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NOTEBOOK : Perfect Game Not New to Hassey

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In throwing a perfect game against the Dodgers Sunday, the Montreal Expos’ Dennis Martinez was blessed with the perfect catcher.

Of 15 perfect games in major league, Ron Hassey has caught two.

“But today Dennis did all the work, I was just back there catching him,” said Hassey, a 14-year veteran. “He wasn’t afraid to take chances, and I just went along with him.”

Other Expos said Hassey is being too modest. They said it is no coincidence that on May 15, 1981, Hassey caught Len Barker’s perfect game for the Cleveland Indians against Toronto.

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Hassey signed with the Expos this spring after serving as Bob Welch’s personal catcher for three years with the Oakland Athletics. Last season he helped Welch win a Cy Young Award.

“To have a veteran like that behind the plate, it’s always a big help,” shortstop Spike Owen said after the Expos’ 2-0 victory.

Hassey said catching Martinez was easier than catching the then-young Barker.

“This was a lot different than Lenny’s,” Hassey said. “Lenny was the type of pitcher who was a wild pitcher. Dennis is a pitcher’s pitcher.”

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Hassey and Martinez combined on two big, bold pitches that may have saved the perfect game.

With two out in the seventh inning and a full count on Eddie Murray, Martinez dared to throw a curveball. Murray jumped at it, grounding it to second base.

With one out in the eighth inning and a full count on Kal Daniels, Martinez threw another curveball. Daniels swung through it for a strikeout.

“The way I figure it, either you get the no-hitter or you don’t,” Hassey said. “You don’t do anything different, you don’t pitch any different. You go after them and see what happens.”

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Southern California teams have been involved in four of the last six perfect games. The Dodgers have been victimized by Dennis Martinez Sunday, and the Cincinnati Reds’ Tom Browning in 1988.

The Angels’ Mike Witt was perfect against Texas on Sept. 30, 1984, and Sandy Koufax was perfect for the Dodgers against the Chicago Cubs Sept. 9, 1965.

The best known perfect game involving the Dodgers was the perfect game in the 1956 World Series by the New York Yankees’ Don Larsen against the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Dennis Martinez’s beer shower by teammates after his perfect game was not the only such bath in Dodger Stadium. Plate umpire Larry Poncino, of San Clemente, was similarly splashed by umpires Bruce Froemming, Dana DeMuth and Greg Bonin for calling his first major league perfect game.

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Poncino said he had umpired one no-hitter in the minor leagues, pitched by Luis Tiant for Portland against Spokane in the Pacific Coast League in the early 1980s.

The last no-hit game pitched against the Dodgers at home came when they were in Brooklyn and has a special place in baseball history.

It was Johnny Vander Meer’s second consecutive no-hitter, a feat that has never been duplicated, and came June 15, 1938.

That also was the Dodgers’ first night game at home.

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Perfect Games

The list of perfect games of nine or more innings thrown in the history of major league baseball:

Date: July 28, 1991 Pitcher: Dennis Martinez Team: Montreal Expos Opponent: Dodgers Score: 2-0 Date: Sept. 16, 1988 Pitcher: Tom Browning Team: Cincinnati Reds Opponent: Dodgers Score: 1-0 Date: Sept. 30, 1984 Pitcher: Mike Witt Team: Angels Opponent: Texas Rangers Score: 1-0 Date: May 15, 1981 Pitcher: Len Barker Team: Cleveland Indians Opponent: Toronto Blue Jays Score: 3-0 Date: May 8, 1968 Pitcher: Catfish Hunter Team: Oakland Athletics Opponent: Minnesota Twins Score: 4-0 Date: Sept. 9, 1965 Pitcher: Sandy Koufax Team: Dodgers Opponent: Chicago Cubs Score: 1-0 Date: June 21, 1964 Pitcher: Jim Bunning Team: Philadelphia Phillies Opponent: New York Mets Score: 6-0 Date: May 26, 1959 Pitcher: Harvey Haddix-z Team: Pittsburgh Pirates Opponent: Milwaukee Braves Score: 0-1 Date: Oct. 8, 1956 Pitcher: Don Larsen-y Team: New York Yankees Opponent: Brooklyn Dodgers Score: 2-0 Date: April 30, 1922 Pitcher: Charles Robertson Team: Chicago White Sox Opponent: Detroit Tigers Score: 2-0 Date: June 23, 1917 Pitcher: Ernie Shore-x Team: Boston Red Sox Opponent: Washington Senators Score: 4-0 Date: Oct. 2, 1908 Pitcher: Addie Joss Team: Cleveland Indians Opponent: Chicago White Sox Score: 1-0 Date: May 5, 1904 Pitcher: Cy Young Team: Boston Red Sox Opponent: Philadelphia Athletics Score: 3-0 Date: June 17, 1880 Pitcher: John Ward Team: Providence Grays Opponent: Buffalo Bisons Score: 5-0 Date: June 12, 1880 Pitcher: John Richmond Team: Worcester* Opponent: Cleveland Spiders Score: 1-0 x--Entered the game after starter Babe Ruth walked Ray Morgan, and following an argument, was ejected by umpire Brick Owens. Morgan was caught stealing and Shore retired the remaining 26 batters.

y--World Series.

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z--Pitched 12 perfect innings, lost in 13th on an error, sacrifice bunt, walk and double.

*--No nickname.


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