Obama, Letterman join Humber's whirlwind ride

Obama, Letterman join Humber's whirlwind ride

OAKLAND -- Add President Barack Obama and Late Show legend David Letterman to the list of people crossing Philip Humber's path to perfection.

The White Sox right-hander, who threw the 21st perfect game in Major League history on Saturday afternoon at Safeco Field, worked through a daylong interview schedule leading up to Monday night's series opener against the A's. Humber's initial appearance came at 7:30 a.m. PT on the Dan Patrick Show and ended with MLB Network Radio.

In between came the reading of the Late Show's Top 10 list, taped at the Coliseum, and a call from the White Sox first fan.

"It definitely is an honor to speak to him," said Humber of his Monday call from President Obama. "He just wanted to congratulate me. He even asked about Kristan and the baby and asked about how that was going.

"He shared some of his experience of being a new father. He's a very nice man, and he represents our country in a good way. He's definitely a great communicator, and I appreciate him talking to me."


This edition of the Top 10 list turned out to be "The Top 10 Thoughts That Went Through Philip Humber's Mind During His Perfect Game." Humber pointed out that some of the list changed from rehearsal to the time Letterman arrived in the studio, and he added with a smile that one of the 10 had to do with a teammate.

As it turned out, it was catcher A.J. Pierzynski, whom Humber poked fun at with thought No. 9.

"Thank goodness for my catcher, A.J. Pierzanky ... Piernoftski ... Pierzonski. ... Whatever," Humber read.

The other thing Humber was thankful for according to Letterman's Top 10 list?

"Thank goodness I drafted myself for my fantasy team," Humber read while trying to hold back a smile for thought No. 7.

Letterman also asked Humber if it was true that he had previously pitched for the Mets, to which Humber responded: "For a little bit." Humber made just five appearances with the Mets from 2006-07, but he made light of his time in New York when Letterman pressed further.

"Well, apparently not too well," Humber said when Letterman asked how it went. "They got rid of me."

The playful banter between Letterman and Humber came to an end when a modest Humber read the No. 1 thought that was going through his head on the mound Saturday -- "Humber? How about Humbest!"

Humber seemed to make a positive impression on the comedy legend, as Letterman reached out to the pitcher after the Top 10 list was completed to have him come back on the show for an extended phone interview.

In that segment, the two continued their back and forth, discussing what Humber does while he's watching games he isn't pitching in, whether he prefers to chew sunflower seeds or bubble gum and then ended with a question he had forgot to ask Humber in the initial interview: "In the perfect game, how was your yacker?"

"My yacker," Humber said, alluding to the slang term for a breaking ball, "was tremendous."

Humber enjoyed the experience overall and was hoping that his teammates wouldn't be able to pick on him the way he did Pierzynski once they all saw it on television.

"I think it went good," Humber said. "I can't wait to see it, and hopefully, I didn't embarrass myself too bad. It sounded like I got some laughs. It seemed like he enjoyed himself, so hopefully it goes over good."

"He's funny. He's been on for a long time, and it's definitely an honor to be asked to be on that show," said Humber, who said that he doesn't usually watch any late-night television. "It's probably something I'll never get to do again. So I wanted to enjoy it as much as I could."

Congratulatory Tweets for Humber came in from Detroit ace Justin Verlander, Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kate Upton and new Jets quarterback Tim Tebow, to name a few. Humber is a fan of what Tebow has accomplished on the field, but also how he carries himself.

During the offseason, Humber tweeted Tebow when he mentioned on his account a hospital he was building in the Philippines. Humber laughed when stating that Tebow gets a lot of Tweets at him, so it was easy to miss his comments.

As to whether President Obama's call trumped Tebow's tweet, the humble Humber went in a different direction when talking about his favorite celebratory interactions.

"Probably my favorite phone calls are the ones from family and friends, the ones that know me best, the ones that are a fan of mine for a long time and not when I threw a perfect game," Humber said. "When I threw a lot of imperfect games, they have been there for the hard times, too. It was nice to share that moment with them."

That moment earned Humber the American League Player of the Week honor. His perfect game came in Major League start No. 30, which according to Elias, is the third-smallest total for any pitcher to achieve perfection (Charles Robertson was fourth, Lee Richmond was 21st). Humber and Oakland's Dallas Braden (May 9, 2010 vs. the Rays) are the only pitchers whose first career complete game was a perfect game, courtesy of Elias, and Humber and Braden are the only perfect pitchers to go to a three-ball count on the 27th batter, according to the Society for American Baseball Research.

SABR also pointed out that Humber threw the fewest amount of balls in a perfect game, at 29, since David Cone in 1999. But only Mark Buehrle threw more balls in the ninth (seven) than Humber's six.

This accomplishment will live on forever for Humber, regardless of what he achieves through the rest of his career. But Humber simply is focused on getting ready for his next start Thursday night to start a homestand against the Red Sox, throwing his usual bullpen session amidst Monday's hoopla.

"Enjoy the moment and try to remember all of it, but at the same time, our guys have done a good job of getting most of it out of the way," Humber said. "I'm just trying to be myself, and I know it's something that's like your 15 minutes of fame. I really try as much as I can to represent what I believe in and represent the White Sox well. I just want to be appreciative of it. Like I was telling people, throwing a perfect game is not something you do, but it's something that happens to you."

"I'm not surprised at all. He's a great person," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of how smoothly Humber has handled his sudden burst of fame. "He's a humble guy. I don't see it affecting him in a negative way. I think it's great for him and he's handled it well."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.