CHICAGO — Former Cubs pitcher Milt Pappas, found dead in his home Tuesday afternoon at age 76, had a grudge against umpire Bruce Froemming that was legendary.
Pappas was best known for coming within one strike of pitching a perfect game at Wrigley Field on Sept. 2, 1972. With a 3-2 count and two outs in the ninth inning, Pappas walked Larry Stahl of the San Diego Padres, leaving him to settle for a no-hitter.
Years later, Pappas still begrudged the home plate umpire's call.
“I still to this day don’t understand what [umpire] Bruce Froemming was going through in his mind at that time,” Pappas told ESPN in 2007. “Why didn’t he throw up that right hand like the umpire did in the perfect game with Don Larsen?”
“It’s a home game in Wrigley Field," Pappas continued. "I’m pitching for the Chicago Cubs. The score is 8-0 in favor of the Cubs. What does he have to lose by not calling the last pitch a strike to call a perfect game?”
In 2010, early 30 years after the game, Froemming was still defending himself,
“The pitch was outside,” Froemming told the New York Times. “I didn’t miss the pitch; Pappas missed the pitch. You can look at the tape. Pappas, the next day, said, ‘I know the pitch was outside, but you could have given it to me.’ "
The umpired added, "That pitch has gotten better over the years. That pitch is right down the middle now.”
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