As the offseason drags on and the stir of the Winter Meetings fade, I am here as the ghost of Oakland A’s past. I’m here to remind you all of good times. As the year winds down, I’ve caught up on my reading list which inspired me to learn more about Catfish Hunter.
And who knows? Maybe reminiscing on glory days – specifically, Catfish’s perfect game and some facts you may not know about that day – will spread goods vibes in 2023 and defy what little expectation we may have.
Catfish Hunter wasn’t just pitching a gem that day.
That’s right. In that game against the Minnesota Twins in 1968, Catfish had to hit too. And, seemingly riding the high of retiring consecutive batters that day, he had three hits out of ten total, driving in three runs to take the victory. It’s almost unbelievable.
Of course, this would be overshadowed by a literal perfect game. But I did promise you some facts you might not have known about that game. According to Jack Aker, Catfish’s roommate, “There was just one thing he did wrong…he flied to center field once.” Call me crazy but I think this one is excusable in light of everything.
He was out there with barely a rookie for support.
As luck (or maybe not so much) would have it, Joe Rudi was playing left field. Rudi would go on to become a key part of the A’s dynasty, contributing to the team’s three consecutive World Series wins. But on Catfish’s day, Rudi had just returned from a stint in the minors.
And funny enough, Rudi had never played in the Coliseum before. The year before, the team was still in Kansas City and that stadium was all he knew. Upon remembering his returning to the majors, Rudi said “I’d never played there before, and I was scared to death.”
What a welcome back to the majors.
A cardinal sin of baseball may have been committed.
The usual tension existed in the dugout. No one wants to be the guy who talks to the guy in the middle of a perfect game. On top of that, it was still scoreless after seven innings.
But, quite hilariously, Jim Pagliaroni revealed years later that Catfish came back to the dugout and yelled “We got a no-no going. That ought to give ‘em something to think about.” This apparently cut the tension and the A’s broke it open. I guess it’s okay if the pitcher is the one talking about it?
I hope these hilarious facts will carry you another week of the off-season and is a slight distraction to whatever is going on for the A’s right now.