Perfection is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the quality or state of being perfect: freedom from fault or defect.”
In order to have a game defined as “perfect” in Major League Baseball, a pitcher (or pitchers) must throw all nine innings without allowing a single runner on base, whether it be through a hit, walk, error, or the hit by pitch rule.
There have been exactly 21 perfect games in the World Series era, the most recent of which occurred in August of 2021— today, we are going all the way back to 1903 to remember the first-ever MLB’s flawless game in modern baseball.
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MLB’s First Flawless Game
Denton True “Cy” Young was 37-years old and in the 14th-year of his professional career and his fourth with the Boston Americans (later the Red Sox). The nickname “Cy” was a shortened version of the word “cyclone” and had stemmed from the incredible speed of his fastball, which compared to that of a cyclone. He also had a sweeping curveball and changeup regularly in his arsenal of pitches.
Young’s Americans were taking on the Philadelphia Athletics in a May 5th afternoon game at Huntington Avenue Grounds in Boston, Massachusetts, shortly after the start of the 1904 season.
Young was 2-2 heading into a mound matchup with Rube Waddell (4-1), who had won a previous matchup against Young and also took down Boston’s Jesse Tannehill with a one-hitter.
As confident as he may have been that day, the opposing pitcher allowed at least one hit to every Boston batter except for Young himself: Young, on the other hand, was dealing. Nobody for the Athletics could get past him or the excellent defense of his teammates behind him.
As the innings quickly passed and Young’s bid at perfection continued, Boston teammates upheld a famous tradition of not talking to a pitcher headed for a monumental game. Inning changes would proceed in silence as Young and the Boston boys simply grabbed their gloves and jogged out, avoiding eye contact with their star pitcher.
Boston finally matched Young’s output in the sixth inning with a run from Chick Stahl and then again in the seventh, this time bringing Hobe Ferris and Lou Cringer across home plate to take a 3-0 lead.
Young kept his composure through the ninth inning, retiring Waddell with the final pitch and shouting “How do you like that, you hayseed” as the crowd broke into an enormous roar.
Young’s perfect game was not only the first of its kind in modern baseball, it came in the middle of a historic 45-inning streak of allowing zero runs.
Wadell and Young matched up again a year later in a 20-inning affair that the Athletics got the better of— Young gave up two unearned runs after dealing 13 scoreless ones before, and later stated “I think it was the greatest game of ball I ever took part in.”
Cy Young’s first perfect game is just one of the many terrific accomplishments that he earned over the course of his legendary career, but it is the most memorable.
Young went on to play for another seven years and later retired as a member of the Boston Rustlers. His name commemorates an annual award given to the most outstanding pitcher in Major League Baseball, and he is remembered as the greatest pitcher ever. Do you agree with this statement? Tell us more in the comment section!
Grant Mitchell is a sportswriter and multimedia contributor for the Sports 2.0 Network dealing with basketball, football, soccer, and other major sports: you can connect with him on Twitter @milemitchell to stay up to date with the latest sports news and to engage personally with him.