SEATTLE - Phil Humber had Tommy John surgery before his career even started. He bounced around a bit as he tried to make it in the major leagues.
Now, well, Humber is just perfect.
Humber threw the first perfect game in the majors in almost two years, leading the Chicago White Sox to a 4-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.
"What just took place was just awesome," Humber said.
It was baseball's 21st perfect game and first since Philadelphia's Roy Halladay threw one against the Florida Marlins on May 29, 2010. It was the third in White Sox's history, joining Mark Buehrle against Tampa Bay on July 23, 2009, and Charles Robertson against Detroit on April 30, 1922.
Before Saturday, Humber was best known as one of four prospects the Mets traded to Minnesota for two-time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana in February 2008. That's no longer the case - not after tossing the majors' first no-hitter of the season and the second April perfect game in major league history.
"I don't even know what to say," Humber said. "I don't know what Philip Humber is doing in this list. No idea what my name is doing there, but I'm thankful it's there."
He was drafted No. 3 overall by the New York Mets in 2004, one pick after Justin Verlander went to the Detroit Tigers. But Humber was sidelined by elbow-ligament replacement surgery the following year and didn't win a game in the majors until 2010 with Kansas City.
With the White Sox lined up on the top step of the dugout, Humber fell behind 3-0 to Michael Saunders leading off the ninth. But he rebounded to strike him out. John Jaso then flied out before Brendan Ryan, another pinch hitter, struck out to end the game.
Ryan took a checked swing and missed at a full-count pitch that was outside and low, but the ball got away from Pierzynski. Ryan lingered outside the batter's box for a minute, unsure of umpire Brian Runge's call, and Pierzynski fired to first to complete the play.
"I was more nervous than I was in the World Series," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "There was no build up for this, it just happened. And you want it so bad for the guy on the mound and you want him to have that achievement forever and you want to have him remembered forever. It's a special thing that Phil did."
"I saw it get away from A.J. and saw the umpire ring him up and at that point, a ton of emotions and a lot of joy and excitement," Humber said. "Most of all, just gratitude. Just thankful for where I'm at."
Humber's wife, Kristan, is nine months' pregnant and due May 8. He called her after the game.
"Humber pitched a great ballgame and Pierzynski did a great job working with him out there," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "We really never got anything going."
Ryan didn't want to talk about the check-swing call.
"I will say it was a pretty outstanding game he threw," he said. "Had his slider working, obviously in and out of the zone, kept his pitch count down. ... Pretty outstanding stuff from him today."
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