Phil Humber pitched 8 indistinctive years in the majors with 5 teams. He finished with a career record of 16-23 and an ERA of 5.31.
When Phil Humber signed with the Chicago White Sox in 2012 for $530K he was coming towards the end of his career and was looking for a place to help a team win a few games.
He started the season with a 1.69 era on 5 and 1/3 innings pitched allowing 3 walks and 7 strikeouts to start the season.
In his second start of the season on April 21, he pitched the 21st perfect game in Major League Baseball history, retiring all 27 hitters in succession.
Did he simply keep working during every one of those years, no doubt struggling, doubting, and worrying about getting better or figuring out how to get better? Or did he simply fail enough he started figuring out a way to succeed? Or did the stars align and this statistically below-average pitcher come through with one of those days where everything is simply beautiful? Where the sun shines, the birds chirp with the sounds of spring, and for 27 magical outs, for some reason, he could do nothing wrong?
It wasn’t without drama. It came down to the last at-bats as it seems all great stories in baseball do. Brendan Ryan came to the plate as a pinch hitter and worked the count to 3-2. The crowd in Seattle was on their feet standing for history, either breaking up this performance or watching Humber go down in history. Humber threw a terrible slider that missed the plate and the catcher.
Ryan started to first base, believing he didn’t swing the bat and was getting a free pass to first. As he was about to start the 90-foot trot, the umpire called a strike for swinging and Ryan turned to argue the play. All while beloved catcher AJ Pierzynski hustled to the ball and winged it to first for the final out in the perfect game.
If Ryan had run to first instead of being shocked by the umpire’s call, would he have beat the throw ruining the perfect game? Did the umpire make the correct call on the 27th out?
You be the judge – but it will forever be Phil Humber’s perfect game
The story would be even better had Phil gone out in his next start and dominated. He faced the Red Sox, who treated him like the pitcher he had been throughout his career, as he gave up 3 home runs and a total of 9 runs in 5 innings.
The White Sox went on to finish 85-77 and missed out on the division by 3 games to the Detroit Tigers—who went on to lose in a World Series sweep by the San Francisco Giants.
But on that one day, they experienced perfection.