On May 21, 2009, the Phillies were pummeling the Reds, 12-5. Jimmy Rollins went 4-for-6, Chase Utley, Greg Dobbs, Raul Ibanez, and Ryan Howard all hit home runs, and the bullpen held Cincinnati to two hits and no runs for four innings, after Joe Blanton made a mess of things early on.
But deep in flyover country, just off the Ohio River, 21-year-old Akron Aeros pitcher Jeanmar Gomez took the mound against the Trenton Thunder. By the time he trotted off the field nine innings later, all 6,000 people in attendance (which is pretty good for a minor league/late season Philadelphia Phillies game), he would go down in the seldom read history books of Waterfront Park.
Here's the story, as told by a local sports broadcaster reading off a cue card:
An undrafted free agent signing of the Indians, his performance got him some attention from the big club. The performance lowered Gomez's ERA for the season to 0.31. Gomez struck the Thunder with eight strikeouts, one key one on a change-up to get the second out in the ninth, and got the Thunder's Justin Snyder to fly out to left center to end it, becoming the first Aero to throw a perfect game.
He was also the last.
Years later, things are different. Raul Ibanez's career in managerial rumors has only just begun. Ryan Howard's name is in the wheel of go-to column fodder for the MLB offseason. Jimmy Rollins was drafted and killed in Vietnam. Greg Dobbs is now a political columnist for The Denver Post [EDITOR'S NOTE: Justin this is very obviously not the same Greg Dobbs who played for the Phillies, and I think you know that]. The Akron Aeros are now the Akron Rubberducks. And Tony Cornish, Jr. has since departed from WZBN to WTVY in Dothan, Alabama, images of that magical 11 a.m. minor league baseball game still very much alive in his memories.
And Jeanmar Gomez has found himself pulled into a Phillies franchise at its most exciting point in four seasons. Who knows what the future will hold for the 26-year-old righty? Long-relief appearances to clean up a rocky Aaron Harang start? Spot starts to fill in for a suddenly traded Cliff Lee? No one knows. But at least he, like Phillies fans, has the warm glow of past success to comfort him on lonely nights.