Miami Marlins history: Kevin Brown's (almost) perfect game

USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Marlins may not have a perfect game in their history, but they may have one of the closest calls in the annals of almost-perfect games. Kevin Brown was one hit-by-pitch shy of a perfect game on June 10, 1997.

MLB 2K13 proudly announces the return of the Perfect Game Challenge. Pitch a perfect game for your favorite team and you could win some serious money, including a top prize of $250,000. Go to facebook.com/mlb2k for details.

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A perfect game is, naturally, perfect for the pitcher involved. That pitcher does not allow a single baserunner to the game by any means. No walks, no hit-by-pitches, no hits allowed. The pitcher puts up a spotless set of zeroes by the time the ninth inning finishes up.

In the grand history of the Miami Marlins, the team has never once had a perfect game. But the Marlins have come close a few times to that majestic mark, as the team has posted four no-hitters in franchise history. Many franchises are still bereft of no-hitters, and the Marlins have four to their name in just under 20 years of existence. But while the Fish may have been host to one of the ugliest no-hitters in the history of the game (A.J. Burnett's nine-walk "masterpiece" on May 12, 2001), they were also a part of a no-hitter that was incredibly close to the perfect game.

What game is that? Witness Kevin Brown's brilliant work from June 10, 1997, in the middle of the Marlins' eventual World Series-winning season.


Source: FanGraphs

The Marlins scored more than the necessary number of runs in this game, and the offense performed well in a flurry in the sixth and seventh innings, but the story of the game was very clearly Brown's magnificent performance. Brown went above and beyond his usual dominant self from 1997 (237 1/3 innings, 2.69 ERA, 2.94 FIP, 6.2 FanGraphs WAR), striking out seven batters while putting up his prototypical control and walking no batters.

But the most intriguing part was the fact that he did not allow a hit and had not done so for the entirety of the game heading into the eighth inning. Combine that with the lack of walks and the intrigue regarding a potential perfect game had to be building in the Marlins dugout and among the few Marlins fans who had a chance to catch that Tuesday afternoon game. And it looked as though the Fish were well on their way to their first perfect game when Brown got the two toughest outs on the Giants in the eighth inning, disposing of Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent.

Of course, as it often happens with these things, the bid for a perfect game was broken up by a perfectly forgettable player. Marvin Benard, he of the career .271/.343/.402 line, followed up the two Hall of Famers with the only trot to first base in the game when he was hit by a pitch by Brown. Brown disposed of the remaining four batters in quick fashion, whiffing Darryl Hamilton to finish off the game and the no-hitter in front of a quiet San Francisco crowd.

At first, when you watch that video, you might confuse it for a shot of what was then known as Joe Robbie Stadium, if only because of the empty orange seats behind Brown. But then you realize that this game is in San Francisco and it was on a weekday afternoon, making it probably one of the least visible no-hitters of recent memory. Little did the 10,257 (!) in attendance know that they would be witness to an amazing close-to-perfect no-hitter that was broken up by, of all things, a hit-by-pitch. Brown's no-hitter remains the best in Marlins history and is a fantastic event to celebrate from the Marlins' past.

A toast to Kevin Brown, and a toast to you, MLB2K13 game player, for giving it a go in the 2013 edition of the MLB2K series. If you pitch a perfect game, you can get a chance to win a lot of money, including the $250,000 grand prize. Try to throw one as a Marlin for extra degree of difficulty. I heard there is a new pitching prospect who might be able to help with that department.

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