Harvey Haddix: Perfect For 12 Innings
It has been 50 years since Harvey Haddix pitched 12 innings of perfect baseball on May 26, 1959. He was pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates against the Milwaukee Braves on that night who sent Lew Burdette to the mound.
19,154 fans attended the game and saw the best game pitched in the history of major league baseball.
Haddix was not known for striking out a lot of hitters but did strikeout eight on this monumental night. His mound opponent Burdette struck out only two in 13 innings.
While Haddix was pitching 12 perfect innings Burdette allowed the Pirates to garner 12 hits but all were singles. Haddix had one of the hits against Burdette.
Roberto Clemente had apparently been injured in a game against the Reds two days before the perfect game and didn’t play again till July 5. If Clemente had been playing that day the Pirates may have won the game in regulation since leadoff hitter Dick Schofield was 3 for 6 in the game and Clemente may have had a chance to win the game in regulation time.
The game ended in the bottom of the thirteenth inning when Felix Mantilla started the bottom of the inning by reaching first on a throwing error by the Pirates third baseman Don Hoak. Eddie Mathews sacrificed Mantilla to second base.
Hank Aaron was intentionally walked giving the Braves runners on first and second base. Joe Adcock then homered giving the Braves an apparent 3-0 win.
However in his excitement Aaron left the basepaths and Adcock passed him. So instead of winning 3-0 the Braves won 1-0 when NL president Warren Giles ruled Adcock would only be credited with a double so only the run scored by Mantilla would count.
Burdette pitched a great game himself pitching the entire 13 innings and won the game despite allowing the 12 hits while Haddix allowed one hit and lost the game.
The Braves had five players in the lineup hitting over .300 after the game and Wes Covington was hitting over .300 when the game started but finished the game hitting .299.
Hank Aaron had a .442 average after the game which is a very high average considering it was the 38th game of the season.
Ironically Haddix would be the winning pitcher in the World Series clinching victory by the Pirates in the 1960 World Series. The Pirates had brought in one of their starters Bob Friend to start the ninth inning and after he gave up two singles Haddix another starter was called in from the bullpen.
Haddix retired Roger Maris on a foul flyout but then gave up a single to Mickey Mantle that made the score 9-8 in favor of the Pirates. He induces Yogi Berra to groundout at first base which allowed the tying run to score which knotted the score at 9-9. He got Bill Skowron to ground out forcing Mantle out at second base.
When Bill Mazeroski led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a walkoff homer Haddix became the winning pitcher in the 10-9 win.
Haddix had won 20 games in 1953 and 18 games in 1954 while pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals. He retired with a 136-113 record in 1965 and was released by the Baltimore Orioles the following January.
The Hall of Fame is full of pitchers who have won 300 games and struck out 3000 hitters but none of them ever pitched a game as well as the one Harvey Haddix pitched 50 years ago in Milwaukee.
Haddix was also a very good hitter hitting four home runs and having a lifetime average of .212 which is equivalent to a position player hitting .300.
In 1953 he had 28 hits for the Cardinals including three triples and hit .289. He hit .309 for the Phillies in 1957.
His seven lifetime triples were one more than Mark McGwire hit in 7660 plate appearances while Haddix hit his seven triples in only 871 plate appearances.
Haddix died on January 8, 1994 in Springfield, Ohio at the age of 68.