Every time I go out to watch a baseball or softball game, there's a small creature in the back of my mind that utters a soft whisper that only I can hear. "Today may be the day," the little bugger says.
Today may be the day when I get to witness a perfect game being thrown. It haunts me because I really, really want to see it in person.
As I sit here in the office thinking about it, I can feel the adrenaline flowing through me. At times it owns me. It has gone away for years, but it always, always comes back to say hello.
The want has turned to need, and because of that, I have my doubts whether I'll ever witness one. I just don't think that I'll ever get to see in person what I consider the greatest achievement in sports; so great an achievement, Kevin Costner made a movie about it.
It has become such a need that if the afterlife was about reincarnation, I would come back to this earth as someone who hated the games of baseball and softball, as they would bore me to tears. In this vision, I see myself being dragged to one of these games and the remarkable would occur. A perfect game would be thrown. And I would hate it. "By George, that was one of the most boring times of my life," I would say.
The perfect game is so ingrained into my thought process that I can remember playing in the backyard with my brother in one of the many leagues we had created amongst ourselves as kids.
We used six players from major league rosters. One of the rules was that you had to alternate between batting right-handed and left-handed.
It was a bright, sunny morning in Kingman that day. I was the Tigers, and Dave Roberts was who I was on the mound.
Because we had to have a two-man rotation, Mark "The Bird" Fidrych had the day off. My Dave Roberts threw the perfect game. Only my brother knew this, and he's probably forgotten about it by now. Though, maybe he remembers, as it happened only 33 years ago.
I came close to seeing one on April 20, 1990. In fact, I was only one out away from watching Brian Holman of the Seattle Mariners throw a perfect game against the Oakland A's. I was an A's fan, but, by God, I wanted Holman to finish the task. I didn't tell that to my buddy as we sat in the front row of the bleachers in left-center. You can't sit there anymore now that Al Davis has ruined the stadium.
When Tony LaRussa sent Ken Phelps up to pinch-hit, I smiled. I had it, you see. I was going to witness the perfect game.
Phelps lifted a shot into right-center. I watched as the Mariners' right and center fielders ran toward the wall to make the catch. Phelps' shot landed 380-feet away from home plate. My issue with that was that the fence at that spot was 375 feet away. No perfect game. No no-hitter.
A few months later, on July 29 to be precise, I was at Candlestick Park watching the San Francisco Giants host the Cincinnati Reds. There never was a threat of a perfect game. But Scott Garrelts was one out away from a no-hitter. Paul O'Neill of the Reds stepped up and promptly delivered a line-drive single to center.
Never mind the perfect game, couldn't I have at least gotten a no-hitter? I'm getting so mad right now, I'm dizzy.
My hope is to see the perfect game happen here on the diamonds of Kingman. Kingman has a few possibilities for me.
I think Jake Negrette has a chance for the Bulldogs' baseball team. Keep them low, Jake, and let your infield record the 21 consecutive outs needed. You'd make me giddy, that's for sure.
And hearing that KAOL's freshman Tiffany Molloy struck out eight in her first varsity outing has me frothing at the mouth. Maybe not this year, but I can't wait until she's a senior with all that experience behind her.
My third hopeful is the one I'm rooting for. The workhorse for the Kingman High girls softball team, Tylee Rickett, is the one I would love see do it. I may be wrong, but I don't think she gets frazzled.
I saw her throw warmup pitches that landed 10 feet in front of the catcher. The first batter stepped up and Rickett struck her out.
Rickett definitely has what it takes. And if she gives me the pleasure of witnessing her getting every hitter she faces out, I know exactly what that little creature will say.