearance in a previous season. Two of the three most recent perfect-game pitchers—Wells and Johnson—were traded at the end of the seasons in which they accomplished the feat.

Did Randy Johnson throw a perfect game? ›

Randy Johnson, pictured in 2008, threw his second career no-hitter, a perfect game, on May 18, 2004.

What is the rarest feat in sports? ›

In no particular order, these are the 20 rarest sights in sports.
  • Never Missing an NFL Game.
  • NBA 60-Point Game. ...
  • Steelers Changing Head Coaches. 6 of 20. ...
  • Hitting 600 Home Runs. 5 of 20. ...
  • A City Winning Multiple Championships in One Year. 4 of 20. ...
  • The Raiders Hitting on a No. 1 Draft Pick. ...
  • MLB No-Hitters. 2 of 20. ...
  • Three-Peats. 1 of 20. ...
Nov 21, 2012

What is the rarest play? ›

The unassisted triple play has occurred 15 times in MLB history since 1900. It is considered the rarest play in baseball that has a particular statistic and is really about a single play rather than the context in which it occurred. When was the first unassisted triple play recorded?

What is the highest perfect game grade? ›

Perfect Game uses an amateur grading system from 1-10. The MLB uses a grading system of 2-8 or 20-80.

What is the rarest number in MLB? ›

In fact, according to Baseball Reference, there are only six numbers that no Major Leaguer has ever worn in a game: Nos. 80, 86, 89, 90, 92, and 93.

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