August 15, 2012, 10 years ago today: Felix Hernandez pitches the first perfect game in Seattle Mariners history, blanking Tampa Bay 1-0. While it was only the 23rd perfect game in big league history, King Felix’s perfecto was the third of the season in the majors, an all-time record.It was also the second perfect game of the year at Safeco Field—Chicago White Sox hurler Philip Humber had tossed one in April. Furthermore, it was the second no-hitter of the season thrown by the Mariners, as six Seattle pitchers had combined to no-hit the Dodgers in June. Hernandez’s perfect game remains the most recent in Major League Baseball.
The Mariners signed Hernandez out of Venezuela at the age of 16 in 2002. He chose Seattle over a couple of higher bidders because his idol, fellow Venezuelan Freddy Garcia, was pitching there. Hernandez made his big league debut in 2005 when he was 19 in a 3-1 loss at Detroit. But he rebounded in his next start, throwing eight shutout innings to beat Minnesota 1-0 at Safeco for his first victory in the majors. By 2009, Hernandez led the American League in wins with 19, and in 2010 he won the AL Cy Young Award.
One of the most beloved players in Seattle history, Hernandez was honored with his own special cheering section at Safeco, the “King’s Court,” in 2011. He holds the franchise record for wins with 169 and strikeouts with 2,524. He was a six-time All-Star. But through it all, we never got to see Hernandez pitch in the postseason. The M’s, of course, have not made the playoffs since 2001. We’ll always feel like we’re missing a signature King Felix moment.
Hernandez’s final game was in September, 2019, against the Oakland A’s at Safeco Field, a 3-1 loss that made him 1-8 on the season. He opted out of the 2020 campaign due to COVID concerns after signing with the Atlanta Braves. The following winter he inked a minor league deal with the Baltimore Orioles but opted out of the contract late in spring training. Hernandez, still only 36 years old, is technically a free agent right now but you can consider him retired. He still lives in the Seattle area.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)