John Smiley’s Record Setting Game

Chicago Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood threw perhaps the most dominant game in baseball history in 1998 when he struck out 20 batters in a one-hit shutout. He threw 122 pitches with the vast majority going for strikes.

Want to know another impressive game that is still in the record books? John Smiley, then playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates, threw an 87-pitch complete game against the San Francisco Giants in 1990. While Kerry Wood had to work through several dicey counts in his signature game, Smiley’s control was nearly perfect. An astounding 73 (84%) of his pitches were strikes. The game ranks among the best in terms of lowest pitch counts and is the all-time greatest in terms of percentage of strikes thrown.

Smiley finished the following season as a 20-game winner, the last Pittsburgh pitcher to achieve the mark. Not bad for a single-A minor leaguer who pitched his way through a late-1980s Spring Training to start his career.

Smiley’s 1993 Refractor is one of the easier to obtain.

Always a classic: John is definitely not smiling on his first regular-issue baseball card.