Forty-six years ago today, on Sept. 2, 1972, the Chicago Cubs’ Milt Pappas no-hit the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field, becoming the only pitcher in MLB history to lose a perfect game by walking the 27th batter but still get a no-hitter (two others did it on hit batsmen).
Pappas retired the first 26 Padres he faced and was one out away from a perfect game with a 3-2 count on pinch-hitter Larry Stahl when home plate umpire Bruce Froemming called a ball to issue the base on balls. Pappas started yelling at Froemming and nearly got kicked out of the game.
“I’ve got a call, and I’m not a fan. I’m an umpire,” Froemming told the MLB Network’s Bob Costas.
Pappas managed to get pinch-hitter Garry Jestadt to pop out to second to complete the no-no, an 8-0 victory.
I interviewed Pappas for Baseball’s No-Hit Wonders a couple of years before he passed and he was still upset with umpire Froemming for not giving him calls on the final batter to give him the perfecto. Pappas told me that people still came up to him to talk about that game.
“I’m still being recognized and still going out and signing autographs, and I’m wondering to myself on numerous occasions, ‘If I would have done the perfect game, would I be getting this kind of adulation?” he asked. “I wouldn’t have had the 40 years of ‘Man, you got screwed’ and ‘Who’s that umpire that called that?’”