In my prior life, I was Sports Editor of the Kenosha News.
I spent the better part of my 29.75 years there trying to keep my Sox world and my newspaper world separate.
Every now and again, always for the betterment of the paper, the worlds intersected.
Mark Buehrle’s perfect game, which is celebrating its ninth birthday today, was one of those times.
Here is the column I wrote for the Kenosha News on No. 56’s perfecto:
I was fortunate enough to attend Mark Buehrle’s perfect game in the White Sox 5-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field.
With the exception of Game 2 of the 2005 World Series at the same venue, the “perfecto” was the most amazing, compelling, thrilling, grueling, scintillating, tense sporting event I have ever witnessed.
Here are some observations:
*There’s always a Kenosha connection: Buehrle victimized the Rays, who employ Kenosha native Dick Bosman as their minor league pitching coordinator.
While Bosman was not on hand Thursday, Scott Kazmir, one of his former “students,” was the losing pitcher. Bosman was Kazmir’s pitching coach at Double-A Montgomery in 2004.
The Rays couldn’t have been any classier Thursday. After the game, the team respectfully watched the Sox celebration from the top of their dugout with a few of the Rays politely acknowledging Buehrle.
“Yes, I’m proud to be part of this organization,” Bosman wrote to me in an e-mail. “Good people from top to bottom.”
*Other connections: Former Kenosha Kroaker and Rays reliever Joe Nelson watched the game from the bullpen. … Current Rays’ pitching coach Jim Hickey pitched against the Kenosha Twins for the Appleton Foxes in 1984. Don Cooper, Buehrle’s pitching coach, spent some time at Simmons Field as pitching coach for the White Sox South Bend affiliate in 1988.
*Memories: Bosman has a no-hitter himself.
On July 19, 1974, 35 years and one week ago today, the fiery right-hander no-hit Oakland for host Cleveland.
“Of course, every time there is a no-hitter, the memories come flooding back,” Bosman said.
The only blemish on the scorecard that day was a throwing error by Bosman in the fourth inning. At the time, Bosman was just the third pitcher to keep himself from a perfect game because of his own error. The others? The Giants’ Christy Matthewson on June 13, 1905, against the Cubs and the Senators’ Walter Johnson on July 1, 1920 vs. Boston.
Buehrle, an excellent fielder, handled three chances Thursday. He retired Sox-killer Carl Crawford twice on comebackers and logged a putout on Carlos Pena’s grounder to first.
*More memories: Do you think White Sox bullpen coach Juan Nieves had a flashback when DeWayne Wise preserved the perfect game with a spectacular catch?
Nieves’ no-hitter of April 15, 1987, ended when Brewer teammate Robin Yount gloved Eddie Murray’s fly ball in left-center at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium.
*Been there, done that: Kenoshan Gene Pobloski was probably wondering what all the fuss over Buehrle’s perfect game was about.
He owns 20 perfect games.
Pobloski was inducted into the Kenosha USBC BA (formerly KBA) Hall of Fame on Feb. 28.
*Mapquest: Prior to Thursday, the closest perfect game to Kenosha was also thrown by a Sox pitcher.
On April 30, 1922, Charles Robertson tossed the first perfect game in Sox history at Navin Field (later renamed Tiger Stadium) in Detroit, which is 337 miles from Kenosha. U.S. Cellular Field is 60 miles from Kenosha.
If Pittsburgh’s Harvey Haddix had a little better luck, his perfect game would have been the closest pitched to Kenosha. On May 26, 1959, Haddix threw 12 perfect innings at Milwaukee County Stadium (41.6 miles from Kenosha) against the Braves. An error in the 13th ended the perfect game and a two-run homer by Joe Adcock later in the frame hung the toughest-luck loss of all-time on Haddix.
If the Cubs’ Milt Pappas had gotten a call from umpire Bruce Froemming, his perfect game would have been the closest to Kenosha. On Sept. 2, 1972, Pappas retired the first 26 batters he faced at Wrigley Field (53.8 miles from Kenosha) before he walked Marv Stahl on two close pitches that Froemming would not call strikes. Pappas got the next batter to pop out to trumpet-tooting Carmen Fanzone at second for the no-no.
*Traffic! Pat Burrell’s blast that the wall-climbing Wise gloved in the ninth inning wasn’t the only long drive Thursday.
It took me 3 hours and 9 minutes to get home after the game. The game only took 2:03.
No matter … it was worth it!