As I set the roster for my fantasy baseball team so classily named “Itchy Bucholz”, I found myself looking for a pitcher or two to stream. As I glossed over the list of pitching probables for the day, I came across Phil Humber.
He was the fifth man in a typical five-man starting rotation. Compared to the other four, Humber’s name looked kind of out of place. There was John Danks, the staff ace that hadn’t quite lived up to expectations thus far in the south side. There was Jake Peavy, an MLB stalwart for years and the patriarchic veteran of the staff. After him was Gavin Floyd, a lesser-known but solid third pitcher. Just ahead of Humber was Chris Sale, the highly-touted prospect that was trying to make the jump from reliever to starter.
Then there was Phil Humber, a guy with a career ERA over 4.00 and a middling 11-10 record. He had been passed around from ballclub to ballclub not with big free agency contracts but by being claimed off of waivers. After he was sent to Minnesota in a package deal for Johan Santana, the Twins let him slip away. Kansas City picked him up, but they too let him leave on waivers. When Oakland got him, they didn’t even let him throw a pitch in the majors and he spent the entire time in AAA.
By the time he got his shot with the White Sox last season, he was already 28. Despite going 9-9, he pitched effectively and had a K/BB ratio of roughly 3:1. It seemed he had earned a second season in the White Sox’s rotation.
So it comes with almost some amusement that Phil Humber, the 29-year-old journeyman pitcher out of Rice, became the 21st professional pitcher EVER to throw a perfect game.
Instead of being another forgettable face in an ocean of dreams that is America’s pastime, Phil Humber will now be linked to guys like Cy Young, Don Larsen, Sandy Koufax, Randy Johnson, and Roy Halladay. No matter what he does from here on out, the finesse righty from Nacogdoches, Texas will have a home in Cooperstown.
That’s exactly why this story is so amazing. Baseball has its dark places (steroids, drugs, gambling) like any other professional sport, but it also has the ability to romanticize even the most pessimistic sports fan. No one — not even Phil Humber — believed he was going to retire 27 consecutive batter on a Spring Day in Seattle. But he did. And it was unforgettable.
NOTE: This article was originally posted on SportsHead. To read this story and others click here.
When Bryan isn’t writing for GuysNation, he is on Twitter! Follow him @bclienesch!