Oakland Pitcher On His Perfect Game

Robert Siegel talks to Dallas Braden of the Oakland A's, who pitched a perfect game Sunday in a 4-to-zero win over Tampa Bay. It's only the 19th perfect game in major league history.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

For the 19th time in the history of Major League Baseball, a perfect game was pitched yesterday. Twenty-seven men came to bat, and 27 outs later, the Oakland A's Dallas Braden had bragging rights for life. And we're joined right now by Dallas Braden. Congratulations.

Mr. DALLAS BRADEN (Pitcher, Oakland Athletics): Well, thank you, sir. And thank you for having me. That's pretty awesome.

SIEGEL: Now, tell me. You're throwing a perfect game, how many batters, how many innings in does it start to occur to you, hey, I could get all 27 guys out?

Mr. BRADEN: You never think that you can't get all 27 outs, but you never think that you're going to do it all in a row, that's for sure. And, you know, when I had a 12-pitch at-bat with Mr. Gabe Kapler, and after I was able to induce his out, I kind of took notice of what was going on. So that's kind of when it hit me.

SIEGEL: Mr. Gabe Kapler of the Tampa Bay Rays. You threw your perfect game against a pretty good ball club yesterday.

Mr. BRADEN: Yeah. That's a pretty strong lineup over there. You know, there's not many holes, if there are any. They got speed and power in all the right places. You know, we were able to eek one out.

SIEGEL: In the dugout, did your teammates on the A's observe the old tradition of never mentioning a no-hitter, no less a perfect game, or were they talking to you about it?

Mr. BRADEN: You know, every five days, nobody ever talks to me. That's - every day that I pitch, they don't talk to me. When I come into the clubhouse, they don't talk to me. So, in that respect, it was not too far of a stretch from what I experienced every fifth day. But they were a little farther away and they were a lot more quiet.

SIEGEL: What do you - how do you make of this? For A's fans, they've been following your whole season very closely. But for a lot of other baseball fans, the news yesterday was: remember the guy who criticized Alex Rodriguez for stepping on the pitcher's mound on a foul ball and the one whom A-Rod dismissed as, how many games has he won? That guy just pitched a perfect game. The two events seem linked now.

Mr. BRADEN: There's obviously zero correlation between the first incident and this latter. It's just - I guess it's nice to gain some notoriety for something positive. You know, I still don't consider what happened to be negative. It was just a, you know, it was just an assertion of my respect for the game, nothing more. And, you know, this time around, the name in the paper has got some lights around it, so that's all the better.

SIEGEL: And because of that, your grandmother contributed what I think will be one of the quotes of the year in Major League Baseball. Somebody asked her about your run-in with Alex Rodriguez - who, by the way, was gracious about your throwing the perfect game yesterday - but someone asked her and she said -first said: Let's forget about it, then she said: Stick it, A-Rod.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BRADEN: That just gives you some insight to her fiery attitude and where I get my competitive nature from as well.

SIEGEL: Does it affect your approach now in your next couple of starts as you will take the mound as Dallas Perfect Game Braden?

Mr. BRADEN: Oh, no. Not at all. You know, I've always said I think everybody's goal that takes that mound is to be perfect. If not, it's to be unhittable. And if not, it's to throw a shutout. And if not, you just keep going on from there. But the ultimate goal in all of those is to give your team a chance to win.

SIEGEL: Have you looked at the list of the pitchers who've thrown the 18 perfect games before yours?

Mr. BRADEN: No. You know, I still haven't gotten a chance to look at the list. I've obviously had the names, you know, thrown out at me. And just some of the names are, I mean, you know, you would never think ever have your name mentioned in the same book as those people, let alone the same breath. And, you know, lo and behold, here I am.

SIEGEL: Well, Dallas Braden, congratulations on the perfect game for the Oakland A's against the Tampa Bay Rays. And may you have a great season.

Mr. BRADEN: Well, thank you very much, sir. Thank you for having me.

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