On August 23, 2001, Randy Johnson walked out to the mound in the sixth frame and threw exactly three strikes to Tony McKnight (out #1). NOTHING unusual about The Big Unit doing that! Gary Matthews, Jr. dug in next, Randy did the same thing, threw exactly three pitches to him, and all three were strikes once again (out #2). Nothing too unusual, yet, but neat. Jack Wilson was up next, and the results were exactly the same, three pitches, three strikes (out #3).
9 Pitches – 9 Strikes – 3 Outs, a perfect inning in terms of strikeouts. I was immediately fascinated. I immediately began to dig through old issues of Baseball Digest, The Sporting News, USA Today Baseball Weekly, Sport Magazine, everything I had in my research library. There had to be more! Luckily for me, I have a complete run of Baseball Digest and USA Today Baseball Weekly, plus every box score from every game published in The Sporting News back through 1901.
I built the research page just before the All-Star break that year. The emails started coming in! I missed this one, I missed that one. One guy sent me his scorecard from when Robin Roberts did it – in 1956. It wasn’t the first Baseball Feat I researched, but it was quickly becoming one of the more unique ones…
Pedro Martinez did it, on May 18, 2002, and the following day I had more than twenty emails letting me know my chart was out of date! One of those emails said, in a less than friendly tone, that if I was going to track when a pitcher was immaculate, that my research should be as well. My nifty “title” evolved from 9 Pitches – 9 Strikes – 3 Outs to Immaculate Innings.
The page continued to evolve over the years; a longer (better written) description was added in the intro, most historical instances were found by other researchers, and a batters column was added in 2010. Earlier this week, the first pitcher from 2018 joined the “club” and I added him:
When I added Kevin Gausman, I added the links to the box scores from the record setting 2017 season and to compliment the AL / NL count column, I added an overall ML # column, so we all know in what order every recorded Immaculate Inning has occurred. Is it perfect? No, but it’s better today than it was yesterday, which is my goal every day on Baseball Almanac.