Dallas Braden can now join the pantheon of David Wells and Dock Ellis — pitchers who had their best games while their heads weren’t exactly right.
Braden, whose Mother’s Day perfect game is approaching its 10-year anniversary on Friday, admitted to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser that he was hungover when he set down 27 Tampa Bay Rays in a row back in 2010.
There are only 23 perfect games in MLB history, and now Braden, like Wells, has admitted to throwing his with a hangover. Ellis’ trip was altogether different. He says he threw his 1970 no-hitter after using LSD.
As for Braden? Well, there were some additional circumstances at play. Mother’s Day is hard for him because his mom died from cancer when he was a teenager, so he explained to The Chronicle that his pre-Mother’s Day night out was more about hiding that pain than anything related to baseball. It just so happened he was pitching the next day.
"There are things you don't do," he told Slusser. "Partaking in libations or adult beverages, that was something I never did before a day game. The night before Mother's Day, though, I did. We were getting after it a little bit.
"Until that day, I had never treated a start or the day before a start the way I did that day," Braden said. "It's not like I was telling myself, 'Let's get crushed and tomorrow will be awesome.' It was more like, 'Let's just forget about tomorrow.'"
Only, that tomorrow became the biggest day of his career. Braden — who now works as an MLB analyst for NBC Sports Bay Area and Barstool Sports — struck out six and threw 109 pitches en route to 27 straight outs, shutting down a Rays team that was the best in MLB at the time.
Curt Young, the A’s pitching coach at the time, told The Chronicle had no idea that Braden was hungover. But Braden said he showed up late to the ballpark. In fact, his own grandmother beat him to the ballpark that day. She had arrived at his house, Braden said, to check on his dogs and found her grandson still in bed from the night before.
It may sound like the goofy plot to a baseball movie — but in actuality, this is also a reality for people who deal with grief on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, whether they’re professional baseball players or everyday folks.
Braden’s perfect game was a feel-good story at the time, as his grandmother watched from the crowd. What we’ve learned 10 years later doesn’t change that. It just gives you more context to that day. Braden was carrying even more baggage than we knew about and still accomplished something only a very small number of pitchers have done in MLB history.
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