Accomplishing a perfect game in baseball proved to be one of the most challenging tasks ever. Although throwing a perfect game cannot promise a win or a shutout, it can influence odds to one’s favor, allowing a player to hinder all 27 batters.
Believe it or not, there are great men in baseball history who were able to throw perfect games during their time, which leads us to the question: “How many perfect games have been thrown in MLB history?”
Perfect Games in MLB History
There have been a total of twenty-three (23) perfect games thrown in MLB history. The gaps between some of these events range from a year to a decade. And the record of the perfect games began during the 1880s.
Perfect games happen very rarely in major league baseball. Thus, a pitcher winning a perfect game in baseball proves to be a very excellent record.
The teams with the highest number of perfect games thrown in MLB history are the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox. Both teams have thrown a total of three (3) perfect games.
What Is a Perfect Game in Baseball
A perfect game in major league baseball is a game thrown by pitchers in nine innings or more that prevents the batter from reaching base.
What makes a perfect game an arduous effort and a rare achievement is that it requires effort from many players against the rival team.
A perfect game can only be achieved if a team, with its pitchers, ensures that no player reaches a base through any of the events: uncaught third strikes, interference by the catcher or fielder, hits, base on balls, hit batsmen, or any other fielding error.
In short, it demands a clean nine-inning game against a competitor. That is how a team accomplishes a perfect game!
Some Facts on Players Who Threw Perfect Games in MLB History
To arrive at a more contextual way of understanding and experiencing a perfect game, let us look into it based on the performances of some top pitchers who were instrumental in the total 23 number of perfect games in major league baseball history (not in order):
- Roy Halladay: Known fondly as “Doc,” Halladay was not a top pitch figure. But when he was thirty-three (33), his career reached new heights.
It seems that the year of 2010 was the best season for him because it was during this year that he earned a total of nine complete games, one-walk and no-hitter versus the Reds, twenty-one MLB total wins, a ratio record of 7.3 strikeout-to-walk, four shutouts, and more.
Throughout his career, he won in total two Cy Young awards.
He threw the 20th perfect game in MLB history.
- Felix Hernandez: Garnering a six-time all-star title, Hernandez (a Mariners ace) ranks as one of the most notable pitchers of his time. Fans even call him the “King.”
And which season did he shine the brightest? The 2012 season, of course. It was a momentous time for him because Hernadez threw a perfect game that year and still remains as the last man to achieve the task.
But even before this feat, he had already won the AL Cy Young Award two years prior. In other words, the perfect game and twelve strikeouts obtained during the 2012 season only further cemented the given honor.
He threw the 23rd perfect game in MLB history.
- Randy Johnson: On May 18, 2004, Johnson of MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Atlanta Braves with a 2-0 score, throwing a perfect game no one thought was possible.
Throwing a perfect game at forty years old makes him the oldest pitcher in the MLB record to secure a perfect game! Moreover, said achievement added to the list of perfect games in MLB history.
But the hurrahs do not simply end there for this achievement by Johnson, as it marks the first time the Diamondbacks earned a no-hitter as well.
- Matt Cain: If you inquire about the 22nd perfect game pitched in MLB history, you’d have to trace it to Matt Cain. The Giants sure thanked and honored him for it because, like Johnson, Cain’s achievement was the first-ever perfect game achievement of the Giants.
Cain’s perfect game was more than a sophisticated attempt. De-powering all fourteen batters in a complete game, Cain earned a total of 14 spectacular strikeouts, which is one of the biggest strikeouts since Koufax’s 1965 Los Angeles Dodgers feat.
This turning point for Cain’s career was also the time he shattered his own record of 12 strikeouts in 2006. The 2012 season only further testified to Cain’s remarkable ability.
Other top pitchers who threw perfect games:
- Mark Buehrle: Threw the 18th perfect game in MLB history
- Philip Humber: Threw the 21st perfect game in MLB history
- Dallas Braden: Threw the 19th perfect game in MLB history
- David Cone: Threw the 16th perfect game in MLB history
- Kenny Rogers: Threw the 14th perfect game in MLB history
- Don Larsen: Threw the 6th perfect game in MLB history
- Len Barker: Threw the 10th perfect game in MLB history
- David Wells: Threw the 15th perfect game in MLB history
- Dennis Martinez: Threw the 13th perfect game in MLB history
- Tom Browning: Threw the 12th perfect game in MLB history
- John Ward: Threw the 2nd perfect game in MLB history
- Jim Bunning: Threw the 7th perfect game in MLB history
- Mike Witt: Threw the 11th perfect game in MLB history
- Len Barker: Threw the 10th perfect game in MLB history
- Sandy Koufax: Threw the 8th perfect game in MLB history
- Catfish Hunter: Threw the 9th perfect game in MB history
- Lee Richmond: Threw the 1st perfect game in MLB history
- Cy Young: Threw the 3rd perfect game in MLB history
The answer to “how many perfect games have been thrown in MLB history” is “twenty-three” (23). That has been the total figure to date, as per MLB historians and statisticians.
The names that were instrumental to these perfect game records included the likes of Cy Young, Matt Cain, Felix Hernandez, Charlie Roberston, and many others.
Achieving a perfect game is a rare event in major league baseball because perfect games are too challenging to pull off. But with these winners, the feats became possible.