David Cone's perfect game
David Cone of the New York Yankees pitched a perfect game against the Montreal Expos by retiring all 27 batters he faced on Sunday, July 18, 1999. This event took place at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx in front of 41,930 fans in attendance. The game took 2:16 from 1:35 PM ET to 4:24 PM ET. The game was interrupted by a 33-minute rain delay in the bottom of the third inning in the middle of an at-bat for Tino Martinez.
It was the 16th perfect game and 247th no-hitter in MLB history, 3rd perfect game and 11th no-hitter and last to date in Yankees history. The previous perfect game in both MLB and Yankee history was 14 months prior on May 17, 1998 when David Wells of the New York Yankees pitched a perfect game against the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium. Wells' perfect game was also the most recent no hitter in franchise history at the time.
Cone's perfect game gave the Yankees the record for the franchise with most perfect games, breaking a two-perfect game tie with the Cleveland Indians. Since Cone's perfecto, the Oakland Athletics, Philadelphia Phillies, and Chicago White Sox have recorded their second perfect games, with the White Sox tying the Yankees with a third perfect game in 2012.
David Cone was a third round pick in the 1981 Major League Baseball Draft by the Kansas City Royals. Cone made his major league debut on June 8, 1986. He pitched the ninth inning in a 5–2 loss against the Minnesota Twins. He allowed one earned run and three hits. He was traded to the New York Mets prior to the start of the 1987 season. The Mets made him a starter and made his first career start on April 27 against the Houston Astros. He pitched five innings, giving up ten hits, seven earned runs and striking out three. Cone would pitch for the Mets until 1992. He was traded at the deadline to the Toronto Blue Jays and helped them to their first World Series. Cone would return to the Royals for the 1993 and 1994 seasons. He was traded for a second time to the Blue Jays prior to the 1995 season. At the 1995 trade deadline he was dealt to the Yankees. Prior to his perfecto he helped the Yankees to the postseason four straight years, winning two World Series and was a 20-game winner in 1998.
The Yankees' third perfect game was witnessed by the battery that executed its first perfect game. Before the game began, Don Larsen, who himself had thrown a perfect game in the 1956 World Series, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Yogi Berra, who caught that game.2 It was Yogi Berra Day at the stadium, as he had recently reconciled with owner George Steinbrenner.3
David Cone never worked a count more than 2–0. A 33-minute rain delay interrupted the game in the third inning.4 The Yankees scored the bulk of their runs in the second inning. Chili Davis walked, then Ricky Ledée proceeded to hit a home run into the upper right field deck. Scott Brosius was hit by a pitch, then was knocked in on a double by Joe Girardi. Girardi was tagged out for trying to stretch the hit into a triple and was caught between 2nd and 3rd. Chuck Knoblauch worked a walk and then Derek Jeter hit a home run to make it 5–0. In the eighth inning, O'Neill led off with a double to right and was scored on a single to center by Bernie Williams. In the third inning, Paul O'Neill saved the game with a diving catch in right field. In the eighth inning, Knoblauch made another game saving play when Jose Vidro hit a ball hard between first and second. He had rapid range to his left and preserved the perfect game.
A summer afternoon game at Yankee Stadium always brings harsh visibility conditions due to the sun. The latter innings of the game would always test the defense for both teams. Cone struck out Chris Widger swinging to start the inning. Ryan McGuire pinch hit for Shane Andrews and hit a soft fly ball to left field for Ricky Ledée. Ledee struggled to meet the ball due to blinding sunlight but made the play and would claim afterward he wasn't sure how he did so. The last batter, Orlando Cabrera, popped up to third baseman Scott Brosius in foul territory to end the game.4 Immediately afterwards, David fell on his knees and into the arms of catcher Joe Girardi. This has become one of the most enduring images in baseball history.
- HR: Ledee (3), Jeter (16)
- HBP: Brosius, Knoblauch by Vazquez
- Pitches–strikes: Vazquez 118–76, Ayala 14–8, Cone 88–60
- Groundouts–flyouts: Vazquez 11–13, Ayala 3–0, Cone 4–13
- Batters faced: Vazquez 31, Ayala 3, Cone 27
- Umpires: HP – Ted Barrett, 1B – Larry McCoy, 2B – Jim Evans, 3B – Chuck Meriwether
- Weather: 91°, sunny
- Time of first pitch: 1:35 PM ET
- Time: 2:16
- Attendance: 41,930
- Venue: Yankee Stadium
David Cone had nearly the same Yankee lineup behind him for his perfect game as David Wells did. The only exceptions were that Cone had Ledee as his left fielder and Davis as his designated hitter, while Wells was backed by Chad Curtis and Darryl Strawberry respectively. In addition Jorge Posada who was on the bench for Cone's perfect game was David Wells' battery mate in 1998.
After his perfect game, Cone seemed to decline rapidly. He never threw another shutout in his career. In 2000, he posted a career-worst 4–14 record5 with a 6.91 ERA. In the 2000 World Series, he faced one batter, Mike Piazza in Game 4, to whom he induced a pop-up to end the fifth inning.6
- "'FOR BASEBALL JUNKIES- Where baseball fans of all ages come to discuss the biggest stories in baseball and the history of America's pastime. Trivia, Opinion, Top 10 Lists, Fantasy and more.'". Baseballjunkies.blogspot.com. 2011-07-01. Retrieved 2011-12-12.
- "David Cone Perfect Game Box Score by Baseball Almanac". Baseball-almanac.com. 1999-07-18. Retrieved 2011-12-12.
- "Don Mattingly At Yogi Berra Day July 18, 1999". Donniebaseball.com. Retrieved 2011-12-12.
- "Baseball's Best | MLB.com: Programming". Mlb.mlb.com. Retrieved 2011-12-12.
- "Ruminations - November 19, 2000". NetShrine. 2000-11-19. Retrieved 2011-12-12.
- "Classic Yankees: David Cone". Bronx Baseball Daily. 2011-09-16. Retrieved 2011-12-12.