A perfect(?) season

By all accounts, the 1981 season was one to forget for the Toronto Blue Jays, who finished with an overall record of 37-69 (.349) in the 106-game strike-shortened campaign. It was only fitting then, that the ‘highlight’ of the season featured Toronto playing the victim during the 12th perfect game in major-league history.

The infamous achievement happened on May 15, and came courtesy of Indians pitcher Len Barker, who remains the only opposing hurler to toss a perfect game in Blue Jay history. Interestingly, because of cold and wet conditions, Barker’s feat was witnessed by just 7,290 fans at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium that night.

The right-hander needed just 103 pitches — 74 strikes and 29 balls — to do away with the Blue Jays in a game that lasted two hours and nine minutes. Barker struck out 11 batters on the evening, including Al Woods (who pinch-hit for Danny Ainge) for the second out in the ninth. With 26 down and one to go, Toronto manager Bobby Mattick opted to pinch-hit Ernie Whitt in place of catcher — and future manager — Buck Martinez. Whitt, the Jays’ current bench coach, lifted a fly ball to center-field, which was caught by Rick Manning to officially put Barker’s name in the record books.

At least somebody was perfect that year.


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