ESPN researcher nails list of MLB perfect games
ESPN Stats & Information's Mark Simon recites all 23 MLB perfect games from memory in honor of the 50th anniversary of Sandy Koufax's 1965 perfect game.
It is considered one of the most memorable games pitched in major league history and was part of a season in which the Dodgers won the World Series, with Koufax pitching a shutout in the seventh game.
With that in mind, here's a look back at some of the memorable statistical notes from his perfect game.
The game is the only one in major league history in which the teams combined for only one hit. The Dodgers' only hit was a double by Lou Johnson in the seventh inning inning. Earlier, he walked, went to second on a bunt and scored the game’s only run on a throwing error on the steal attempt. Cubs starter Bob Hendley finished with a complete-game one-hitter.
Finished with a flourish
Koufax struck out the side in the eighth and ninth innings. It took nearly 50 years for another pitcher to finish a no-hitter by striking out three in the final inning. Elias Sports Bureau research shows that the next to do it after Koufax was Chris Heston of the Giants against the Mets this season. Jake Arrieta also did it to close his no-hitter against the Dodgers.
The final batter was pinch hitter Harvey Kuenn, who was 8-for-70 in his career against Koufax, including 1-for-21 combined in 1964 and 1965. Kuenn’s .114 batting average is tied for the second-lowest against Koufax among the 91 players with at least 30 at-bats against him.
Kuenn also made the last out of Koufax’s no-hitter against the Giants in 1963. He’s the only batter in the modern era (since 1900) to make the final out of two no-hitters thrown by the same pitcher.
The Cubs' lineup featured three future Hall of Famers: right fielder Billy Williams hitting third, third baseman Ron Santo batting fourth and first baseman Ernie Banks batting fifth. Elias notes that it is one of two instances in which a pitcher threw a perfect game against a team that started three Hall of Famers. The other was Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series against a Brooklyn Dodgers lineup that featured four Hall of Famers.
Did you know?
Koufax's perfect game was part of a run of perfectos by future Hall of Famers. Jim Bunning threw one for the Phillies against the Mets on Father’s Day, 1964. Catfish Hunter threw one for the Athletics against the Twins in 1968.
Koufax threw a no-hitter in four consecutive seasons (1962, 1963, 1964 and 1965). The most recent pitcher to throw a no-hitter in two consecutive seasons is Tim Lincecum of the Giants in 2013 and 2014.
Koufax threw twice as many no-hitters as one-hitters. His two one-hitters came in 1960 against the Pirates and 1965 against the Mets.
By comparison: Nolan Ryan threw seven no-hitters and 12 one-hitters. Bob Feller, who threw three no-hitters, also had a dozen one-hitters.
Koufax struck out a season-high 14 batters in his perfect game. He finished with a modern-era major-league-record 382 strikeouts that season. Ryan broke the record by one in 1973.
This post has been revised to reflect that Johnson's hit came in the seventh inning and that Tim Lincecum (not Homer Bailey) is the most recent pitcher to throw a no-hitter in consecutive seasons.