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For Buehrle, a perfect day for history

For Buehrle, a perfect day for history

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When Mark Buehrle arrived at work Thursday morning, making a little baseball history with Ramon Castro and Dewayne Wise and then having a chat about it with the president of the United States probably wasn't on the agenda.

On what turned out to be a legendary day not only in the life of the White Sox left-hander but for baseball as a whole, Buehrle took everyone along for the ride of his life at U.S Cellular Field.

He did it with Castro catching him for the first time. He did it by watching Wise enter the game in the ninth and save the day with a circus play of which sandlot dreams are made. And he finished it all off by fielding a call from a certain White Sox fan who lives in the White House, President Barack Obama.

So it's safe to say that, while this might have been the 18th perfect game in Major League history, there hasn't been a perfect day quite like the one Buehrle shared with baseball Thursday.

For Buehrle, basking in the glow of going 27 up, 27 down was hard enough to comprehend, though he'd done it once before. Getting a grip on the perfection and understanding the enormity of the accomplishment, he admitted, might take awhile.

"I think it will soak in a little later," he said. "I still don't know what happened. Obviously, any time your name gets up there with some of the greats in the game, it means a lot."

By joining the elite of the elite with multiple no-nos, Buehrle became one of only six pitchers in baseball history to post a perfect game and another no-hitter on his resume. Following up on his April 18, 2007, gem against the Rangers, Buehrle joins Sandy Koufax, Cy Young, Jim Bunning, Randy Johnson and Addie Joss with that distinction.

In setting the defending American League champion Rays down in order nine times, Buehrle took a pair of unlikely heroes along for the ride of his life: Wise and Castro.

Wise simply saved the perfect game, the no-hitter and most likely the shutout with a leaping grab of Gabe Kapler's drive to left-center in the ninth inning, just moments after he'd entered the game as a defensive replacement. Wise, it turned out, was a wise move by White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, who discussed with bench coach Joey Cora needing a little more range in the outfield for the last inning.

"That's our job," Guillen said of making the switch.

And Wise did his job very well with his catch, no doubt earning a nice reward from the pitcher who gave the entire team wristwatches when he threw his no-hitter in 2007.

"He might wake up tomorrow with a new car in his driveway," Rays DH Pat Burrell said.

Maybe Castro should park his current vehicle in the street to open up the driveway as well, or at least clear off a spot on his wrist. He paired with Buehrle to become the first battery in history to work together for the first time and produce a perfect game. Then again, Buehrle kept it simple and made it pretty easy for Castro.

"You put it down, and I'll throw it," Buehrle told the veteran catcher. "Hopefully, I'll get it where you want it."

Buehrle just kept doing that, pitch after quick pitch, inning after inning in a sharp performance of two hours, three minutes, for baseball's second no-hitter in two weeks, following up on the July 10 gem by the Giants' Jonathan Sanchez.

Along the way, Buehrle threw one of his wicked changeups at the whole notion of no-hitter superstitions, such as the pitcher or the rest of the dugout not talking about it. But, then, when he saw that notoriously verbose teammate A.J. Pierzynski was on the sidelines all day with nothing to do, Buehrle probably should have known the silent treatment wasn't going to happen.

"He was running his mouth before the game because he always says he doesn't finish games anymore," Pierzynski said of Buehrle. "I said, 'Well, go out and finish one.' He's like, 'Nah.' I said, 'Go out and throw a no-hitter,' and he said, 'I already got one of those.' I was like, 'Go out and throw a perfect game.'

"We were kind of joking back and forth, and [Buehrle] said, 'OK, I just might.' Every inning, he and I were sitting up here [in the dugout] joking back and forth. Then, in the ninth, I came up and said, 'Hey, you got three more outs, let's do this.' He was just laughing. There's superstitions, but with Mark, he just has fun with it."

And so did we all, as Buehrle smiled his way through the tense moments, cracking a grin when Burrell's rocket down the left-field line in the eighth inning was foul by several blades of grass, and finally smiling that smile that was about all you could see of his face as he held his glove on top of his head and waited for the hugs to begin.

So for the second time in 27 -- yes, 27 -- months, Mark Buehrle set off a wild celebration on the field at U.S. Cellular Field with a work of pitching art.

Only this time, he cut off the postgame press conference to take a call from President Obama, whom he'd just seen wearing Sox colors at the All-Star Game in St. Louis.

"I'm still in shock," Buehrle told the commander in chief.

So is the rest of baseball, and in a good way.

John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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