What is the Fewest Pitches Ever Thrown in a Complete Game?

Charles Henry Red Barrett was a major league baseball pitcher who played 11 seasons in total in the National League. He is remembered for throwing the shortest full game with the fewest pitches (5) in history. Starting pitchers are usually taken out of the game after exceeding 100 pitches or finishing a full game. Recently, Chicago Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks retired all batters in a full game with only 81 pitches.

This is not only tied with Carlos Silva, who is known for his aversion to walking, for the lowest number of pitches in a complete game (CG), but it is also only the eighth known game in the era of retroactive sheets in which a pitcher has gone the distance but needed fewer than 80 pitches. The lowest pitch count in a perfect game is 74 pitches by Addie Joss of the Cleveland Guardians (then known as the Cleveland Naps) on October 2, 1908, against the Chicago White Sox. An example of this occurred in 1959, when Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Harvey Haddix threw 12 perfect innings before losing the game completely in the 13th inning to the Milwaukee Braves. This MLB game became known as “Maddux” in deference to former Braves and Cubs Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, who was legendary, among other things, for his efficiency as a pitcher.

During his 23-season career, Maddux was awarded 109 complete games, peaking at 10 in 1994 and 1995. A perfect game in baseball occurs when a pitcher takes out all the opposing batters without anyone reaching the base throughout the game. However, if the game goes into extra innings and the perfect game is lost, then the pitcher gets no credit for the perfect game that occurred in the first 9 innings. That extraordinary exception occurred on July 22, 1997, when Maddux released a 77-pitch masterpiece for the Braves against his former team, the Cubs. In baseball's early days, most pitchers finished what they started unless they got into too much trouble. Nowadays, starting pitchers are too expensive to damage their arms after exceeding 100 pitches or finishing a full game.

Sosa's earthling marked the seventh time a Cubs hitter retired on the first pitch he saw in his at-bat. In short, when it comes to pitches per hitter, Maddux was marginally less efficient in his full games than he was as a general rule. But some of those 105 came in games shortened to less than nine innings because of rain or their team's loss, and in a couple of those first full games, pitch count data simply doesn't exist. Overall, Charles Henry Red Barrett holds the record for throwing the fewest pitches ever in a complete game with 5 pitches. However, Kyle Hendricks and Carlos Silva are tied for second place with 81 pitches each. Harvey Haddix and Greg Maddux have also thrown some impressive low pitch count games throughout their careers.

Rosanne Fajardo
Rosanne Fajardo

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