Some swear they’ve seen perfection in clouds along the sunset horizon slowly turning orange and purple. Others have heard it in Robert Plant screaming “I got a woman, stay drunk all the time.” I felt it many moons ago when Robin Yount flew across Memorial Stadium April 1987 air and snagged Eddie Murray’s fly ball, preserving the Juan Nieves no-hitter, only one in Milwaukee Brewer’s history, but it wasn’t perfect.
Perfect is both an adjective and a verb. In baseball, it describes a game, a perfect game, but to be perfect like Dennis Martinez you have to perfect what’s typically not perfect, a regular game, so it’s kind of an adjective and a verb. It inspires fans of both sides to surrender their allegiances.
A perfect game in baseball has been real 23 times, 24 if we include Harvey Haddix’s 12 perfect innings that ended in a base runner in the lucky 13th inning, 25 if we include Armando Galarraga’s perfecto that got flubbed by Jim Joyce on the 27th out. Joyce apologized after the game and Armando aptly said, “That’s ok, no one’s perfect.”
So umpire mess ups and tie scores aside, there’s only been 23 perfect games…..only 23, only 23 times have there been 27 consecutive outs made by a pitcher and his defense. The lights went out. The stadium emptied. People walked home or to bars and had perfection on their mind and breath. They stashed their stubs in a safe place.
Dallas Braden and Phil Humbert provoke a scratch of the head and so does Randy Johnson going perfect at 40 years old. Who even pitches at 40! The Tampa Bay Rays have been on the losing end of three of them. Two were in the pre-1900 years which interestingly happened within a week of each other, the first one on June 12, 1880 and the second one five days later. The timing is almost as wonderful as the name of the very first umpire who called it – Foghorn Bradley!
Speaking of umpires, there is only one umpire who has been a part of three perfect games and he was calling balls and strikes in two of them!
Barrett called David Cone’s in June, 1999 and followed it up with Matt Cain’s in July, 2012.
I’ve never paid too much attention to umpires, however, I have heard horror stories about Angel Hernandez and I did read Ron Luciano’s Umpire Strikes Back and I know once upon a time National League and American League Umpires were separated, no inter-league action, wore different colored sport jackets too I think. But Barrett calling two perfect games has me googling.
According to a study conducted by Boston University, Barrett ranked at the bottom of umpire accuracy between the years 2008-2018. Here’s the link to that study – http://www.bu.edu/articles/2019/mlb-umpires-strike-zone-accuracy
I don’t know what it all means in terms of his calling perfection, especially because the study was completed after Cone’s perfecto. But if he did lack accuracy, maybe it spurred on the perfection? Maybe he got into the minds of hitters and had them swinging at bad pitches? Maybe I’ll watch the games in their entirety, thanks to you tube!
The only things I know for sure, for now, are that Barrett used to be a sparring partner for boxing legends George Foreman, Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson. That’s what it says in a New York Times article I found thanks to a google search. And then there’s Wikipedia sharing that Barrett has a masters degree in Biblical Studies and that he wrote a thesis called “An Investigation of Faith as a Life Principle in the Lives of Major League Umpires.” And oh yeh, he is also an ordained minister.
Maybe him studying the bible, being a minister, and writing a thesis about faith and being an umpire; maybe him sparring with George Foreman, maybe none of this has to do with him calling two perfect games or maybe it does? This is the kind of question that results in heavy drinking or going to church. I can’t do either right now. I have dinner to make and it’s only sardines and pasta, but perfect enough for tonight.