His near perfect game for the Chicago Cubs in 1972 still remains one of the most interesting in their history. On Tuesday, the three-time All-Star Milt Pappas died at the age of 76.
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His time with theChicago Cubs
wasn’t long, but he made a lasting impression on Sept. 2, 1972. With a perfect game on the line against the San Diego Padres and a 3-2 count, pinch-hitterLarry Stahl
took a close pitch that umpire Bruce Froemming called a ball–ending the perfect game for Pappas. He retired the next batter to secure the no-hitter, but the call–and the relationship between Froemming and Pappas–has held in Cubs’ fans memory to this day.
The Cubs and Tom Ricketts were saddened to learn of the passing of Pappas, saying “we will always consider him as part of the Chicago Cubs family”. Pappas pitched from 1957 to 1973 and was a 200 game winner (209) without the benefit of a 20-win season.
"“Milt will forever be remembered for one of the most dramatic pitching performances in team history as he delivered a no-hitter that neared perfection in 1972,” Ricketts said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his friends, relatives and fans as we mourn this loss.”"
After Froemming retired, Pappas still held some fire about that call. “They were strikes or ‘that close’ to being strikes that he should’ve raised his right hand. I had the opportunity to have a perfect game and unfortunately, Bruce Froemming did not help me at all.”
Froemming, of course, didn’t see it the same. “They were off the plate and I don’t care if he gets a perfect game or not. I’m an umpire and I have to call a pitch where it is.” No surprise a pitcher and an umpire don’t agree.
Unfortunately, that wouldn’t be the toughest “loss” for Pappas in his life. His wife Carole was found in a pond near their home in Wheaton after apparently crashing her car into it. She had been missing for five years before being found. The death was ruled an accident after the autopsy showed she had drowned after driving her car into the pond.
Pappas is survived by his second wife, Judi Bloome, and children Michelle and Steve from his first marriage and Alexandria from his second marriage.