Wednesday, May 17, 2006

On Watching Perfection

I was running a bit behind in my newspaper reading, but I came across an article in Monday's paper that brought back some wonderful memories.

On May 15, 1981 Len Barker pitched a perfect game. For those who do not follow baseball, that means Len Barker faced the minimum number of batters a pitcher can face in 9 innings - 27. 27 up, 27 down. No walks, no hits, no runs, no errors. No one reached base at all. This has only been done 15 times in the big leagues.

Slightly less thatn 7300 people were in the old Municipal Stadium (that held about 60,000 people for baseball) that night, however the game was on TV.

It was a Friday night. I remember because I used to wash dishes at a Friday night fish fry. As was usual, we would pop out from the kitchen to catch the score on the TV at the bar whenever we got a chance. About the fifth inning someone popped into the kitchen to let us know Lenny had a no-hitter going. We then popped out more frequently to see what was going on. We could pretty much see the TV from the door to the kitchen, so it was not hard. A couple of innings later someone popped in to let us know that Lenny had the perfect game going. All pretenses of work went out the door then as we stood around the bar, with just about everyone else, watching. Fingers crossed. Cheering each out. Completely freaking out when, as I recall, Rick Manning (now an annoucer for the Tribe on cable) caught the last fly out to center field.

For us Indian fans it was a touch with greatness. It had been 13 years since a perfect game had been done (1968 by Catfish Hunter), and the Indians were in, as one of the players put it, perpetual rebuild mode. For those who have seen the movie Major League, that is not too far off what those days were like. To see someone at the top of his game (it only took 104 pitches) was great. We never held much hope of a post-season - the American League East was the toughest division in those days. Many season the Indians' record would have kept them at least in the hunt for some post-season action, but the AL East they ended up in 5th or 6th.

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