The History of the Perfect Game

Celebrating the 24 Perfect Game Pitchers

Date: Jul 5, 2023
Topics: Baseball, Collecting, MLB All-Stars, Perfect Game
Length: 1925 Words
Reading Time: ~10 Minutes

On June 28, 2023, Yankees pitcher Domingo German channeled the spirit of perfection and set off a spectacular fireworks display. With his flawless performance, German etched his name in baseball history as the first pitcher to throw a Perfect Game in the Big Leagues since 2012. The sheer brilliance of his outing, marking the 24th Perfect Game in MLB history, captured the hearts of fans and left us longing to revisit the unforgettable moments of the past. So buckle up and join us on this exhilarating journey as we pay tribute to all 24 pitchers who have achieved this rare and extraordinary feat.

MLB Perfect Games

2011 TriStar Obak Lee Richmond #61

1. June 12, 1880: Lee Richmond, Worcester Ruby Legs vs. Cleveland Blues

Before the term “Perfect Game” even existed, Worcester’s Lee Richmond achieved the feat during an 1880 contest against the Cleveland Blues. The southpaw – also credited as one of the first curveball pitchers – struck out five in the outing and pitched in 75 of the team’s 84 games that season. That last fact would be considered malpractice today, but salute to Richmond’s durability.

MLB Perfect Games

1887 N28 Allen & Ginter #49 John Ward

2. June 17, 1880: John Ward, Providence Grays vs. Buffalo Bisons

John Ward was around baseball for a good time and a long time – 17 years, to be exact. The multi-positional player took the mound against Buffalo five days after Lee Richmond’s Perfect Game and authored what’s known as the first “official” Perfect Game. The Grays only lasted until 1885, but Ward’s feat keeps them relevant forever.

MLB Perfect Games

T206 Sweet Cap 350-460/25 Cy Young

3. May 5, 1904: Cy Young, Boston Americans vs. A’s

What a surprise! The guy whose name is on the most prestigious pitching award – Cy Young – makes a list honoring legendary pitching performances. Nearly 24 years after John Ward’s Perfect Game, a 37-year-old Cy Young added his name to the Perfect Game list, striking out eight in an epic performance vs. the A’s. Is there anything Young hadn’t accomplished on the mound?

MLB Perfect Games

T206 Sweet Caporal 350/30 Addie Joss

4. October 2, 1908: Addie Joss, Cleveland Naps vs. White Sox

On a momentous day with an electric atmosphere and an estimated crowd of 10,000 fans, the stage was set for a pitching duel for the ages. Addie Joss, renowned for his precision and control, took on Ed Walsh, a strikeout virtuoso who mesmerized with 15 strikeouts, allowing only one run. However, Joss emerged as the hero of the day, showcasing his unparalleled command as he retired batters with astonishing efficiency, throwing just 74 pitches and adding a Perfect Game to his list of accomplishments.

MLB Perfect Games

1922 Neilson’s Chocolate V61 Type 1Charlie Robertson #10

5. April 30, 1922: Charlie Robertson, White Sox at Tigers

Robertson’s first four career starts on the mound hadn’t been smooth sailing, as he struggled with giving up 33 baserunners in just 19 innings. However, the fifth time proved to be the charm. In a remarkable turn of events, Robertson kept the opposing team at bay, allowing a whopping zero base runners and etching his name into history.

1956 Topps #332 Don Larsen

6. October 8, 1956: Don Larsen, Yankees vs. Dodgers (Game 5 of the World Series)

Let’s set the scene. It’s Game 5 of the World Series, and the iconic voice of Vin Scully fills the airwaves. Don Larsen, a pitching maestro, takes the mound and dazzles with his blazing fastballs and dominant performance. The tension builds as Larsen silences the opposing batters, one after another. With each out, history unfolds before the world. In a moment that will forever be etched in baseball lore, Larsen achieves the unimaginable – the first and only Perfect Game in postseason history. The Yanks won the series in seven games.

MLB Perfect Games

1969 Topps Giants #10 Jim Bunning

7. June 21, 1964: Jim Bunning, Phillies at Mets

With his family in attendance for a special occasion, Bunning also proved to be the Mets’ “daddy,” authoring the first Perfect Game in modern NL history. “It meant so much because my oldest daughter and my wife came up for the game,” Bunning said. “And they never would have come up if it wasn’t Father’s Day.”

1965 Topps #300 Sandy Koufax

8. September 9, 1965: Sandy Koufax, Dodgers vs. Cubs

The final call from Dodgers icon Vin Scully does this momentous moment from arguably the best pitcher in MLB history, Sandy Koufax, as much justice as possible: “On the scoreboard in right field, it is 9:46 p.m. in the City of the Angels, Los Angeles, California. And a crowd of 29,139 just sitting in to see the only pitcher in baseball history to hurl four no-hit, no-run games,” said Scully.

MLB Perfect Games

1968 Topps #385 Catfish Hunter

9. May 8, 1968: Catfish Hunter, A’s vs. Twins

Shohei Ohtani’s recent 10-strikeout, two-homer outing was special, and we can’t take anything away from it. But Hunter’s performance vs. the Twins on May 8, 1968, trumps all. The Atheltics’ ace went 3-for-4 from the dish, chipped in three RBIs, and struck out 11 batters while pitching a Perfect Game. There may never be a better performance in MLB history.

1981 Topps #432 Len Barker

10. May 15, 1981: Len Barker, Indians vs. Blue Jays

With less than 8,000 fans in attendance on a cold, wet day in Cleveland, Barker went into “Sicko Mode,” battling the elements, striking out 11 and registering a Perfect Game – also the last time a Cleveland pitcher threw a no-no. Barker deserves a bust in front of ole’ Progressive Field.

MLB Perfect Games

1984 Topps #499 Mike Witt

11. September 30, 1984: Mike Witt, Angels at Rangers

Twas’ the final day of the ’84 season, Witt took the mound, his prowess gleaming bright. Not a Ranger at bat could make a sound, their swings feeble, lost in the twilight. With precision and might, Witt struck out ten, in just an hour and forty-nine, a dominating display. The Angels claimed the victory, a triumph to defend, and Witt joined the iconic list, forever to stay.

MLB Perfect Games

1988 Topps #577 Tom Browning

12. September 16, 1988: Tom Browning, Reds vs. Dodgers

On June 6, Browning was amid a no-no until a ninth-inning single by Tony Gwynn ruined the night. Fast-forward to September 16, and Browning exacted his revenge — albeit against another team. He left the Dodgers’ batters flummoxed, pitching a Perfect Game.

1991 Topps Desert Shield #528 Dennis Martinez

13. July 28, 1991: Dennis Martinez, Expos at Dodgers

At 37, the seasoned “El Presidente” had seen his fair share of ups and downs. But through it all, the Montreal Expos’ ace persevered, defying the odds and making history. On July 28, 1991, he took the mound and etched his name in the books as the first non-U.S.-born pitcher to throw a Perfect Game in MLB history. And who else but the legendary Vin Scully was there to capture every moment on the call?

1994 Topps Baseball #413 Kenny Rogers

14. July 28, 1994: Kenny Rogers Rangers vs. Angels

Rogers stuck in the Bigs until the ripe age of 43. At 29, the lifelong pitcher enjoyed arguably his finest moment, recording a Perfect Game. Rogers only needed 98 pitches and escaped three-ball counts against seven Angels batters.

1998 Topps #83 David Wells 

15. May 17, 1998: David Wells, Yankees vs. Twins

Ask David Wells about the 1998 season and his eyes will probably light up. The Yankees’ hurler finished third in the AL Cy Young voting, took home ALCS honors, added more bling with a World Series ring, and recorded his lone Perfect Game on May 17, 1999, vs. Minnesota.

the history of mlb perfect game

1999 Topps #101 David Cone

16. July 18, 1999: David Cone, Yankees vs. Expos

After Yogi Berra caught the ceremonial first pitch from Don Larsen as a part of Yogi Berra Day, Cone went to work and crafted a little magic of his own. The pitcher became the third Yankees player to register a Perfect Game, joining Larsen and David Wells, doing so with only 88 pitches – the fewest recorded in a Perfect Game. Not quite Larsen’s World Series performance but an extraordinary feat in itself.

2004 Topps Gold Baseball #450 Randy Johnson

17. May 18, 2004: Randy Johnson D-backs at Braves

At 40 years and 251 days old, he became the oldest pitcher to throw a perfect game, surpassing all others by over three years. With his signature dominance on display, Johnson recorded an impressive 13 strikeouts. Feels like a LeBron James-type performance.

2009 Topps #365 Mark Buehrle

18. July 23, 2009: Mark Buehrle, White Sox vs. Rays

White Sox outfielder and defensive sub Dewayne Wise deserves a standing ovation for preserving Buehrle’s Perfect Game. With a remarkable catch in the top of the ninth, Wise’s defensive prowess kept the dream alive. Inspired by this incredible play, Buehrle continued to showcase his pitching brilliance, etching his name into White Sox history with an unforgettable Perfect Game.

The History of the Perfect Game

2010 Topps #417 Dallas Braden

19. May 9, 2010: Dallas Braden, A’s vs. Rays

The story behind Braden’s Perfect Game is a heartwarming tale. Raised by his grandmother, Braden took the mound on Mother’s Day in 2010 with G-Ma watching from the stands. With an extra boost of inspiration, the 24th-round selection dominated the Rays, retiring batter after batter until he achieved the ultimate feat: a Perfect Game.

2010 Topps Update #MTOG-15 Roy Halladay

20. May 29, 2010: Roy Halladay, Phillies at Marlins

In his remarkable 2010 season, Halladay showcased his dominance on the mound. Leading the league in multiple categories such as wins (21), complete games (nine), shutouts (four), innings pitched (250 2/3), and strikeout-to-walk ratio (7:3), he continued making his case for Cooperstown. Adding to his impressive accolades, Halladay captured his second Cy Young Award. But the magic didn’t stop there. A few months after pitching a Perfect Game against the Marlins, “Doc” etched his name in postseason history by throwing a one-walk no-hitter against the Reds in the NLDS.

2012 Topps Gold Sparkle Chicago White Sox Baseball Card #254 Philip Humber

21. April 21, 2012: Philip Humber, White Sox at Mariners

Whether Humber was a journeyman mattered not on April 21, 2012 – it never mattered. He made it to the Bigs and lasted. The 2001 Texas High School 4A Player of the Year and Rice product, however, owned the mound vs. the Mariners, enjoying his date with perfection and leaving the crowd at Seattle’s Safeco Field stunned.

2012 Topps Opening Day #155 Matt Cain

22. June 13, 2012: Matt Cain, Giants vs. Astros

Cain did his best Sandy Koufax impression vs. the Astros, tying the Hall of Famer’s 47-year-old record for strikeouts in a Perfect Game (14). Going “full Koufax” is a dream every pitcher aspires to but few actually experience. Cain did such on June 13, 2012.

2012 Topps Archives Baseball Felix Hernandez #153

23. August 15, 2012: Felix Hernandez, Mariners vs. Rays

Hernandez completed the third of three Perfect Games in 2012. Yes. There were three. The multi-time All-Star and Mariners ace treated the Rays like child’s play, sitting down 12 batters on his way to baseball greatness.

the history of mlb perfect game

2023 MLB TOPPS NOW® Card 506 Domingo German

24. June 28, 2023: Domingo German, Yankees at A’s

It took just 99 pitches for German to help the Yankees break its tie with the White Sox for most Perfect Games by a single organization (four). New York’s “Agent Zero” also became the first Dominican-born player to record a Perfect Game and the first Latino-born player to throw a no-no for the Yanks. His Topps Now card is now sold-out on But there’s a chance at landing this bad boy on the real market.

2011 Topps #179 Armando Galarraga

*What Could Have Been #25: June 2, 2010: Armando Galarraga, Tigers vs. Indians

Armando Galarraga was on the verge of a Perfect Game, with just one out remaining. The baseball gods, however, had a sense of humor in store. As the final play unfolded, Jason Donald of the Indians hit a ground ball, and Galarraga expertly covered first base to receive the throw. The umpire, Jim Joyce, famously called Donald safe, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. It was a moment that left fans and players alike scratching their heads, wondering if the umpire needed an appointment at the nearest optometrist. Nonetheless, Galarraga took the whole ordeal in stride, later stating, “Nobody’s perfect.”

PS: Galarraga was gifted a Corvette before the start of the next day’s game. No way a free Corvette makes up for losing a Perfect Game.


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