There have been only fifteen perfect games pitched in the modern era of baseball: The great Cy Young fittingly hurled the first one, in 1904, and Randy Johnson pitched the last one, in May 2004. In between, some great and famous pitchers -- Sandy Koufax, Catfish Hunter, Jim Bunning, and Don Larsen -- performed the feat, as did those lesser-known, like Charlie Robertson and Len Barker. Fifteen in 160,000 games: The odds are staggering.
In 27 Men Out, popular historian Michael Coffey offers an expansive look at these unsurpassable pitching performances. Here you'll find play-by-play accounts of each of the fifteen perfect games and expert assessments of those who pitched them. Along the way, Coffey goes beyond the box scores to provide fascinating details about how these games unfolded, as well as compelling anecdotes about all of the key players -- from Koufax's controversial holdout with Don Drysdale to Mike Witt's victimization by the baseball commissioner to Dennis Martinez's struggle up from an impoverished Nicaraguan childhood.
A must-have for baseball fans, historians, and statisticians alike, 27 Men Out is an exciting new benchmark in sports literature.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
April 01, 2005
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from 27 Men Out by Bill James
CHAPTER ONE: The Cyclone Denton True "Cy" YoungMay 5, 1904 Cy Young didn't know what to tell his young wife. After all, Ohio had always been their home. They had grown up together in the neighboring townships of Peoli and Gilmore, in the central part of the state. For nine years Young had thrived as the best pitcher on the Cleveland Spiders team, perhaps the best pitcher in all of baseball. Now, on the eve of a new season, after a winter of uncertainty, Young and his entire cast of teammates were being shipped to St. Louis.Cy and Robba Miller had been married going on seven years that spring of 1899. By all accounts they were extremely close, with the big, quiet Cy dependent on the tomboyish and outgoing little pepperpot he called "Bobby." Robba would accompany her husband to his spring training sessions down in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and she would, on occasion, go with him on the road to see American cities at a time when Americans were moving in droves from the farms. In the post-Civil War decades, the country was bursting with change; assembly-line motor cars and the birth of American aviation were just a few years away; the movie industry was born; the century's last war -- the Spanish-American War -- ran its course in a year's time, and the country added to its territorial possessions, finishing the great work of dominion that would make the next century an American one.The pace was both exciting and exhausting, as the many lurid entertainments and crack cures of the day would attest. For relaxation, Cy and Robba Young liked nothing better than the diversions provided by the novels of Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray, and the homegrown Mark Twain. To while away the time on the long trips, Robba would read aloud to her husband, whose sixth-grade education had left him a little shy in literacy skills. Second cousins (Cy's mother was Robba's aunt), the two had played together often as children, and as adults they had a natural and contented ease.The Youngs were comfortable enough on Cy's baseball salary, which was tops in the league at about $2,400 a year -- they lived about three times better than the average steelworker. Young's success on the field, however, was anything but run-of-the-mill. A dozen years later, he would retire with more wins, 511, than any other pitcher is likely to get (as well as more losses). In 1898 he was already an established star and a hugely popular figure not only in "The Forest City," as Cleveland was rather incongruously known, but around the country. People were even beginning to refer to him fondly as "the G.O.M." -- the Grand Old Man. And he was only 31.Cy had spent nine seasons with the Cleveland Spiders, playing for owners Frank Robinson and his brother Stanley. He had won 25 games in '98, his eighth straight season with more than 20 wins; his career victory total already stood at 241. The Spiders managed to finish in what used to be called "the first division," taking fifth place, in the upper half of the 12-team league. The team had in fact been more than respectable for years, playing in the Temple Cup (which passed for a World Series before there was such a thing), and posting competitive second- and third-place finishes as well. The Spiders had one of the league's best hitters in Jesse Burkett, a future Hall of Famer who would finish with a lifetime .338 batting average, and Bobby Wallace, another Cooperstown-bound player, who would play for 25 years in the bigs. But all of a sudden, during spring training for the 1899 season, Young and Burkett and Wallace, virtually the entire team -- including the manager -- were traded to St. Louis. Not really traded to St. Louis, but traded for St. Louis, as an equal number from the Browns came to be Spiders in the same swift move.It was a long way from Ohio to St. Louis, close to 600 miles. Cy tried to sell his w