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updated: 4/22/2012 2:49 AM

Humble Humber goes immortal with perfecto

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  • White Sox starting pitcher Phil Humber threw the 21st perfect game in major-league history Saturday against the Mariners.

      White Sox starting pitcher Phil Humber threw the 21st perfect game in major-league history Saturday against the Mariners.
    Associated Press

 
 

When the Orioles were in Chicago last week, Philip Humber had a long conversation with Baltimore broadcaster Jim Palmer.

Humber said it was mostly about how to approach hitters.

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Maybe he should have asked Palmer about how to approach no-hitters.

Palmer threw one 43 years ago against Oakland.

Humber bested Palmer on Saturday in Seattle when he became the 21st pitcher in major-league history to throw a perfect game.

Palmer never threw one. Cy Young did, and he was, like, the Cy Young of Cy Youngs.

Several other Hall of Famers threw perfect games, like Sandy Koufax, Jim Bunning, Catfish Hunter and future Cooperstown resident Randy Johnson.

Humber's name now resides on the same list.

"I don't know what Philip Humber is doing on that list," Humber told reporters in Seattle after the game. "I have no idea what my name is doing there."

It is typical of Humber's humble nature that he can't believe something this great has happened to someone he believes is so ordinary.

"They're telling me in the clubhouse that I have to give stuff to the Hall of Fame," Humber said. "I've been to the Hall of Fame. To think something of mine is going to be there is pretty awesome."

Perhaps most surprising is that Humber said he didn't think his stuff was all that great in the White Sox' 4-0 victory in Seattle on Saturday afternoon, at least not until late in the game.

"Not until the sixth or seventh inning," Humber said. "But I judge more by the way the ball's coming out of my hand, more than the stat line."

It was about that time that Humber began to realize something special just might happen.

"Once you get past the fifth, you know what's going on," Humber said. "But you also know it's a slim chance.

"But with each inning, you know there's a better chance. In the ninth inning, you're standing there on the mound with a chance to throw a perfect game."

That's when Humber showed the first sign of nerves.

Facing the bottom third of the lineup in the ninth, Humber saw his first 3-ball at 3-0 after he missed high and outside on Michael Saunders with 3 fastballs.

The fourth pitch was a 92-mph fastball a bit low and inside, but was called strike one. Saunders swung at ball four high for strike two and then Humber brutalized Saunders with a slider in on the hands for a swinging, strike three.

John Jaso flied out softly on an 0-2 pitch for the second out and then came Brendan Ryan fishing for a 3-2 slider far out of the zone and the second-most famous dropped third strike of A.J. Pierzynski's career.

"I didn't think (Ryan) went," said Seattle manager Eric Wedge, "but I didn't take a look at the replay."

Replay can't change history and Humber's place in it.

"As far as baseball goes, it's at the top of the list for me," Humber said. "Hopefully, there's more to come. Better would be a World Series championship.

"I can't even put it into words. I'm grateful. There's so many people to thank. A lot of people played a part in this."

That's Philip Humber. Humble even when he's perfect.

brozner@dailyherald.com

• Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM, and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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