The Philadelphia Phillies’ Jim Bunning tossed a Fathers Day perfect game against the New York Mets, 56 years ago today.
On June 21, 1964, during the first game of a Sunday doubleheader at Shea Stadium, Bunning retired all 27 Mets batters en route to a 6-0 win. Bunning struck out 10 batters, finishing the game by fanning pinch-hitter John Stephenson.
Bunning, who threw a no-hitter for the Detroit Tigers in 1958, eschewed superstition for his Fathers Day perfecto. Less than a month earlier at Colt Stadium, Bunning had lost a no-hitter in the seventh inning against the Houston Colt ’45s and realized that the baseball tradition of no one talking about it created too much tension.
“I said if I ever get close again, I’m going to talk about it to anybody who will listen,” Bunning told me for Baseball’s No-Hit Wonders. “And that’s what I did in New York.”
So at Shea when Bunning returned to the dugout after retiring the first 15 batters, he announced, “Hey, guys, five perfect innings. Now let’s start diving at the ball.” After helping his cause with a two-RBI double in the sixth, Bunning continued the dugout chatter.
“The manager got away from me,” he said. “He walked off the bench when I was on it. He stayed completely away from me.”
Bunning’s gem was the majors’ first perfecto in 84 years, and it ended the longest no-hitter drought for a team, which lasted 8,945 games over 58 years, 1 month and 18 days. The Phillies hadn’t had a no-no since Johnny Lush no-hit the Brooklyn Superbas at Brooklyn’s Washington Park on May 1, 1906, and the score of that game was also 6-0.
The San Diego Padres hold the record for the longest stretch without a single no-no, now standing at 8,138 regular-season games. The Friars eclipsed the Mets mark last year, which ended at 8,019 games when Johan Santana no-hit the St. Louis Cardinals on June 1, 2012.