Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Baseball Perfection and Book Utopia



"Perfect" depends on your definition. In baseball, perfection can occur in several forms. A "perfect game" is one in which a pitcher does not allow a baserunner for any reason (hit, walk, error, etc.) for nine innings. I have seen and written about no-hitters, but never a perfect game. A "perfect inning" can be defined one of two ways. It can be one in which the three outs are recorded on three pitches. I have never chanced on one of those, either. Or it can be an inning in which the pitcher strikes out the side on nine pitches. Last night, Felix "King Felix" Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners performed the rare deed on the Marlins.


The feat has been accomplished only 42 times in big-league history, with the achievement belonging first to John Clarkson of the 1889 Boston Beaneaters (now the Atlanta Braves). Clarkson is an unfamiliar name to even the most knowledgeable fans, largely due to the fact he played in baseball's first century. But Clarkson was one of the best pitchers of his era; one of the 23 300-game winners and a member of the Hall of Fame. Alas, Clarkson's life didn't turn out so wonderfully. He ran a cigar store following his retirement from baseball, suffered a breakdown, and was committed to an insane asylum, where he died in 1909.
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This is my last day in Seattle. Tomorrow is an "off day" (meaning no game) before heading down the coast to Oakland where the Marlins resume play Friday against the A's. Each of us in our small band of writers plans to spend our free time a little differently. J.R. intends to rent a Harley and tour the countryside around Seattle; J.C. is going sight-seeing with his girlfriend, perhaps to Mount Ranier. I'm driving down to Portland to check out Powell's, the largest used bookstore in the country, before flying out later the same day to San Francisco. The main Powell's store (http://www.powells.com/info/places/burnsideinfo.html) in downtown Portland takes up a city block. I'll report back on the experience. In the meantime, this video provides a brief look at what's in store at the store: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5fiWb6etvk


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