What Is A Perfect Game In Baseball? The 27-Pitch Gem Explained (2024)

A perfect game in baseball happens when a pitcher gets every opposing batter out without anyone reaching base the entire game. Over a 9-inning game, each team gets three outs per inning for a total of 27 outs. If a pitcher gets all 27 outs without one batter reaching base for any reason, then that pitcher is awarded with a “perfect game”.

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Who has pitched a perfect game?

In the history of baseball, there have been 23 pitchers that pitched a perfect game. The first recorded perfect game happened in 1880 by Lee Richmond, and the most recent perfect game was in August of 2012 by Felix Hernandez. There has not been a perfect game since. Here is a full list of all 23 pitchers who have thrown a perfect game in Major League Baseball.

  • Lee Richmond
  • John Montgomery Ward
  • Cy Young
  • Addie Joss
  • Charlie Robertson
  • Don Larsen
  • Jim Bunning
  • Sandy Koufax
  • Catfish Hunter
  • Len Barker
  • Mike Witt
  • Tom Browning
  • Dennis Martínez
  • Kenny Rogers
  • David Wells
  • David Cone
  • Randy Johnson
  • Mark Buehrle
  • Dallas Braden
  • Roy Halladay
  • Philip Humber
  • Matt Cain
  • Félix Hernández

Perfect game vs no-hitter

The difference between a no-hitter and a perfect game is that in a perfect game, no batter ever reaches base, ever. It does not matter if it is because of a hit, a walk, an error, or if they were hit by a pitch. If a batter reaches base for any reason whatsoever, then the game is not a perfect game.

A no-hitter happens when no batter on an opposing team reaches base by getting a hit. No-hitters can include batters getting on base from walks and errors but cannot include a recorded base hit.

One example of the perfect game/no-hitter situation happened in 2007. During a game between the Chicago White Sox and the Texas Rangers, White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle had a perfect game in progress at the start of the 5th inning. In that inning, Buehrle walked Rangers hitter Sammy Sosa, but got him out at first base immediately afterwards by a pickoff play. However, because Sosa walked and reached first base, Buehrle was not awarded a perfect game.

To clarify, even though Sosa was picked off at first base, and Buehrle only faced the minimum 27 hitters and got them out consecutively over 9 innings, but because one person reached base, it was a no-hitter and not a perfect game. To see highlights of that game, follow this link.

Perfect game vs. complete game

The difference between a perfect game and a complete game is that a complete game only signifies that the pitcher who started the game pitches all the way until the end of the game. For a pitcher to throw a perfect game, they must complete the entire game but not allow any baserunners for any reason. A complete game is a baseball statistic that signals only that the starting pitcher finished the game they started. A pitcher can earn a complete game and not be victorious. They simply must finish the game that they started to the final out.

How rare is a perfect game?

Statistically speaking, a perfect game in baseball has an average likelihood of 1 in 46,800 to happen. However, this is not an exact science due to many variables like the weather, the experience of the players, and more. From 1880 to today, there have been 23 perfect games recorded in baseball which averages to one perfect game approximately every 6 years.

FAQ

Has anyone thrown a perfect game in a World Series game?

Yes, one pitcher has thrown a perfect game in the World Series. On October 8, 1956, Don Larsen of the New York Yankees threw a perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers in game 5 of the World Series. The Yankees would go on to win the championship in seven games that year.

Can a pitcher lose a perfect game?

No, a pitcher cannot lose a 9-inning perfect game. However, if the game goes into extra innings and the perfect game is lost, then the pitcher does not get credit for the perfect game that happened in the first 9 innings. The pitcher must finish the entire game to be awarded a perfect game.

An example of this happened in 1959 when Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Harvey Haddix pitched 12 perfect innings before losing the game entirely in the 13th inning to the Milwaukee Braves.

Has anyone thrown two perfect games?

No, no pitcher in major league history has thrown 2 perfect games. Some pitchers who have thrown one perfect game have come very close to throwing a second, but each one allowed one batter to reach base in their second attempt. Examples of this scenario include Cy Young, Sandy Koufax, and Mark Buehrle.

Who was the last person to pitch a perfect game?

The last perfect game in Major League history was on August 15, 2012, by Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners. Hernandez defeated the Tampa Bay Rays during a regular season game played in Seattle.

What is the lowest pitch count in a perfect game?

The lowest pitch count in a perfect game is 74 pitches by Addie Joss of the Cleveland Guardians (then known as the Cleveland Naps) on October 2, 1908, against the Chicago White Sox.

Has there ever been a 27-strikeout baseball game?

No, there has never been a 27-strikeout baseball game. The all-time record for strikeouts in a 9-inning game is 20. This has been done by both Roger Clemens of the Boston Red Sox, and Kerry Wood of the Chicago Cubs.

It is worth noting that in 1962, Tom Cheney of the Washington Senators recorded 21 strikeouts in one game, but Cheney pitched 16 innings that game instead of just 9.

The record for most strikeouts during a perfect game is 14 by Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants on June 13, 2012.

The 23 Perfect Games of Baseball

Pitching the perfect game is referred to in baseball lingo as a “gem”. It’s called a gem because it is very rare, just like the precious stones. In over 140 years of recorded baseball statistics, there have only been 23 perfect games. There have been many close calls over the years, but only 23 gems in total.

There have been other perfect games pitched at the collegiate and minor league levels, but to pitch perfection at the professional level is something special. Read highlights and see media clips of each perfect game and enjoy the stories around these rare events including one pitcher who threw a perfect game on Mother’s Day in front of his grandmother who helped raise him.

What Is A Perfect Game In Baseball? The 27-Pitch Gem Explained (2024)

FAQs

What does pitching the perfect game mean? ›

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.

Has anyone ever thrown a 27 pitch game? ›

On May 13, 1952 while pitching for the Class-D Bristol Twins, Ron Necciai tossed a no-hitter, striking out 27 in nine innings! After that summer, Necciai was drafted to fight in the Korean War, but was quickly discharged because of his ulcer problems.

What does it mean to pitch a gem in baseball? ›

Because baseball fields have long been called “diamonds,” it was only natural that stellar performances right in the middle would be called “gems.” To be sure, in modern usage, the word gem is used to describe pitching as much as anything else.

What does 27 up and 27 down mean? ›

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.

How many strikes are in a perfect game? ›

In bowling games that use 10 pins, such as ten-pin bowling, candlepin bowling, and duckpin bowling, the highest possible score is 300, achieved by bowling 12 strikes in a row in a traditional single game: one strike in each of the first nine frames, and three more in the tenth frame.

Who was the last MLB pitcher to pitch a perfect game? ›

When was the last MLB perfect game? The last MLB perfect game was June 28, 2023, by Domingo Germán (New York Yankees) against the Oakland Athletics.

Has anyone ever had a 3 pitch inning? ›

Aaron Nola just had a THREE PITCH inning. There have been 323 no-hitters in MLB history. Nola just rolled the 202nd 3-pitch inning in MLB history. Turns out we would see something even more rare after Nola gave up that hit in the 6th.

What is it called when you strike out every batter? ›

In baseball, striking out the side refers to when a pitcher strikes out all the batters he faces in the defensive half-inning in which he pitches. There is no official statistic in regard to this accomplishment, though it is often noted by commentators and fans when it occurs.

What is the difference between a perfect game and a no-hitter? ›

What is better a no-hitter or a perfect game? Batters do get on base in a no-hitter due to a walk or errors but in a perfect game no batter gets on base, and hence a perfect game is better than a no-hitter from a pitcher's perspective.

What is the rarest pitch in baseball? ›

The eephus is one of the rarest pitches thrown in baseball, and it is known for its exceptionally low speed and ability to catch a hitter off guard.

Are there any illegal pitches in baseball? ›

It is illegal for the pitcher to deceive, rush, or surprise the batter by imitating a pitch while not in contact with the rubber. It is also illegal for a pitcher to “quick pitch” the batter by quickly stepping on the rubber and pitching without taking a sign.

What is the slang for hitting a baseball? ›

Knock: Another term for a hit. Leather: The glove. When a player makes a great fielding play, he is said to have “flashed the leather.” Meatball: An easy pitch to hit, usually right down the middle of the plate.

Can you throw a perfect game and lose? ›

A perfect game, by definition, is also a no-hitter, and is also guaranteed to result in a win and a shutout if the game does not go into extra innings.

How rare is a perfect game? ›

Over the 154 years of Major League Baseball history, and over 238,500 games played, there have been 24 official perfect games by the current definition. No pitcher has thrown more than one.

Has anyone thrown two perfect games? ›

No major league player has ever thrown two perfect games, although Jean Faut of the AAGPBL accomplished the feat with perfect games in 1951 and 1953.

Has anyone ever pitched an 81 pitch perfect game? ›

Nebraska—wearing uniform number 18, Don Larsen's number—strikes out all 27 batters on three pitches each, making it an 81-pitch "super-perfect" game.

What do you have to do to pitch a perfect game? ›

In baseball, a perfect game is a game in which one or more pitchers complete a minimum of nine innings with no batter from the opposing team reaching base.

How rare is pitching a perfect game? ›

Over the 150 years of Major League Baseball history, and over 218,400 games played, there have been 23 official perfect gamesby the current definition. No pitcher has ever thrown more than one. So, the odds are about 1 in 10,000.

Has anyone ever pitched a perfect game? ›

Pitchers. During baseball's modern era, 22 pitchers have thrown perfect games. Most were accomplished major leaguers. Seven have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame: Cy Young, Addie Joss, Jim Bunning, Sandy Koufax, Catfish Hunter, Randy Johnson, and Roy Halladay.

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