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Associated Press
Matt and Chelsea Cain

Furthermore …

File

Another perfect memory, thanks to baseball

What do a perfect game and a kiss have in common?

In 1922, a little-known pitcher for the Chicago White Sox, Charlie Robertson, pitched a perfect game against the Detroit Tigers. That is notable because there was not another perfect game in major league baseball until Oct. 8, 1956, when Don Larsen of the New York Yankees threw one in the World Series. That was the sixth perfect game since 1880.

Since Larsen’s perfecto, as sports pages call such games, there have been 16, including one Wednesday night pitched by Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants. Cain’s was in fact the sixth this century. The perfect game is no longer so unusual.

In a perfect game, a pitcher faces the minimum number of batters, 27, getting them all out in one-two-three order each inning. One reason the perfect game is fairly rare, though growing less so, is that luck plays a big part. Indeed, Cain benefited from two excellent catches in the outfield. In 2009, Mark Buehrle of the White Sox would not have thrown his perfect game had it not been for DeWayne Wise, whose catch in the ninth (and final) inning saved it. (See photo at right.)

Baseball analysts have offered several theories for the increase in what was once the rarest of feats. As baseball has expanded, about twice as many games are played in a season as there were when Robertson and Larsen were pitching. After years of strong hitting, the pitchers have come to be more dominant.

Regardless, for baseball fans, a perfect game is something to discuss, debate and deconstruct for days, examining statistics and running them through computers powerful enough to launch missiles. But baseball is, believe it or not, more than stats. Maybe those fans overlook the human element.

“Matt Cain and his wife, Chelsea, returned to the field an hour and a half later for a few more perfect memories,” The Associated Press reported Thursday morning. “They snapped photos on the mound, posing with the workers who tore it down so the dirt could be sent to the Hall of Fame. Then they walked away hand in hand, stopping in left field for an embrace and long kiss.”

So whether a perfect game is rare or not, or whether the pitcher is lucky or not, we offer cheers to Matt Cain, as well as to Chelsea Cain, for giving baseball fans something to treasure.

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