Every time a pitcher completes a perfect game, as Yankees’ Domingo German did on Wednesday, the list of past pitchers who have achieved that feat is featured. The name is famous (Sandy Koufax! Cy Young!) but clearly not (Dallas Braden?).
At the top of that list are two names that are fairly easy to scroll through, and are nearly 25 years away from the others with significant gameplay differences.
1. Lee RichmondWorcester, 12 June 1880
2. John WardProvidence, June 17, 1880
Aside from the list of perfect games, their names are unfamiliar to modern users. Even their club disappeared. In a way, they may seem to exist only to be credited with pioneering feats that are apparently rare to this day. And sometimes even that doesn’t make sense, as many news outlets limit their lists to the so-called modern era of baseball, which began in 1901.
Richmond has at least top honors, and his flawless match against the Cleveland Blues was arguably the highlight of his sports career. But if you take the time to learn about Ward, who matched Richmond’s perfection five days later in a game against the Buffalo Bisons, the 27-man match Thursday afternoon at the Messer Street Ground in Providence, Rhode Island. You can see how hard it was to get all the hitters out of the game. A single line on his resume would make even Los Angeles Angels dual-wielding superstar Shohei Ohtani blush.
Ohtani’s pitching ability is awe-inspiring, but Ward, born in 1860 and known to many as Monte from his middle name Montgomery, was more than that. He threw a perfect game, won the National League ERA title, won 164 games as a pitcher, had 2,107 hits as a position player, stole 111 bases on the season, became a lawyer, unionized, and played his own game. founded a professional league, and just for fun, developed a very strong golf game, placing second in a prestigious tournament.