A 24th round draft pick out of Texas Tech in 2004, Braden overcame a hardscrabble upbringing, shoulder surgery and a lack of fastball velocity to make the majors in '07. Between returns to the minors and a 2009 trip to the disabled list for a foot infection, he had a modest career mark of 17-23 with a 4.62 ERA when he took the mound in Oakland on May 9, 2010 to face the Rays on Mother's Day. His greatest fame to that point had come in a bizarre incident just a couple of weeks earlier, a heated exchange with Alex Rodriguez over the Yankees slugger having crossed "his" mound while returning to first base following a foul ball, a controversy that generated national attention.
In his first start after that confrontation, Braden had been roughed up by Tampa Bay, but just 11 days later he made history against them, finishing with six strikeouts and getting Gabe Kapler to ground out to short to end it. Braden enjoyed several other strong outings that year, including a pair of complete-game four-hitters in August, and finished the season 11-14 with a 3.50 ERA in 192 2/3 innings. He made just three starts in 2011 before undergoing surgery to repair a torn anterior shoulder capsule, and he never made it back to pitching a competitive game; all told, he notched just eight wins after his perfecto. He's now a broadcaster on ESPN, where he's cultivated a unique look, to say the least.