On May 9th in 2010, Mother’s Day, former Texas Tech pitcher Dallas Braden threw Major League Baseball’s 19th perfect game for the Oakland A’s against the Tampa Bay Rays. The magnificence of Braden’s pitching that day was surpassed only by the fairy tale story surrounding it.
Dallas Braden was not what you might consider an elite pitcher. He lasted only a few seasons in the majors, amassing a 26-36 record throughout his career with a 4.16 ERA. A perfect game is seemingly impossible for nearly any pitcher, but Braden was one of the last most would have expected to throw one.
The perfect game was nearly over before it started. The very first batter Braden faced hit a line drive down the third base line, the type of hit that might usually end in a double. But this time, it was snagged by the third baseman for the game’s first out.
In the bottom of the 2nd inning, Braden got some run support before finishing his first time through the Rays' order in the 3rd inning. Through six innings, the A’s led 4-0, and Braden had gone through the order twice.
The 7th inning is when a no hitter or a perfect game starts to earn some serious consideration. As the tension built in Oakland, Braden began working his way through the Rays’ order one last time. The 7th inning came and went, as Dallas Braden easily retired the top of the order.
In the 8th inning, Oakland’s third baseman made a great catch in foul territory before Braden struck out the third batter of the inning on just three pitches. On to the 9th inning it went, still 4-0.
A blooper to the first baseman was the first out of the 9th inning. Braden was just two batters away from the perfect game. A split second of panic set in as the crack of the bat sent a line drive into left field. Thankfully, it was headed straight for the A’s left fielder, who made the easy catch for the out. Braden was down to the final at-bat.
The 27th batter Braden faced hit a groundball straight at the A’s shortstop, who hurled it to first, sealing one of baseball’s most sacred accomplishments.
Braden’s first emotion seemed to be relief. Then joy. Then disbelief.
After being mobbed by his teammates and hugging his coaches, Braden began looking for his grandmother.
Dallas Braden’s mom had passed away of cancer while he was in high school, leaving his grandmother to finish raising him. The two were united on the field, and Braden picked up his granny in a tearful embrace.
It’s impossible to imagine what that moment was like; a son and a mom sharing the joy of a historic feat coupled with the loss of their mom and daughter, respectively, on Mother’s Day. It became an iconic moment that will live on in baseball history for quite some time.
Interesting facts surrounding the perfect game:
1. Jim Joyce was the second base umpire for the game. Joyce is infamous for blowing another potential perfect game thrown by the Detroit Tigers’ Armando Galarraga on the final out, less than one month after Braden’s perfect game.
2. The A’s catcher during Braden’s perfect game was Landon Powell. Powell had only been on the roster for 18 days before catching the perfect game.
3. Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees was involved in a dust up with Dallas Braden a couple weeks prior to the perfect game. Rodriguez walked across the mound after being thrown out, which Braden took exception to. After the incident Rodriguez made a snarky comment to the media about Braden’s lack of success in the majors. But Braden got the last laugh, throwing a perfect game just a couple weeks later, while most of A-Rod’s career accomplishments will be overshadowed by the fact that he cheated his way through professional baseball.