In a very round about way (starting with the tragic news of the passing of Tony Phillips), I learned something today about a player from my favorite era of baseball–the days when I actually collected cards, played Strat-o-Matic, and didn’t worry so much about things like mortgages, paying taxes, or who the next President was going to be.
For some inexplicable reason, the Oakland A’s of the late 80’s were one of my favorite teams–never over my hometown Twins, but…well, the years between the two World Series victories, the Twins weren’t all that much to get excited about. One player who played a small, but somewhat significant, role for those A’s team was catcher Ron Hassey, who was basically the personal catcher of Bob Welch.
Turns out, Hassey has a little known fact for his career that makes him unique from all other players in the history of MLB–he is the only player to catch two perfect games.
His first came in 1981, catching a perfect game from Cleveland’s Len Barker, the highlight in a season that saw Cleveland finish in second to last place (despite being above .500–they finished 52-51 in the strike shortened season). Cleveland beat the Toronto Blue Jays 3-0.
His second perfect game came 10 years later, in 1991, while playing for the Montreal Expos. The starter in that game was Denny Martinez.
Also playing in that game (for the Los Angeles Dodgers) was Alfredo Griffin–the third perfect game he played in, all for the losing team. Griffin had played for the Blue Jays in 1981 against Barker, and Griffin and the Dodgers had also been beaten by Tom Browning in a perfect game in 1988. This stat was unique in MLB until 2012, when Tampa Bay Rays teammates Evan Longoria, Carlos Peña, B. J. Upton and Ben Zobrist were defeated in their third perfect game loss in 4 years.