CHICAGO -- The first unofficial rule of broadcasting a perfect game is not to acknowledge it until absolutely necessary.
So when Ken "Hawk" Harrelson put forth his favorite career call at the end of the top of the eighth inning during Mark Buehrle’s perfect game thrown against the Rays on July 23, 2009, he understood that there might be a few complaints.
“Call your sons. Call your daughters. Call your friends. Call your neighbors,” said Harrelson after Pat Burrell lined out to third baseman Gordon Beckham for the 24th straight batter retired. “Mark Buehrle has a perfect game going into the ninth.”
Buehrle completed that perfect game in a smooth 2 hours, 3 minutes, marking his second career no-hitter. Harrelson’s excitement at the end of the eighth did not jinx history.
In fact, Harrelson’s emphatic alert to White Sox fans still gets brought up to the 2020 Ford C. Frick Award winner 11 years later.
“I knew I was going to catch hell for it, because you are not supposed to do that,” Harrelson told MLB.com. “You are jinxing it.
“To this day, and not as many as I used to, I still occasionally get a letter saying, 'Thank you so much, because I did indeed call my [child] and they had an opportunity to see it.' And you know what a special guy Mark was.”
Buehrle’s perfection would not have been possible without Dewayne Wise’s spectacular catch of Gabe Kapler’s long drive to left-center opening the Rays’ ninth inning. Manager Ozzie Guillen inserted Wise as a defensive replacement in the ninth, with Scott Podsednik moving from center field to left.
Wise made that catch on a full sprint, leaping over the wall to grab the Kapler blast and then hanging on as he juggled it upon hitting the ground. His amazing effort produced another memorable Harrelson call.
“That ball hit deep into left-center field. Wise back, back. Makes the catch! Dewayne Wise makes the catch!” Harrelson said. “What a play by Wise! Mercy! A great catch by Dewayne Wise!”
“It’s kind of funny, because I didn’t even know he had a perfect game going on,” said Wise during a recent interview. “I always stay loose, just being the fourth outfielder, backup guy. But that particular day, I was taking it easy and I happened to go into the clubhouse to get something to drink and I heard, ‘19 up and 19 down.’ I came out and looked at the scoreboard and thought, ‘I better start getting loose just in case.’”
Some friends and baseball teammates of Wise’s 14-year-old son, Jamari, still will bring up that play and even show the elder Wise video of the play. What Harrelson remembers is looking at how shallow Wise was playing before the Kapler connection and thinking Wise had little chance at making that catch.
“Under the circumstances, that’s the greatest catch I’ve ever seen,” Harrelson said.
Harrelson also remembers his emotional reaction after Wise emerged with the baseball.
“When he did that, I started crying,” Harrelson said. “Every game has its own personality, and I called my wife after the seventh inning and I said during the break there, ‘Honey, Mark has a perfect game going and I think he’s going to get it.’
“Sure enough, he got it. But again, it’s just who the guy is. It’s who he is as a person.”
After Buehrle struck out Michel Hernandez on a 3-2 changeup, the second perfect game in White Sox history concluded on a Jason Bartlett grounder to shortstop Alexei Ramirez. Harrelson finished with the most memorable call of his career, again enhanced by his deep respect for the left-hander.
“Alexei? Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!” Harrelson said. “History!”
“Guys like Buehrle, guys like the Big Hurt [Frank Thomas], Robin Ventura, guys like that. [Magglio] Ordonez. I love Maggs,” said Harrelson. “I love those guys like sons. Mark Buehrle, when you talk about great people, great teammates, you can start with Frank Howard and you can start with Mark Buehrle.”