Harvard Baseball's Brush with Perfection

Published by Andrew R. Mooney on April 23, 2012 at 3:12AM

On Saturday, unheralded Chicago White Sox lefthander Philip Humber recorded the 21st perfect game in MLB history, retiring 27 Seattle Mariners batters in order en route to a 4-0 victory. 11 years ago, a Harvard pitcher had a similar brush with history, facing the minimum 27 batters—but he did not quite achieve perfection.

Ben Crockett, perhaps Harvard’s best pitcher of the last 25 years, toed the rubber for the Crimson in an April matchup against Dartmouth with fiery stuff waiting to be unleashed from his right arm.

One after another, members of the Big Green were mowed down. Over half of them—14, to be exact—struck out, helpless before Crockett’s onslaught, which ended in a 10-0 Harvard victory.

Yet, despite facing only 27 batters and allowing no hits, Crockett did not record a perfect game. Center fielder Bryan Hale committed an error in the second inning, marring Crockett’s bid for one of baseball’s most uncommon achievements.

Still, after recording the final out, Crockett had pitched a no-hitter. Perhaps more impressive was Crockett’s efficiency in completing the feat; in addition to his 14 strikeouts, he allowed no walks and threw just 85 pitches.

But the postgame celebration of Crockett’s accomplishment was muted. With a loss in the first game of the day’s doubleheader, the Crimson was eliminated from contention for the Ivy League championship.

"This is the worst feeling in the world," Harvard coach Joe Walsh told the Crimson after the game.

Crockett went on to earn Second-Team All-American honors the following season, posting a 6-4 record and 108 strikeouts. Crockett then played five seasons in the minor leagues, but he never made it to the majors.