This story appears in the Dec. 14 issue of ESPN The Magazine.
White Sox lefty Mark Buehrle one-upped his 2007 no-hitter by throwing the 18th perfect game in mlb history, a 5-0 gem against the Rays. defensive replacement DeWayne Wise explains how his over-the-wall grab in the ninth inning saved the game from being just your average getaway day matinee.
It was a 2-2 changeup, and Kapler was a little bit ahead of it. When he hit it, I put my head down and said, 'Oh, s---.' When Wise caught it, I said, 'Oh, my God.'
”-- White Sox catcher Ramón Castro
"In the seventh inning, I came into the clubhouse to get something to drink. That's when I heard on the radio, 'Nineteen up and 19 down.' I was like, 'What?' I went outside, looked at the scoreboard and saw nothing but zeroes. So I went into the weight room, did a little light lifting and stretching to wake my body up.
"Ozzie Guillén wasn't sure he wanted me to go in, what with me being cold after sitting on the bench all day. They had a guy throwing a perfect game, and they're going to put a new guy in the outfield? Bench coach Joey Cora persuaded Ozzie to put me in center in the ninth so we could shift Scott Podsednik to left and tighten up our defense. Gabe Kapler was up with one out, and we had everybody shaded to his pull side just a little bit. I was playing kind of shallow because I didn't want to give up that broken-bat bloop that drops just behind short or second for a base hit. You want them to earn it.
Right after the game, I told Mark's wife, Jamie, 'Whenever I think he can't do something, he always does it.' It's amazing. In the coaches' room, everybody was in tears.
”-- White Sox manager Ozzie Guillén
"Right when the ball was hit, I was in a dead sprint. Our video guys said I took 19 strides. Probably at the 11th step is when I looked back up. You take your eyes off the ball and run to a spot because you cover more ground that way. I felt the warning track and knew I'd be able to take two good steps and then time my jump. I hit the wall with my right shoulder, the one I'd separated earlier in the year. Didn't care. If I had to flip over the wall to make the catch, I was going to do it. I knew the ball hit my glove -- an old, flabby, black Rawlings 4JB model I've had for about five years. It's 12 3/4 inches, which is considered small for an outfielder's glove. I didn't know if the ball stayed in there, and then I saw it coming out. I stuck my left hand out and caught it in my bare hand as I hit the turf.
"When the game was over, Buehrle hugged me and said, 'Thank you.' He's asked a couple of times what I want, but I'm not asking for anything. I told him, 'We'll be forever linked. Whenever they talk about your perfect game, they're going to talk about that catch.' We'll both be 60 years old, sitting in our rocking chairs, and they'll still be talking about it."