The perfect game in baseball is one of the rarest achievements in all of sports: 27 up, 27 down. Since 1876, there have been more than 200,000 major league baseball games, yet only 23 have ended in a perfect game.
In tonight’s edition of E:60 (7 p.m. ET, ESPN), many of the pitchers in this exclusive group — from Don Larsen to David Cone to Randy Johnson — reflect on their historic feats. Feature Producer Martin Khodabakhshian walks us through how the “Perfect Game” feature came together:[box color=blue size=small align=right]
What is the significance of doing a piece on “the perfect game” now?
The editor of the piece, Matt McCormick, suggested a no-hitter piece 10 years ago. I helped shape it into the “Perfect Game” piece which I then pitched to E:60 a few years back because I wanted to do a feature on what many consider the rarest and most difficult feat in sports. We finally got the green light last year. We figured we should get cranking after the sixth perfect game was pitched since 2008 (Felix Hernandez, last August).
Tell us some of the biggest challenges you faced putting this piece together:
The hardest thing was finding and getting in touch with all the players between February 2013 and now. Only two people declined an interview after repeated efforts: Sandy Koufax and Kenny Rogers. With that said, I did every interview with the 15 living perfect game pitchers in three states, primarily during spring training (Arizona, Florida and Idaho), including a few catchers and position players. [Associate Producer] Toby Hershkowitz played a vital role in gathering all the footage of all these perfect games, as well as some blown perfect games that are in the feature. I watched every pitch of every perfect game before interviewing all these pitchers.
We have a total of about 20 interviews so far and are still pursuing others we’d like to showcase in a longer feature show. The purpose is to get more of the great material that we have of such a rare and first-of-its-kind feature. We’ll incorporate more sound from the pitchers we already have, some outside perspectives from catchers, position players, umpires, and other subjects who’ve had a unique connection with these perfect games.
Any other stories or behind-the-scenes moments you can share?
It was truly an unbelievable experience meeting all these guys. Don Larsen — what a thrill to meet the only man who has ever thrown a perfect game in a World Series game. After the interview, we spoke about everything from Armenian food to his journey to the majors — so much so that I nearly missed my flight home — which would have been worth it to anyone, except my wife! And meeting Sen. Jim Bunning, talking California roots with Dallas Braden, and finding out that Mark Buehrle would do an interview even though he generally declines them — so many great moments.
Read more of this interview by visiting Front Row’s Facebook page.
For more on tonight’s slate of stories, visit here and scroll down to the E:60 item.