Today (Sept 2) marks the 37th anniversary of Chicago Cub Milt Pappas' razor thin close call with perfection (in 1972 for those math challenged). After retiring the first 26 batters in a row and reaching a 3-2 count on the 27th batter (Larry Stahl of the San Diego Padres) Pappas was one pitch shy of perfection. Unfortunately the call was a ball (lets not over react to a correct call made by then plate umpire Bruce Froemming) and perfection was "ruined". Pappas did however retire the next batter to secure the no-hitter and an 8 - 0 victory at Wrigley Field. Still today, Pappas has the unique honor of being the only pitcher to have a perfect game "ruined" by a base on ball to the 27th batter.
Pappas's career began in1957 with the Baltimore Orioles appearing in only 4 games, yet 1958 began a string of eleven years in a row of double digit victories. Prior to that infamous day in 1972, Pappas was probably best known for being traded to the Cincinnati Reds during the off season of 1965 for the "old" superstar Frank Robinson.
Two and half years in Cincinnati and a couple of stints with the Atlanta Braves, Pappas was traded to the Chicago Cubs in June of 1970. Arguably, his finest year was in 1972 as Pappas compiled a 17-7 win-loss record and a top ten in the Cy Young award voting.
Pappas finished his career in 1973 with a 209 - 164 record, 3186 innings pitched and a better than 2 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio (1728 to 858). With 110 wins as an Oriole, Pappas came within one win shy of achieving 100 wins in the NL as well. Pappas would have been just the eighth pitcher to achieve 100 wins in both leagues joining; Cy Young, Al Orth, Jim Bunning, Gaylord Perry, Nolan Ryan, Ferguson Jenkins and Dennis Martinez.
Once again, Pappas was just one shy of being part of an exclusive club. So today I honor Milt Pappas and being just one shy . . .
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