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On This Date in Sports July 28, 1994: Kenny Rogers is Perfect

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

In the last great moment of an abbreviated season, Kenny Rogers of the Texas Rangers a perfect game in a 4-0 win over California in Arlington. It was a quick clean effort for Rogers who had eight strikeouts and threw 98 pitches. The biggest play was by Rusty Greer who made a diving catch on a ball hit by Rex Hudler to center to lead off the ninth.

Kenny Rogers was born November 10, 1964, in Savannah, Georgia and was raided on the Florida Gulf Coast. After playing baseball at Pant City High School, Rogers was drafted in the 39th round by the Texas Rangers in the 1982 draft. It would take seven years for the lefthanded pitcher to make the majors. However, he finally made the team out of Spring Training at the start of the 1989 season. Rogers began his career as a reliever, saving 15 games in 1991.

After appearing in a league-leading 81 games in 1992, Kenny Rogers was converted to a starting pitcher by manager Kevin Kennedy in 1993. He had decent returns in his first year as a starter, posting a record of 16-10, with an ERA of 4.01. As he prepared for a start in late July in 1994, Kenny Rogers had a record of 10-6. The Rangers in their first season at the Ballpark in Arlington were in first place, despite a less than desirable record of 48-53 as realignment into three division opened the door to Texas winning their first division title, despite being below .500.

The Rangers were facing the California Angels on a Thursday Night. The Angels were 42-60 entering the game under manager Marcel Lachemann. Opposing Kenny Rogers on the mound that night was Andrew Lorraine, who had made his major league debut just ten days earlier. Rogers started the game strong, striking out Chad Curtis and Jim Edmonds in the first inning. Texas meanwhile managed to score a pair of runs in the first inning, as Jose Canseco hit a two-out home run. Lorraine was shaken and walked Will Clark, and two straight hits, as Dean Palmer had an RBI single. Rogers continued to mow down the Angels, as he had a strikeout in the second and third. The Rangers would get two more runs in the third on back-to-back home runs by Ivan Rodriguez and Canseco. Lorraine would settle down the rest of the way as it would be the last time Texas scored in the game.

The 4-0 lead was more than enough for Kenny Rogers who worked through the Angels lineup for ease as he threw just 98 pitches while striking out eight. This included Bo Jackson, who had three strikeouts in what would be one of the final games of his truncated career. After the game Rogers claimed that he was so locked in, he did not realize he had a Perfect Game until the ninth inning, when Rusty Greer made a spectacular diving catch in centerfield, robbing Rex Hudler to start the ninth inning. Chris Turner made the second out with a grounder to second, while Gary Disarcina flew out to Greer to end the game.

The Perfect Game was 14th in MLB history, coming three years to the date of the last Perfect Game thrown by Dennis Martinez of the Montreal Expos. Also of note, in 1984 Mike Witt of the Angels had a Perfect Game against the Rangers on the last day of the season. The Angels and Rangers are the only teams to have thrown a perfect game against each other. The Perfect Game would come just two weeks before the 1994 season came to an end, as the Players went on strike August 12th, leading to the playoffs and World Series being canceled. Rogers would struggle in his final two starts before the strike, losing both before getting a chance to meet his namesake the famous County Singer.