This afternoon the Baseball Gods smiled upon Dallas Braden and graced a guy, who’s life has been less than perfect, with the 19th perfect game in Baseball history. Call it karma, fortune, good pitching, defense or all of the above, but Braden’s perfect Mothers Day must hold a special significance to the 26 year old pitcher.
Raised only by his mother in a world rife with poverty and crime in Stockton California, Braden’s difficult childhood got even bleaker when he lost his mother to cancer while a senior in high school. With his grandmother stepping in to guide him, Braden managed to steer clear of disaster, on his way to being drafted in the 24th round by the Oakland A’s in 2004. Now six years later, after 52 fairly indistinguished Major League starts, the soft-tossing lefty better know for barking at Alex Rodriguez for jogging over his mound last month, somehow managed to set down 27 Tampa Bay batters in succession. With his grandmother watching, Braden dispatched a potent Rays lineup with 109 pitches (77 strikes) on his way into the history books. With the perfect game, Braden joined Catfish Hunter as the only A’s pitchers to perform the improbably feat.
The sight of him hugging his grandmother after the game touched not only those lucky enough to see the performance in person, but I would imagine just about anyone with a heart who witnessed the moment on TV. Braden’s perfect game was one of those transcendent moments in baseball, when our past time becomes something more than the sum of it’s parts. Pondering Braden’s achievement on a personal level, it’s a moment that shows that there is light to be found even in the darkest of times, something that I’ve had to remind myself a lot lately. Congratulations Dallas Braden. You deserve it.
For a great wrap up of 15.3 chance in a million feat, check out Jack Moore’s piece on Fangraphs.