Memories Of Buehrle's Perfect Game Still Resonate

On Thursday at 6 p.m., 670 The Score will re-air Mark Buehrle's magical game.

Bruce Levine
March 26, 2020 - 10:39 am

(670 The Score) With a fastball that topped out at 88 miles per hour, White Sox left-hander Mark Buehrle may not have been the logical candidate to throw a perfect game, but that's exactly what he did at then-named U.S. Cellular Field on July 23, 2009.

Starting Thursday at 6 p.m., 670 The Score will re-air its broadcast of Buehrle's magical day. Joe Ostrowski and Chris Tannehill -- the producers who worked the broadcast that afternoon -- will have a short lead-in and then host a postgame in which they share memories and take calls. Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson will be on the call.

I was covering that White Sox-Rays game for ESPN on that beautiful summer day. It was around the fifth inning when the press box got especially chatty about what was happening. I remember 670 The Score reporter David Schuster and I both began making calls to our bosses and other radio and wire service companies that we did work for, explaining what was going on. 

I was soon doing updates on national ESPN Radio from the end of the sixth inning forward. I was also hopping on with local ESPN Radio.

The Score was also making preparations on what turned out to be a historic day.

"Somebody came into my office and said Buehrle has a no-no in the sixth inning," Score program director Mitch Rosen recalled. "I did and do what I always do when a pitcher on our air has a no-hitter going. I texted Mark Zerang, the engineer, to make sure he had a wireless microphone ready for an on-field interview. I texted Bob Grim, the director of broadcasting for the White Sox, to get permission to go on the field and do that interview. I talked to Chris Rongey, who was our pregame and postgame host, about positioning himself for the Buehrle interview. Four or five people are in our office listening to the game on our air while watching TV with the sound turned down. We were doing what thousands of others were doing. We were listening to compelling radio with a guy getting close to throwing a perfect game. There is nothing better than that type of radio call for excitement."

As usual, Buehrle was working quickly, which was a hallmark trait of his. His perfect game would take 2 hours, 3 minutes on this afternoon.

"We were all big Mark Buehrle fans because his games, good or bad, were quick," Schuster said. "He was always accommodating and a really good interview."

By the time the ninth inning rolled around, the White Sox were in full control with a 5-0 lead. And that's when television play-by-play man and broadcasting legend Hawk Harrelson shared one of his most famous lines.

"Call your sons! Call your daughters! Call your friends! Call your neighbors! Mark Buehrle has a perfect game going into the ninth!" Harrelson yelled excitedly.

The game's iconic moment then came when the Rays' Gabe Kapler led off the ninth inning by hitting a rising line drive into the left-center field gap.

"He hit it good," Buehrle said while reminiscing 10 years later. "I thought it was a good pitch. I wasn't sure if he got it all."

White Sox center fielder Dewayne Wise, who had been inserted as a defensive replacement, followed with the play of the day. After climbing the wall to snag the drive, Wise secured the out by grabbing the ball with his bare hand after he juggled it while stumbling back to the ground.

"Once he caught it, I kind of think I was in shock," Buehrle remembered on the 10-year anniversary of the perfect game." I didn't see the bobble or the barehanded catch until we got to Detroit the next day. I saw the replay and said, 'Holy crap.' It went from an unbelievable catch to a more unbelievable catch."

Kapler was stunned.

"I think it was a sinker he threw me," Kapler said. "I thought I had a double at the very least. When I looked up and saw he caught it, I was shocked. My feeling after Buehrle got it was good for him and good for Wise. They will be forever remembered by Chicago fans for what they did that day. It was pretty cool."

In the television booth with Harrelson was color analyst Steve Stone, who recalled a funny anecdote.

"Mark was driving his teammates crazy," Stone remembered. "He kept saying to them, 'Do you believe I have a perfect game going?' They were all running away from him. That was him though -- he never got anxious or worried about jinxing his games."

And on the Score, Rongey was in the perfect position to get his on-field interview with Buehrle.

"Mitch was calling from the sixth inning on with preparations," who Rongey, who's now a radio host in St. Louis. "We always told him he was putting a jinx on the game. That's Mitch. He was always prepared for anything happening. Buehrle was great. He must have done 25 interviews that day. He was always a terrific guy to deal with."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine​.