SAN FRANCISCO -- Major league pitchers are going to start demanding Ted Barrett for their starts. Not necessarily for his mastery of the strike zone. Simply because he's a good luck charm with a mask.
Barrett was behind the plate Wednesday night when San Francisco Giants' right-hander Matt Cain pitched a perfect game against the Houston Astros in a 10-0 victory. He also was the home plate umpire when David Cone threw his perfect game for the New York Yankees in a 6-0 win over the Montreal Expos on July 18, 1999. It makes Barrett the first major league umpire to call balls and strikes for two perfect games.
And if pitchers ask for Barrett, they might want Brian Runge as well.
Runge, who was at third base for Cain's gem, was behind the plate when six Seattle pitchers combined for a 1-0 no-hit win over the Los Angeles Dodgers last week and for Philip Humber's perfect game for the Chicago White Sox against the Mariners on April 21.
Barrett said experience has shown him when he might be a witness to baseball history.
"As the game goes on, you look up on the board, you see zero hits and you see the guy's facing the minimum and you know he's throwing the ball pretty well, locating his spots," Barrett said. "And so, there's been a lot of times I've thought, 'This guy, he could be unhittable tonight.' "
Cain was in that place, according to Barrett. It was in contrast to Cone's effort.
"Cone had the big, big back-door breaking ball. Turns out none of them had ever faced Cone before, so they were a little more baffled by Cone's stuff," Barrett said. "With Cain throwing the ball where he wanted to, location was awesome."
It was no surprise that Cain sat by himself in the Giants' dugout as he approached his historic moment. That's just baseball superstition. Turns out, Runge didn't want to tempt fate, either.
"The third base coach for Houston made a comment and I didn't even acknowledge it," Runge said. "He came out and said, 'We're going to break it up this inning.' I think it was the seventh.
"Then, in the eighth, (third baseman Chris) Johnson came out and I could tell he wanted to say something. He gave me a look and I just kind of looked away because I didn't want no part of anybody saying anything."
Then Runge had to deal with his own feelings. Though he claims not to be superstitious, Runge found he was contradicting himself.
" ... For the last five innings, I went to the exact same spot in between innings and stood. I didn't spit my gum out. I go through a lot of gum, normally," he said. "I guess I don't believe myself. I was just a big fan myself down there."