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Whatever Became of Harvey Haddix’ (Im)Perfect Game Uniform?

Quick show of hands: How many of you are familiar with the late Harvey Haddix, holder of one of the most amazing records in baseball? And do you know why his achievement is etched into the annals of baseball history?

While I’d venture most of you may have heard of Haddix, there are probably not too many Uni Watchers who were around on May 26, 1959, when he threw 12 perfect innings (36 up, 36 down!) for the Pittsburgh Pirates in a game against the Milwaukee Braves. Unfortunately for Haddix, the Buccos were also blanked for all twelve innings, and the Pirates (and Haddix) lost the game in the 13th inning. It’s a feat that will almost certainly never be equaled.

Uni Watch was a bit busy this year on May 26th, so the story you’re about to read is a few days past its anniversary.

I’ve actually known about Harvey Haddix for most of my life, as my parents bought me a book called “Strange But True Baseball Stories” when I was maybe seven or eight years old. It was a fantastic book for a kid who was beginning his love of baseball, and contained a few dozen short(ish) stories about players and achievements from baseball’s early years up through the 1960s. It’s been probably 50 years since I last read the book, so I don’t remember all those anecdotes, but I do recall learning about Eddie Gaedel, the smallest player ever to get an at-bat in a major league game, and Pete Gray, a one-armed major leaguer who played in 1945, when most of America’s top baseball talents were serving the United States during World War II.

The book also included the story of Harvey Haddix’ 12-inning perfecto, which was unfortunately spoiled by Milwaukee in the 13th inning.

While the anniversary of Haddix’ no-no has just passed, I was contacted by long-time reader Steve Stout, an avid collector of baseball memorabelia, and close friend of Haddix. Steve informed me he has “a personal collection of over 250 game-worn uniforms from MLB, NFL and NBA spanning the years 1960-2005, including 100 game-worn jerseys from the Big Red Machine.” (We’ll be hearing more from Steve in the future about some of that!) More importantly, Steve owns “the bat Harvey used that night, as well as hundreds of other items from his collection including game-worn uniforms, cleats, gloves, last-out baseballs, player and coach contracts, awards and trophies, etc.”

Steve shared a story he wrote earlier which he thought Uni Watchers would enjoy. It’s a story that unfortunately doesn’t have a happy ending (much like Haddix’ heartbreaking loss that night). I’ll let Steve take it from here, and then an interesting codacil to this story.

• • • • •

by Steve Stout

May 26, 2024 marked the 65th anniversary of the 12-inning perfect game pitched by the late Harvey Haddix, and I’ve had many readers through the years ask me if Haddix got to keep the Pittsburgh Pirates’ flannel uniform he was wearing that night in Milwaukee when he ended up losing the game to the Braves, 1-0, in the 13th inning.

He actually did get to keep the entire uniform he was wearing, including his cap and stirrup socks.

Haddix also had the fielder’s glove he was wearing that night bronzed and mounted, and he kept the bat he used to go 1 for 5.

It was rare for a player to take a uniform home back in those days since Major League teams recycled them for use by their minor league players. Uniform recycling was done by most teams until 1987, when Rawlings became the official uniform supplier of almost all MLB teams.

In fact, the only uniforms Haddix took home from his MLB days were from his perfect game, the home and road versions he wore in the 1960 World Series and the last uniform he wore as the Pirates’ pitching coach in 1984.

Haddix kept his 1959 perfect game uniform in a closet at his home near South Vienna until 1970, when he received a letter from the Pirates asking if they could borrow it for display in a museum they were creating inside new Three Rivers Stadium.

“The letter was on Pirates’ stationery and mentioned that they had received items from other Pirate players for the museum,” Haddix told me in 1991. “So I loaned them my uniform for display in the new stadium.”

In the mid-1980s, Haddix said he received a call from the Baseball Hall of Fame asking if it could borrow the uniform for a display of perfect-game pitchers.

“I thought that would be nice, so I called the Pirates and asked them to forward my uniform to Cooperstown, and they said, ‘What uniform?” said Haddix. “They had no idea what I was talking about and knew nothing about a museum in the stadium in 1970.”

Haddix never did find out what happened to his perfect-game uniform or who stole it, and it has never been offered in a public sale.

Its value at auction today would likely be $100,000 or more.

• • • • •

Oh man. That sucks.

After Steve sent me his story, we chatted some, and he mentioned these choice details:

The Baseball Hall of Fame thinks it has the glove Harvey wore that night but he sent them his back-up glove a week after the game since he had his game glove broken in the way he wanted it.

I don’t know who currently owns the bronzed glove that was really worn that night. It was auctioned off several years ago.

So the bat you see in Steve’s story above is from his personal collection!

Such a shame that Haddix’ Perfect Game uniform will likely never end up in the Hall of Fame, where it surely belongs.

Big thanks to Steve for sharing his story. We’ll definitely be hearing more from him in the future!

And here’s a really nice, approximately three-minute video with Harvey’s widow, Marcia Haddix, who offered a look at her collection of memorabilia while sharing her memories of her husband and his perfect game:

Comments (24)

    So sad about the uniform. I felt poorly for Haddix until I realized the following season he won a World Series.

    WOW, I could have also written this: “my parents bought me a book called “Strange But True Baseball Stories” when I was maybe seven or eight years old. It was a fantastic book for a kid who was beginning his love of baseball.” I loved that book,

    I remember having that book too…and may actually still have it in my basement!

    Allow me to join the “Strange But True” club. I read that book cover to cover many times.

    If it was a scam, wouldn’t he know the address where he sent the uniform? And if he really sent it to the Pirates and they had no museum, then that’s really strange. At a dinner party recently the host asked everyone if they could have one obscure, strange, super power, what would it be? My answer is to have the power to be able to find anybody or anything. Sadly this uniform is probably where most things are when they are lost for any length of time… many feet below in a landfill.

    If the original fake request came in 1970 and the request from the Hall of Fame came about 15 years later in the mid 1980’s I doubt he still had the address he sent it to

    The story of Harvey Haddix isn’t complete without hearing the Baseball Projecct’s fabulous song about him, which is updated every time another perfecto happens. link

    When I was a kid, my grandfather gave me a book called Baseball Cards: 300 All-Time Stars, published by noted baseball research organization Consumer Guide, and it was as poorly written/compiled as you would expect. But it had the story of Haddix’s almost-perfect game, and I remember thinking it was very sad as a child.

    I had many books like that when I was a kid! Inspired my love of baseball at a young age! My first set of cards was 1972. Great memories!

    How cool is the umpires tie and hat? Has Uni-Watch ever explored the Umpire Uniforms in detail?

    I want to say Paul has at *some* point in time, but old time umpire gear (especially with the hats and ties) is always ripe for additional exploration.

    Just the difference between NL and AL home plate padding back in the day is worth a deep dive.

    My dad was at this game. As a 12-year old, his only story he used to tell was that it was the most boring game he ever sat through.

    As a Pirate fan, I can attest there was a museum inside Gate C of Three Rivers Stadium. One would have to enter the right side gates as you walked up the ramp. I never went into the museum so I dont know if the uniform was displayed.

    Great post, Phil, and great story Steve! This should definitely be the topic of one of those greatest sports mysteries tv shows.

    Phil, I too had that book when I was a kid, and ironically the two stories I most remember from that book are those of Eddie Gaedel and Pete Gray!

    One slight critique, in lieu of commenter’s suggestion yesterday, they’re “short stories”, not “short(ish) stories.”

    “How many of you are familiar with the late Harvey Haddix…”
    You asked this question and I immediately knew the name but didn’t know why. Then it clicked – I drove by a historical marker in Ohio daily for about 9 months about 18 years ago. I never stopped to read it as I wasn’t into local history as much back then. I didn’t even bother looking his name up on the Google machine. And I forgot about it until now. Very cool story and a bit of a bookend for me!

    I first learned of the Haddix perfect game from the old “Street and Smith’s” baseball annual. It must have been 1965 (I was 10), and they had an article called “Nine Perfect Games.” Jim Bunning had pitched one the year before, at the time the 9th in baseball history and the first since Haddix, so I guess that’s why S&S did the article.

    Shame about the uniform. I’m inclined to believe it was no scam, that the museum did exist but was later removed and forgotten and that by the mid-80s whoever Haddix talked to didn’t know about it. It’s amazing how fast institutional memory can disappear.

Comments are closed.