Publish date:
Updated on

Dennis Martinez pitches perfect game

On this day in 1991, Dennis Martinez of the Montreal Expos pitches a perfect game to lead his team to a 2-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Martinez was the first Latino ever to pitch a perfect game.

When he debuted with the Baltimore Orioles in 1976 at age 21, Martinez, nicknamed “El Presidente,” became the first-ever Nicaraguan player to make the major leagues. He made both starting and relief appearances in his first two seasons with the club, and in 1978, earned a permanent spot in the O’s starting rotation alongside Hall of Famer Jim Palmer and Cy Young Award winner Mike Flanagan. He went 16-11 in his first year as a starter with a 3.52 ERA and tossed 15 complete games. The next year, he led the major leagues with 18 complete games and 292 1/3 innings pitched. His efforts helped the Orioles win the 1979 American League pennant, though they lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates in that year’s World Series.

In 1983, the Orioles again won the American League, and this time the World Series, but Martinez, suffering from an erosion of his pitching talent due to alcoholism, had the worst year of his career, with a 7-16 record and a 5.53 ERA. The Orioles turned to more effective pitchers in the playoffs, and he sat the bench throughout the post-season. In 1986, in the midst of a fourth mediocre season, the O’s traded Martinez to Montreal for a player to be named later. After having to tryout for the team in 1987 on a minor league contract, Martinez bounced back in his first year in the National League with the Expos, and went on to start more than 30 games every year for eight years and rack up a winning record in seven of his eight seasons in Montreal.

When the 36-year old Martinez took the mound on July 28, 1991, he faced a Dodgers team led by veteran pitcher Mike Morgan, who threw a perfect game through five innings. For his part, Martinez cruised through the game until the sixth inning when second baseman Delino Deshields nearly committed an error, throwing low to first baseman Larry Walker. Walker somehow managed to keep contact with the bag, keeping the perfect game alive. In the seventh, the Expos scored their first runs in 30 innings, taking advantage of two errors by Dodger shortstop Alfredo Griffin and a triple by Walker. With two outs in the ninth and the Expos leading 2-0, the Los Angeles crowd rose to their feet, hoping to see the 15th perfect game in major league history and the first in Los Angeles since Sandy Koufax’s on September 9, 1965. Dodger Chris Gwynn hit a pop fly to center field for the last out, and Martinez was mobbed by celebrating teammates at the mound.

1991 turned out to be El Presidente’s best year as an Expo: He led the National League with nine complete games, five shutouts and a 2.39 ERA, in addition to his perfect game.

Martinez retired during the 1998 season after 22 years in the bigs with a solid 245-193 career record and a 3.70 ERA.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!


Rudy Vallée is born

Before the electronic microphone became commonplace in the 1920s, the one quality that was required of every professional singer in every musical genre was a talent for vocal projection—i.e., the ability to make oneself heard over one’s instrumental accompaniment in a live or a more

Worst modern earthquake

At 3:42 a.m., an earthquake measuring between 7.8 and 8.2 magnitude on the Richter scale flattens Tangshan, a Chinese industrial city with a population of about one million people. As almost everyone was asleep in their beds, instead of outside in the relative safety of the more

Bonus Marchers evicted by U.S. Army

During the Great Depression, President Herbert Hoover orders the U.S. Army under General Douglas MacArthur to evict by force the Bonus Marchers from the nation’s capital. Two months before, the so-called “Bonus Expeditionary Force,” a group of some 1,000 World War I veterans more

14th Amendment adopted

Following its ratification by the necessary three-quarters of U.S. states, the 14th Amendment, guaranteeing to African Americans citizenship and all its privileges, is officially adopted into the U.S. Constitution. Two years after the Civil War, the Reconstruction Acts of 1867 more

Hamburg suffers a firestorm

On this day in 1943, the worst British bombing raid on Hamburg so far virtually sets the city on fire, killing 42,000 German civilians. On July 24, British bombers launched Operation Gomorrah, repeated bombing raids against Hamburg and its industrial and munitions plants. Sortie more

Johnson announces more troops to Vietnam

President Lyndon B. Johnson announces that he has ordered an increase in U.S. military forces in Vietnam, from the present 75,000 to 125,000. Johnson also said that he would order additional increases if necessary. He pointed out that to fill the increase in military manpower more

Indian agent James McLaughlin dies

Best known today for his inadvertent role in the death of Sitting Bull, the prominent Indian agent James McLaughlin dies in Washington, D.C. Unlike some Indian agents of the later 19th century, McLaughlin genuinely liked and respected his charges. His wife was half Sioux, and she more

Animal House released

On this day in 1978, National Lampoon’s Animal House, a movie spoof about 1960s college fraternities starring John Belushi, opens in U.S. theaters. Produced with an estimated budget of $3 million, Animal House became a huge, multi-million-dollar box-office hit, spawned a slew of more

Plane crashes into Empire State Building

A United States military plane crashes into the Empire State Building on this day in 1945, killing 14 people. The freak accident was caused by heavy fog. The B-25 Mitchell bomber, with two pilots and one passenger aboard, was flying from New Bedford, Massachusetts, to LaGuardia more

Battle of Ezra Church begins

On this day in 1864, at the Battle of Ezra Church, Georgia, Confederates under General John Bell Hood make a third attempt to break General William T. Sherman’s hold on Atlanta. Like the first two, this attack failed, destroying the Confederate Army of Tennessee’s offensive more

U.S. Senate approves United Nations charter

In a ringing declaration indicating that America’s pre-World War II isolation was truly at an end, the U.S. Senate approves the charter establishing the United Nations. In the years to come, the United Nations would be the scene of some of the most memorable Cold War more

Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia

On July 28, 1914, one month to the day after Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife were killed by a Serbian nationalist in Sarajevo, Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia, effectively beginning the First World War. Threatened by Serbian ambition in the tumultuous more