Friday marks the fifth anniversary of White Sox pitcher Philip Humber retiring all 27 Mariners he faced at Safeco Field to become the 19th pitcher in modern baseball history to throw a perfect game. Coming off a solid season in Chicago's rotation in 2011, it appeared as though the 29-year-old righty—who had been chosen by the Mets with the third pick of the '04 draft—was finally about to become a star. As it turned out, however, Humber was closer to the end of his major league career than the beginning. He won just four more games in the bigs and last pitched at that level in 2013.
Most of the 21 perfect games in the majors since 1901 were thrown by accomplished pitchers. Six are now in the Hall of Fame: Cy Young (whose perfecto came in 1904), Addie Joss ('08), Jim Bunning ('64), Sandy Koufax ('65), Catfish Hunter ('68) and Randy Johnson (2004). Conceivably, Roy Halladay (2010) and Felix Hernandez ('12) might join them in Cooperstown some day, or at worst wind up among the next tier of perfecto-spinners such as Dennis Martinez (1991), Kenny Rogers ('94), David Wells ('98), David Cone ('99) and Mark Buehrle (2009)—pitchers who enjoyed long, impressive careers.
The five pitchers highlighted here, however, are at the other end of the spectrum. They had careers that would have surely been forgotten had they not achieved a sort of immortal status for being, for one day at least, perfect.