April 9, 2003
John Wasdin was at the ballpark early Tuesday. He stretched, ran and then participated in batting practice with his fellow Nashville pitchers.
Later Tuesday night, Wasdin charted pitches as usual as the Sounds – the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Triple-A farm team – tangled with visiting Albuquerque at Greer Stadium.
“It was fun and exciting and special but you realize that you can’t stop doing what you have to do to get ready for your next game,” Wasdin said Tuesday. “I got up early and followed my routine. It was back to being a normal today really.”
Monday wasn’t your normal day at the ballpark for Wasdin.
The former Florida State and Godby High standout fired the first perfect game in the Nashville Sounds’ 26-year history in a 4-0 victory over the visiting Albuquerque Isotopes at Greer Stadium in the opening game of a four-game series in front of 1,946 excited fans.
Wasdin (1-0) struck out Isotopes pinch-hitter Robert Stratton on four pitches to close the game before he was mobbed by his teammates just in front of the mound following his first start of the 2003 season. Wasdin threw 100 pitches – 72 of those for strikes – reaching a full count only once when he faced his second to last batter of the night, Matt Erickson. Wasdin fanned Erickson looking on a curveball.
The last time a Sounds pitcher threw a no-hitter was on Aug. 7, 1988, when Jack Armstrong threw against Indianapolis. The only other time the Sounds have been a part of a perfect game was when Oklahoma City’s Rick Helling threw a perfect game in Oklahoma against Nashville on Aug. 13, 1986.
The closest the Isotopes came to a hit of Wasdin was a sharp ground ball by catcher Matt Treanor down the third baseline in the top of the ninth inning. Mike Gulan who kept the perfect game intact, making a backhanded catch near the base for the first out.
“I’ve never had anything like that before,” Wasdin said.
“You know, as a ballplayer you remember things that you do. I remember striking out 17 hitters I think in a Little League game (at Tallahassee’s Levy Park), beating Georgia Tech in the ACC championship game, playing in the College World Series at FSU, being drafted.
“But this (perfect game) is something you never think about. I mean, you might see other people do it but I never realized how difficult it is. Everything has to be on your side. It’s starting to think in and everyone is calling. It’s kind of like when you are drafted or make the big leagues for the first time, people are coming out of the woodwork. I appreciate everyone’s thoughts. It’s kind of neat.”
Wasdin, who resides in Jacksonville in the offseason – his father lives in Texas and mother in Tallahassee – admits it would have been nice if his wife and kids had seen the game. But once he talked to his wife late Monday, “she had her list of people to call and the phone calls have taken off,” Wasdin said and laughed.
Wasdin, a righthander known for his precision, said he had control of a variety of pitches Monday. He fanned 15 batters.
“I threw every one (pitch) I had,” Wasdin said.
“I was placing my fastball in and out, up and down. I threw changeups and split fingers, depending on the ball and how it felt. I had good location and was down in the zone, plus the guys played great behind me. The best pitch I threw the entire game was probably to (Erickson, second to last batter). It was the perfect time to throw the curve (at 3-2) because I had already thrown four fastballs to him. It was like, ‘Why not throw the curve?’ It worked out.”
Wasdin is hopeful this season works out and lands him back in the major leagues.
Wasdin was selected out of FSU in 1993 by Oakland as the 25th overall pick in the June draft. He has a 31-29 record in major league appearances, with a 3.85 ERA and is 37-21 in the minors.
He was signed by the Pirates as a minor league free agent after spending a year in Japan with the Yomiuri Giants, where he posted a 1-4 record with a 4.54 ERA in 10 appearances. The 2002 season was the first was first that Wasdin did not pitch in the majors since 1994. He also continues to keep tabs on the Seminoles.
“I am just thankful to still be playing baseball and I want to continue to play as long as I can,” Wasdin said. “Pittsburgh has a very good (major league staff) but the goal, yes, is to get back (to the major leagues). Just have to keep working.”
Wasdin worked as usual Tuesday.
But he certainly had the perfect touch Monday night.
Story courtesy of Jim Henry