Chicago White Sox Pitcher Mark Buehrle became only the 18th Major League Baseball player to pitch a perfect game. It is the first such game pitched in the Major Leagues in five years. The achievement is drawing attention from one of the most prominent fans of the White Sox, U.S. President Barack Obama.
Mark Buehrle is now a member of one of the most exclusive clubs in baseball.
At the Chicago White Sox U.S. Cellular Field on Chicago's South Side, the 30-year-old pitcher retired all 27 batters from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays without allowing anyone to reach first base, pitching a perfect game and putting his name in a record book occupied by only 17 others in Major League history.
Speaking at a post-game news conference, Buehrle said it was an achievement of a lifetime.
"Any time your name gets knocked over some of the greats in the game obviously it means a lot," he said. "But I think it's another thing when you retire and you sit back and you see how many perfect games have been thrown in the history [of the sport] and your name's in there. I think that's when you sit back and kind of be surprised."
It was a feat celebrated by Chicago White Sox fans throughout the Windy City on Thursday, but the rare accomplishment might not have taken place without the help of one of Buehrle's teammates.
In the ninth inning, Tampa Bay batter Gabe Kapler sent a ball heading for the stands in left-centerfield, threatening a home run and spoiling Buerhle's perfect game. White Sox Outfielder DeWayne Wise, who had just been inserted in the lineup for defense, saw the ball coming and headed for the front of the stands where he leaped, stuck his glove above the wall, and caught the ball for an out.
In the end, the White Sox defeated the Devil Rays 5-0.
It was not the first time Buehrle pitched a no-hitter. His first attempt at a perfect game came in 2007 against the Texas Rangers. But during that game, he walked All Star Sammy Sosa early in the match, and fell short of a perfect game.
After celebrating the achievement Thursday with teammates and fans, Buehrle received a phone call from one of his biggest, and most prominent fans. President Barack Obama, a White Sox fan, who chatted with the pitcher in the clubhouse of the All Star game last week before throwing out the first pitch, is left handed like Buehrle. He phoned a message of congratulations in between stops in Cleveland and Chicago where the president was campaigning for health care reform.
The Chicago White Sox are currently in second place in the American League Central Division, one game behind the team they face on the road in the coming days, the Detroit Tigers.