CHICAGO -- Dale Sveum said he took some time away from dinner with his wife Saturday evening at a Chicago restaurant to watch the end of Phil Humber's perfect game for the Chicago White Sox against the Seattle Mariners.
“I just saw the score and didn’t pay attention; it was late in the game,” Sveum said. “Somebody next to me said, 'He has a perfect game.' I asked to put the TV on over where I can see it.”
Sveum said the closest he came to perfection as a player was during the 1988 season when Odell Jones of the Milwaukee Brewers took one into the eighth inning against the Cleveland Indians, but lost it on a walk. Current Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington broke up the no-hitter with one out in the ninth inning.
Sveum started at shortstop in the May 28 game and went 2-for-3, driving in one of the two Brewers runs in the eventual 2-0 victory.
When it comes to something like perfection, rivalries are out the window. The Cubs manager was genuinely pleased for the achievement from a player on the other side of town.
“It’s great for anybody and I’m happy for the kid and [White Sox manager] Robin [Ventura],” Sveum said. “I know that had to be a great feeling for a first-time manager to see that already so early in his managerial career. That had to be awesome. What a great performance.”
Particularly impressive to Sveum was the pitch selection used by Humber and White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski in the ninth inning.
“To finish it off that last inning with a 3-2 slider to the first hitter and then to have enough savvy to throw another 3-2 slider with the perfect game on the line was pretty impressive,” Sveum said. “It happened to work out so I’m happy for him.”
Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster, currently on the disabled list called Humber’s feat impressive, saying the first-round pick out of Rice University always had an above-average arsenal of pitches. But what struck Dempster most about the moment was the quirky baseball superstition that surrounds a historic moment like that.
“I was joking around and always laugh when a guy has a no-hitter or a perfect game going and nobody talks to him,” Dempster said, as if the practice could really make a pitcher not realize what’s happening. “And so then he starts to go, ‘Why is nobody talking to me? Oh wait, I must have something going here.’”