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The first no-hitter officially recognized by Major League Baseball was on July 15, 1876. George Bradley kept the Hartford Dark Blues hitless for nine innings, leading the St. Louis Brown Stockings to a 2-0 victory.

Since then, there have been 317 no-hitters in Major League Baseball. On Saturday, there was very nearly the 318th. White Sox pitcher Dylan Cease got 26 outs against the Twins without giving up a hit. He had faced only one batter above the minimum through 8 2/3 innings. With one out needed to complete his no-hitter, Cease gave up a single to Luis Arraez. He was as close as a pitcher can get to throwing a no-hitter but didn’t finish it.

A perfect game is even more rare than a no-hitter. A pitcher not even allowing a baserunner (no hits, no walks) has happened just 23 times in Major League Baseball history. Lee Richmond pitched the first one, on June 12, 1880, supposedly after staying up all night “taking part in college graduation events” (ahem). The most recent perfect game was Felix Hernandez’s in 2012.

And like Cease on Saturday, there have been several times when a pitcher has come very close to throwing a perfect game, only to lose it on the last out. One of the worst instances was Armando Galarraga on June 2, 2010. Pitching for the Tigers, Galarraga had kept the Cleveland Indians from reaching first base for 26 outs. But umpire Jim Joyce incorrectly ruled Jason Donald safe at first on a two-out, ninth-inning grounder, ending Galarraga’s bid for a perfect game.

Joyce later admitted that he had botched the call, and that getting it wrong haunted him for a long time afterward, even though Galarraga and the Tigers tried to put it behind them.

Cease’s lost no-hitter on Saturday was just bad luck. Or a mistake pitch that Arraez capitalized on. Galarraga’s was someone else’s mistake. In both of their cases, and in many others like theirs, I am impressed by people who can come very, very close to acheiving something monumental only to fall just short, while still maintaining a sense of grace and composure in the aftermath. It must be very hard to keep yourself in check while processing the disappointment. I can’t really relate. I don’t know that there’s an equivalent in my life, but imagining getting that close to accomplishing something so rare only to miss out makes me wonder if I could handle being almost there as well as these guys do.


Jared is a freelance baseball writer who lives in suburban Chicago with his wife and four young children who share his love of baseball. When he's not doing that, he teaches and reads baseball history.



Twitter @jwyllys

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