I was lucky enough to be one of the 28,036 in attendance at Comiskey Park U.S. Cellular Field on Thursday afternoon to watch Mark Buehrle throw the 16th perfect game in modern MLB history—No. 18 overall.
I've seen guys hit milestone home runs, pitchers earn their 300th victory (twice), division clinchers and World Series games in person, but the electricity in the park with two outs in the ninth inning of a perfect game is unmatched.
The fans were doing their best not to jinx anything, but whispers of perfection could be heard as early as the fifth inning. It started to get real in the top of the seventh, when everyone was already standing before "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" was broadcast over the speakers.
Besides a few three-ball counts to hitters, the first real scare came in the eighth inning, when, with two outs, Rays DH Pat Burrell lined a shot past White Sox 3B Gordon Beckham which missed the foul line by less than an inch.
It goes without saying, but Mark Buehrle was absolutely brilliant on the mound, and was in command all game long. A strong indicator of how good he was is that there were no balls hit out of the infield between the fourth and eighth innings of the game, a span of 15 hitters.
Then came the first batter in the top of the ninth.
Between innings, my friend Dan turned to me and said, "Ozzie better get the slow guys like Dye and Quentin out of the game, because I want to see a leaping catch over the wall to rob a home run."
Unbelievably, I'm not kidding about this, and thankfully, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen listened.
Between innings Guillen removed LF Carlos Quentin, moved CF Scott Podsednik to left, and put in Dewayne Wise as a defensive replacement in center.
From my seat down the left field line, Gabe Kapler's long drive looked like a double in the gap and on the TV replay it looked like a sure home run.
Without the defensive substitution to get Wise into the game, it almost assuredly would have been. With everyone in U.S. Cellular Field holding their collective breaths, Wise timed his jump perfectly, planted a foot on the wall, put his glove over the fence and brought the ball back.
But that's not all.
Upon landing, the ball popped out of his glove and Wise had the presence of mind to use his bare hand and glove to secure the catch while falling to the dirt on the warning track.
When he came up holding the ball the place went absolutely nuts, and yet I could still hear Hawk Harrelson making the call from the broadcast booth—ok not really, but you get the idea.
There is no way Quentin, Dye or Podsednik make that catch.
From there, the last two outs were a formality. After getting a defensive play like that behind him there was no way Buehrle was letting a three-ball count on Michel Hernandez (who?) or a .338 hitter in Jason Bartlett stand between him and history.
With the chants of "Buehr-le, Buehr-le" ringing out across the stadium, Bartlett hit a grounder to SS Alexei Ramirez who threw over to first to complete perfection.
Even though I'm a Cubs fan (good thing they were off today), I'm happy to see Buehrle, a St. Louis native and Southside pitcher, become a part of history. It was an absolute thrill to watch him do it in person, and I tip my cap to a excellent pitcher and an all-around good guy. Congrats Mark.
This article originally posted on Cubicle GM.