May 26

This Day in History

Sports

May 26, 1959:

Haddix pitches 12 perfect innings, but loses

On this day in 1959, Harvey Haddix of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches 12 perfect innings against the Milwaukee Braves, only to lose the game on a two-run double by Braves’ first baseman Joe Adcock in the 13th inning. It was the first time a pitcher threw more than nine perfect innings in major league history.

Harvey Haddix was a left-handed pitcher from Medway, Ohio. In his 13-year career he pitched for the Cardinals, Phillies, Reds, Pirates and Orioles. He was named to three All-Star games, won three Gold Glove Awards and Game 7 of the 1960 World Series for the Pirates over the favored New York Yankees, but it was his 12-inning perfect stretch that cemented his place in baseball history.

That day, Haddix dominated the game from the beginning. Thirty years later, he recalled his success: "Every batter it was zip, zip--two strikes. I’ve had a lot better stuff than that night, but I’ve never had control like that." Unfortunately for Haddix, Lew Burdette of the Braves matched him inning for inning on the scoreboard, pitching 12 scoreless innings (allowing 12 hits and two walks) to Haddix’s 12 perfect ones.

Haddix took the mound in the 13th inning after retiring 36 Braves in a row, nine more than usually required for a perfect game. The fleet-footed second baseman Felix Mantillia came to bat first. He hit a grounder to Pirate third baseman Don Hoak, who threw the ball across the diamond and into the dirt near first baseman Rocky Nelson. Mantillia was safe, and the perfect game was over, though the no-hitter remained intact. The next batter, Hall of Famer Eddie Matthews, sacrificed Mantillia to second base. Then Hank Aaron, who was leading the National League in batting, came to the plate. Haddix intentionally walked the future career home run king on four pitches. Adcock was up next, and he hit a drive that just cleared the fence in right-center field. In their jubilation over the win, the Braves became muddled on the base paths, and Adcock passed Aaron between second and third base. The umpire Frank Dascoli called Adcock out, changing his three-run homer to a two-run double after several minutes of deliberation.

On June 3, 1995, Pedro Martinez of the Montreal Expos became the second pitcher to take a perfect game into extra innings against the Padres in San Diego. He gave up a double to left fielder Bip Roberts leading off the 10th inning, and though he eventually won the game, he lost the perfect game and no-hitter.

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