Oakland Athletics’ pitcher Dallas Braden managed the rarest of baseball feats – a perfect game – on Mother’s Day, a date with special significance for him. The 26-year-old Braden’s mother died of melanoma when he was in high school, and he was raised in part by his grandmother, who was in the stands to see him complete the perfect game. She gave him a tearful hug in front of the dugout after the game, clearly proud of her grandson, who was raised in nearby Stockton, CA.
For those of you unschooled in baseball terms, a perfect game is one where no batter from the opposing team reaches base. Nine players up, nine players down. The still impressive but much less rare no-hitter allows for batters to reach base on errors, hit batsmen, walks, and by other weird and arcane baseball rules which I either can’t think of or have never heard of. To give you an idea of just how rare a perfect game is, in major league history Braden’s is just the 19th ever, in around 200,000 games played (if Yahoo Answers is to be believed, and I’m sure it’s a perfectly reliable source).
Braden, with just 18 wins and 23 losses in his three-year major league career, may have seemed an unlikely candidate for such an illustrious accomplishment. After all, he had previously been best known (this season, at least) for becoming enraged at New York Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez during a game Braden pitched on April 22. Rodriguez had broken an “unwritten rule” of baseball (of which there are many) by walking over the pitcher’s mound on a trip back to first from third when he was a baserunner.
Whatever Braden’s career holds for him in the future, he will forever be linked with some of the greats in the game by this accomplishment. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if achieving it on Mother’s Day with his grandmother in the stands, and thus honoring the two women who raised him, might not mean more to him in the end.