On Thursday, Major League Baseball presented “Opening Day at Home,” a full slate of 30 games broadcast nationally across various platforms including networks, digital streaming and social media, creating a full-day event on what would have been Opening Day. The experience was intended to invite fans to feel a sense
On Thursday, Major League Baseball presented “Opening Day at Home,” a full slate of 30 games broadcast nationally across various platforms including networks, digital streaming and social media, creating a full-day event on what would have been Opening Day. The experience was intended to invite fans to feel a sense of community and unity on a day many were looking forward to while underscoring the importance of staying home to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Using the hashtag #OpeningDayAtHome, fans could connect with each other while watching their team’s selected game at a set time. The Mariners took part with the airing of Félix Hernández's perfect game against the Rays from Aug. 15, 2012.
“Opening Day at Home” also served as an opportunity for MLB to raise awareness for several worthy charities that are helping provide relief to the most vulnerable communities impacted by the pandemic. Last week, MLB and the MLBPA made a $1 million joint donation to Feeding America and Meals on Wheels, in addition to a $30 million commitment made by MLB clubs to emergency relief for ballpark employees. If so willing and able, fans can contribute toward these charities, MLB's official charity Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and additional causes at MLB.com/give.
Hernández's gem was the 23rd in MLB history, but the first by a Mariner. It was the third perfecto thrown in the Majors during that 2012 season -- Philip Humber of the White Sox slammed the door on Seattle four months earlier and Matt Cain of the Giants was perfect against the Astros that June -- but no one has thrown another in the seven years since Hernández dominated the Rays on that mid-August day.
Hernández was in his prime on that sunny Wednesday afternoon in Seattle, striking out 12 in a 1-0 victory at then-Safeco Field with a fastball touching 96 mph and his nasty changeup leaving the Rays swinging at air.
The King needed 113 pitches to get his 27 consecutive outs, striking out Sean Rodriguez with a 92 mph sinking changeup for the final out and setting off a wild celebration that included Hernández kissing the tattoos of his children on his wrists and then striking a pose -- with both arms extended to the sky and one leg lifted off the ground -- that soon became known as “Félixing.”
Hernández loved pitching in front of his King’s Court and hometown fans throughout his 15-year run in Seattle and was thrilled to deliver a memory no one present will ever forget.
“I don't have any words to explain this," Hernández said to the crowd after the final out. "I've been working so hard to throw one, and today is for you guys."
He remained emotional long after he had finished celebrating with catcher John Jaso and the rest of his young teammates, out of which only one -- third baseman Kyle Seager -- still remains with the Mariners now that Hernández has signed with the Braves for the 2020 season.
“I think they deserve it,” Hernández said in a clubhouse that was equal parts happy and relieved to have withstood the pressure that comes with pulling off perfection. “And I deserve it, too. It’s unbelievable.”
While Hernández endured a number of games in his Mariners career when lack of run support cost him victories, his club provided just enough help in this one as Jesús Montero drove in the game’s lone run with a single to left in the third inning to score Brendan Ryan.
The Mariners managed just five hits of their own, but Ryan singled, stole second with two outs and then advanced to third on a wild pitch by Jeremy Hellickson before Montero’s RBI base hit.
The rest, as they say, was history.
This week, MLB unlocked its expansive vault and is offering fans special access to the most unforgettable moments. MLB has made the entire 2018 and 2019 game archives free to all fans through MLB.TV. Fans can also access more than 200 full classic MLB games on YouTube, including timeless World Series games, memorable postseason matchups, no-hitters and perfect games.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.