Kenny Rogers’ Perfect Game

This perfect game, the first by a left-hander in A.L. history,  happened just a couple weeks before the 1994-1995 strike began. On July 28, 1994, the AP reported:

Rogers pitched the 12th perfect game in modern major league history tonight, saved by center fielder Rusty Greer’s diving catch in the ninth inning in the Texas Rangers’ 4-0 victory over the California Angels.

Offensively for Texas, Jose Canseco hit two home runs. He and Ivan Rodriguez hit consecutive shots in the third.

Rogers said he did not think about a perfect game until the last inning. As soon as he did, it almost ended. Rex Hudler led off the ninth with a slicing liner to right-center. Greer, a rookie, ran over and in, left his feet and was nearly horizontal when he made a backhanded grab.

“I never thought he was going to get it,” Rogers said. “I thought that ball was going to drop, no matter what. Then, I thought the ball was going to pop out.”

“I was going to give it my best effort whether I caught it or not,” Greer said.

“I never thought about a perfect game,” said the 29-year-old Rogers. “I was thinking about the no-hitter until the last out. I just threw strikes. I got ahead of a lot of hitters and that helped a lot.

“Rusty Greer, gosh, what can you say after a guy makes a catch like that?

“When Rusty did that, I thought, ‘Somebody wants me to do this,'” Rogers said. “I never thought he could catch that ball. He went at it like there was a no-hitter on the line.”

“In a situation like that, you want to be the guy to break up the no-no,” Hudler said. “But I tip my hat to the guy. When he got three balls (in the count), you could read his body language. He was saying, ‘Hey, swing the bat, because I’m not going to walk you.'”

“I really didn’t expect to go nine innings,” Rogers said, “much less get this type of ball game. I never expected a no-hitter. I don’t think any pitcher goes out there thinking, ‘I’ve got no-hitter stuff.’ To be honest, I really didn’t think I did.

“It’ll hit me in a couple of days just what’s happened. It’s something I can always look back on. I’m one of those guys now. It’s a great feeling.

Rogers used 98 pitches and struck out eight, four swinging and four looking. He went to a three-ball count seven times, including on four straight batters starting with two out in the sixth.

Rogers got a standing ovation from the crowd of 46,581 at The Ballpark when he took the mound to start the ninth. After Hudler’s catch, Rogers got the last two outs without much trouble, retiring Chris Turner on a grounder to shortstop and Gary DiSarcina on a routine fly to Greer.

Rogers, who became a full-time starter only last year, pitched his second shutout and sixth complete game of the season. He had been nursing a sore shoulder since hurting it while throwing a curve July 9 against Detroit. He pitched with an extra day of rest against the Angels.

There’s a shaky handheld video, with weak audio, of a replay of the last three outs of Rogers’ perfect game on YouTube. Also, Bill Mazeroski’s Baseball Preview for 1995 looked back on this game, and explained that “during this particular game Jose Canseco was wearing a new pair of cleats. Gary Redus and  Chris James decided that they would put Canseco’s old raggy ones to good use. They soaked them in alcohol and lit them up during the fifth inning. Will Clark looked into the dugout from first base and wondered what was happening. The whole Texas dugout was rolling. Except Rogers. Clark was laughing so hard that ‘I couldn’t see,’ he said later on. After throwing his perfect game, he [Rogers] was informed of the sacrifice of the shoes and said, ‘Well burn the rest of Jose’s shoes if that’s what it takes.'”


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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I found your story today about Kenney’s perfect game. I purchased Jose’s cleats after this game at a charity. The story I have been telling is different then yours. I was told that all season the guys were giving him raze as his toes were wearing throw. Jose stated these were his good luck cleats, but finally said he would wear new clients if he could keep his good luck ones on the bench. The burning took place when he was on first base, when he couldn’t do anything about it. I would appriciate your input to this. How did you come by the story? In either case Boys will be Boys! Thanks..

  2. I don’t have much to add on the cleats story. It’s just what I found in that Bill Mazeroski’s Baseball Preview issue. Seems like the story you have is probably the correct one, but I can’t say either way.

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