Ace of the diamond 

December, 1, 2010
12/01/10
12:18
PM ET

Perfection is multifaceted. Like a perfect diamond, a perfect game glints at various angles, inviting us to appreciate its beauty from any number of vantage points: the stories of players involved, historical context, statistical achievement. But no matter how you look at the collection of gems in which opponents have gone 27 up, 27 down -- and there have been only 20 in 142 years of professional baseball -- one jewel stands apart: On Sept. 9, 1965, Dodgers lefthander Sandy Koufax pitched history's most perfect perfect game.

With so little to separate the greatest pitching performances in history, how do we decide which was the most perfect of all? How do we choose the most sparkling from among 20 games of No: no hits, no walks, no hit batsmen, no errors?

Do we look for dominance? Well, Koufax struck out 14 batters, the most in a perfect game. He mowed through a Cubs lineup that featured all-time greats Ernie Banks, Ron Santo and Billy Williams.

Peter Keating is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, where he covers investigative and statistical subjects. He started writing "The Biz," a column looking at sports business from the fan's point of view, in 1999. He also coordinates the Magazine's annual "Ultimate Standings" project, which ranks all pro franchises according to how much they give back to fans. His work on concussions in football has earned awards from the Deadline Club, the New York Press Club and the Center for the Study of Sport in Society.

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