“I could have put a cup on either corner of the plate and hit it”
When do 12 perfectly pitched innings not count? Well, when you are Harvey ‘The Kitten’ Haddix, the 5′ 9″, 170-pound wiry southpaw, whose brilliant 20-9 rookie season for the Cardinals–and (near)-perfect game against the Braves–is all but forgotten.
Haddix was solid .500+ starting pitcher during his journeyman career. The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers has him working the mound from 1952 to 1965, and posting a 136-113 lifetime win-loss record with 99 complete games and 21 shutouts–finishing out his career as an effective reliever with the Orioles (3.63 ERA, 21 saves).
But, on the night of May 26, 1959, in what Sports Illustrated calls The Greatest Game Ever Pitched, Haddix, relying almost exclusively on his fastball and slider, pitched 12 perfect innings. After retiring 36 consecutive batters, Maddix watched the longest perfect game ever pitched slip through his fingers (no pun intended), when his Pirate teammates couldn’t seal the deal off of the dozen or so hits they had accumulated off opposing pitcher Lew Burdette , who was working on a less elegant but effective shut-out game against them.
The tale is told in “Harvey Haddix,” one of 13 songs featured on the Baseball Project’s 2009 release Vol. 1: Frozen Ropes & Dying Quails. And, now just in time for opening day (yes, it’s almost here!), they have released a second album of songs all about the national pastime, Volume 2: High and Inside.
With songs like “Chin Music”, and others about Ichiro, Roger Clemens, Bill Buckner (NY Mets fans will love the Bill Buckner/Mookie Wilson references), and one called “Don’t Call Them Twinkies” (about the 2010 Twins), this new release also features the song ‘1976’ a tribute to the late Mark (the Bird) Fidrych.
Listen to a preview of the new album and read “The Baseball Project: For Love of the Game by Robert Christgau…