On the surface, baseball may appear to be a simple sport, but in reality nothing could be more complicated. A man stands on a raised dirt platform and attempts to throw a rawhide sphere over a distance of sixty feet, six inches into an invisible quadrant measuring slightly more than three square feet past an opponent armed with a wooden club who has practiced the art of hitting flying projectiles for most of his life. All this under the scrutiny of an official who has been given the authority to make arbitrary and at times unjust decisions. Put in its proper perspective, the so-called "immaculate inning" is one of the most stupendous feats in all of sports.
Three pitches--Nine Strikes--Three Outs--One Inning
There are seventy four pitchers currently residing in the Hall of Fame. Of those men, only eleven have completed an immaculate inning. Details are as follows:
Rube Waddell of Philadelphia A's against Baltimore Orioles at Columbia Park in Philadelphia. July 1, 1902.
Third Inning. Catcher: Ossee Schreckengost. Batters: Billy Gilbert, Harry Howell and Jack Cronin. Final Score: A's 2 Orioles 0.
Dazzy Vance of Brooklyn Robins against Cincinnati Reds at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. September 14, 1924.
Second Inning. Catcher: Hank DeBerry. Umpire: Bob Hart. Batters: Sam Bohne, Bubbles Hargrave, Eppa Rixey. Final Score: Robins 2 Reds 0.
Lefty Grove of Philadelphia A's against Cleveland Indians at at Shibe Park in Philadelphia. August 23, 1928.
Second Inning. Catcher: Mickey Cochrane. Umpire: Dan Barry. Batters: Eddie Morgan, Luther Harvel and Chick Autry. Final Score: A's 3 Indians 1.
Lefty Grove of Philadelphia A's against Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park in Chicago. September 27, 1928.
Seventh Inning. Catcher: Mickey Cochrane. Umpire: Harry Geisel. Batters: Moe Berg, Tommy Thomas, Johnny Mostil. Final Score: A's 5 White Sox 3.
Robin Roberts of Philadelphia Phillies against Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. April 17, 1956.
Sixth Inning. Catcher: Andy Seminick. Umpire: Jocko Conlon. Batters: Carl Furillo, Charlie Neal, Sandy Amoros. Final Score: Phillies 8 Dodgers 6.
Jim Bunning of Detroit Tigers against Boston Red Sox at Briggs Stadium in Detroit. August 2, 1959.
Ninth Inning. Catcher: Red Wilson. Umpire: Nestor Chylak. Batters: Sammy White, Jim Mahoney, Ike DeLock. Final Score Red Sox 5 Tigers 4. (This was a one-inning relief appearance for Bunning)
Sandy Koufax of Los Angeles Dodgers against New York Mets at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. June 30, 1962.
First Inning. Catcher: John Roseboro. Umpire: Mel Steiner. Batters: Richie Ashburn, Rod Kanehl, Felix Mantilla. Final Score: Dodgers 5 Mets 0.
Sandy Koufax of Los Angeles Dodgers against Houston Colt .45s at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. April 19, 1963.
Fifth Inning. Catcher: John Roseboro. Umpire: Bill Jackowski. Batters: Bob Aspromonte, Jim Campbell, Turk Farrell. Final Score: Dodgers 2 Colt .45s 0.
Sandy Koufax of Los Angeles Dodgers against Cincinnati Reds at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. April 18, 1964.
Third Inning. Catcher: John Roseboro. Umpire: Al Barlick. Batters: Leo Cardenas, Johnny Edwards, Jim Maloney. Final Score: Reds 3 Dodgers 0.
Nolan Ryan of New York Mets against Los Angeles Dodgers at Shea Stadium in New York. April 19, 1968.
Third Inning. Catcher: Jerry Grote. Umpire: Tom Gorman. Batters: Claude Osteen, Wes Parkeer, Zoilo Versalles. Final Score: Dodgers 3 Mets 2.
Bob Gibson of St. Louis Cardinals againsst Los Angeles Dodgers at Busch Stadium in St Louis. May 12, 1969.
Seventh Inning. Catcher: Joe Torre. Umpire: Al Barlick. Batters: Len Gabrielson, Paul Popovich, John Miller. Final Score: Cardinals 6 Dodgers 2.
Nolan Ryan of California Angels against Red Sox at Anaheim Stadium in Anaheim. July 9, 1972.
Second Inning. Catcher: John Stephenson. Umpire: John Rice. Batters: Carlton Fisk, Bob Burda, Juan Beniquez. Final Score: Angels 3 Red Sox 0.
Bruce Sutter of Chicago Cubs against Montreal Expos at Wrigley Field in Chicago. September 8, 1977.
Ninth Inning. Catcher: Steve Swisher. Umpire: Terry Tata. Batters: Ellis Valentine, Gary Carter, Larry Parrish. final Score: Cubs 3 Expos 2.
Randy Johnson of Houston Astros against Atlanta Braves at Turner Field in Atlanta. September 2, 1998.
Sixth Inning. Catcher: Brad Ausmus. Umpire: Gary Darling. Batters: Javy Lopez, Andruw Jones, Greg Colbrunn. Final Score: Astros 4 Braves 2.
Randy Johnson of Arizona Diamondbacks against Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. August 23, 2001.
Sixth Inning. Catcher: Damian Miller. Umpire: Mike Fichter. Batters: Tony McKnight, Gary Matthews, Jack Wilson. Final Score: Pirates 5 Diamondbacks 1.
Pedro Martinez of Boston Red Sox against Seattle Marineers at Fenway Park in Boston. May 18, 2002.
First Inning. Catcher: Jason Varitek. Umpire: Jerry Meals. Batters: Ichiro Suzuki, Mark McLemore, Ruben Sierra. Final Score: Red Sox 4 Mariners 1.
In examining the data, I believe that Randy Johnson's immaculate inning against the Braves in 1998 is the most impressive. With all the chanting and tomahawk chopping, Atlanta's Turner Field was a tough place for opposing pitchers during that time. Lopez and Jones were imminent power threats with 65 homers between them that year. Colbrunn was no slouch with a bat either, entering the game with a .307 average. Johnson had already thrown more than 200 innings at that point in the season and the Braves were making their third pass through the lineup against him. At least he had the benefit of Gary Darling's notoriously wide strike zone.