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On This Date in Sports May 26, 1959: Perfection is not Enough

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

Harvey Haddix of the Pittsburgh Pirates suffers the cruelest loss in the history of baseball. As he does not allow a base runner for the first 12 innings against the Milwaukee Braves at County Stadium. However, the Pirates are unable to score, despite 12 hits against Lew Burdett. In the 13th inning, the Perfect Game ends on an error, as Felix Mantilla later scores on the Braves lone hit to win the game 1-0.

Harvey Haddix was born on September 18, 1925, in Medway, Ohio. Haddix made his debut with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1952 pitching at the end of the season. In his first full season, Haddix won 20 games and finished second in Rookie of the Year voting. He would pitch in three All-Star Games but never again won 20 games. In 1956 Harvey Haddix was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies. After two mediocre seasons in Philadelphia, Haddix spent a season with the Cincinnati Redlegs before landing with the Pirates in 1959.

Through the first six weeks of the season, the Pirates had a record of 21-19 under Manager Danny Murtaugh, while the Milwaukee Braves after two straight pennants were atop the National League at with manager Fred Haney at 23-14. On Tuesday Night Milwaukee, Lew Burdett toed the mound for the Braves at 7-2, while Harvey Haddix at 4-2 in his first year with the Pirates was on the mound for Pittsburgh.

Both pitchers were sharp early, as they each retired the first three hitters. In the second inning, the Pirates got a leadoff hit from Rocky Nelson, who was quickly erased on a double play grounder off the bat of Bob Skinner. The Pirates would load the bases in third but failed to score as Burdett dodged trouble all game. Haddix meanwhile was in complete command as he had two strikeouts while setting down the first nine batters. On his second trip through the Braves lineup, Haddix had just one strikeout but again did not allow a base runner, while the Pirates were unable to capitalize on hist in the fourth and fifth.

Through six innings, Harvey Haddix was perfect but had no runs to work with. Through seven and eight innings he continued to mow down the Braves. In the ninth inning, Pittsburgh got hits from Bill Virdon and Rocky Nelson but failed to score again. Meanwhile, Harvey Haddix struck out Andy Pafko, got a flyout from Johnny Logan before striking out Lew Burdett to make it through nine perfect innings.

In the tenth inning, Don Hoak got on base but went nowhere, as Lew Burdett continued to pitch around trouble for Milwaukee. Haddix extended his Perfect Game through ten innings, on flyballs by Del Rice and Eddie Matthews while Hank Aaron grounded out. Burdett was helped by a double play in the 11th. Harvey Haddix stayed perfect as he set down Joe Adcock, Wes Covington, and Del Crandall. After failing to score again, Haddix completed his fourth perfect trip through the Braves lineup, retiring Pafko, Logan, and Burdett, with 12 strikeouts.

In the 13th inning, Lew Burdett allowed his 12th hit but kept his shutout intact. Felix Mantilla making his first at-bat after entering the game in the 11th inning hit a ground ball to Don Hoak at third. However, the Pirates third baseman threw the ball away, ending Haddix quest for perfection. Eddie Matthews followed with a sac bunt sending Matilla to second with the winning run. Despite not allowing a hit, and going 12 innings of perfect baseball, Danny Murtaugh called for an intentional walk to Hank Aaron. Up stepped Joe Adcock who hit the ball over the right-field stands to win the game for the Braves. However, in a game in which Harvey Haddix went 12 innings without a baserunner, it was not as simple as a walk-off home run, as Adcock passed Aaron at second base. Aaron was ruled out, while Adcock’s run counted. Upon review by the National League, he was given a double as his run did not count. Though the Braves had a 1-0 win, while Harvey Haddix was the losing pitcher despite through a 12-inning Perfect Game.