In his book on the old White Sox, Bob Vanderberg talked with Billy Pierce about this, “his greatest game. On a June evening in 1958 he retired the first 24 Washington batters as the Sox built a 3-0 lead after eight innings against Russ Kemmerer. The game moved to the ninth. Pierce retired Ken Aspromonte and then Steve Korcheck. One more and it would have been a perfect game. Washington manager Cookie Lavagetto, who had broken up Floyd Bevens’ no-hit bid in the ninth inning of the fourth game of the 1947 World Series, sent up Ed FitzGerald to bat for Kemmerer. Pierce remembered the rest all too well.
“FitzGerald was a first-ball, fastball hitter. So we threw him a curveball away. And he hit it down the rightfield line for a hit. It was hit well: it was a good hit.”
Billy retired Albie Pearson moments later to get the shutout victory but the smallish crowd of 11,300 was still screaming its hatred for FitzGerald, who had wrecked the fans’ dream of seeing a perfect game. Pierce, however, held no animosity.
“I didn’t feel that badly about it-really not that badly. We were in a little slump and I was just happy to win the ballgame. It didn’t mean that much-at the moment. In later years, I wished probably that it had happened. It would’ve been nice if it had happened.
“But if you’re in the game for 17 years like I was, you have a lot of things to look back on. You don’t need that one thing-l can live without it.”