Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Milt Pappas was Almost Perfect

On this day in 1972, Milt Pappas was almost perfect. To this day, he is still very adamant that he should have been perfect.
Up until that day in 1972, he was most famous for being traded (with 2 others) for Frank Robinson. Pappas was a very good pitcher. He won 210 games, 99 in the NL and 110 in the AL.
In midseason of '70, the Chicago Cubs purchased him from the Atlanta Braves. Over the next 3 1/2 seasons, Pappas went 51-44 for the Cubs.
It was his no-hitter on 9/2/72, for which Pappas will always be remembered. Part of the reason is that Pappas will never let anyone forget it.
He doesn't brag about the no-hitter. He gripes about it. More precisely, he continually complains that the umpire (Bruce Froemming) should have given him the 3rd strike for the last out. Pappas even hints that the pitch was outside and therefore a 'ball'. Still, Froemming should have recognized the historic element and called it a 'strike'.
This is pure silliness and detracts from the achievement. I wouldn't want an umpire to hand me the perfect game. At the very least, I wouldn't openly and loudly expect to be given the perfect game.
I was excited to meet Pappas, despite this bit of ugliness. However, I was prepared to defend Froemming if he started complaining about the call. Several other people beat me to it. It seems nobody would have wanted Froemming to make a bad call just to preserve a perfect game. Pappas was polite, friendly and talkative, but he was steadfast in his belief.
Milt Pappas and me in Skokie, IL-mid 90's.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Pappas has no right to gripe, I agree. It does make for some good "folklore" though. Great minds do think alike (noting we both posted something about Pappas on 9-4).