SEATTLE — Phil Humber had Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery before his career even started. He bounced around as he tried to make it in the majors.
Now, well, Humber is just perfect.
Humber pitched the first perfect game in the majors in almost two years, leading the White Sox to a 4-0 victory over the Mariners on Saturday.
"What just took place was just awesome," Humber said.
It was baseball's 21st perfect game and first since the Phillies' Roy Halladay threw one against the Marlins on May 29, 2010. It was the third in White Sox history, joining Mark Buehrle against the Rays on July 23, 2009, and Charles Robertson against the Tigers on April 30, 1922.
Before Saturday, Humber was best known as one of four prospects the Mets traded to the Twins for two-time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana in February 2008. That's no longer the case, not after tossing the majors' first no-hitter of the season and the second April perfect game in history.
"I don't even know what to say," the Nacogdoches, Texas, native said. "I don't know what Philip Humber is doing in this list. No idea what my name is doing there, but I'm thankful it's there."
He was drafted No. 3 overall by the Mets in 2004, one pick after Justin Verlander went to the Tigers. But Humber was sidelined by elbow ligament replacement surgery the next year and didn't win a game in the majors until 2010 with Kansas City.
With the White Sox lined up on the top step of the dugout, Humber fell behind 3-and-0 to Michael Saunders leading off the ninth. But he rebounded to strike him out. Former Ray John Jaso then flied out before Brendan Ryan, another pinch-hitter, struck out to end the game.
Ryan took a checked swing and missed at a full-count pitch that was outside and low, but the ball got away from catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Ryan lingered outside the batter's box for a moment, unsure of umpire Brian Runge's call, and Pierzynski fired to first to complete the play. "I don't really want to talk about (the call)," said Ryan, who threw his helmet. "I will say it was a pretty outstanding game he threw."
"I was more nervous than I was in the World Series," said Pierzynski. "There was no build-up for this, it just happened. And you want it so bad for the guy on the mound and you want him to have that achievement forever and you want to have him remembered forever."
Humber — the seventh former Met to pitch a no-hitter after leaving the franchise, which still has none as it plays its 51st season — fell to his knees when it was over, and his teammates rushed to congratulate him.
"I saw it get away from A.J. and saw the umpire ring him up and at that point, a ton of emotions and a lot of joy and excitement," Humber, 29, said. "Most of all, just gratitude. Just thankful for where I'm at."
The 21 perfect games in MLB history with pitcher, team he pitched for and opponent, score, date:
• Phil Humber, Chicago (AL) at Seattle, 4-0, April 21, 2012
• Roy Halladay, Philadelphia at Florida, 1-0, May 29, 2010
• Dallas Braden, Oakland vs. Tampa Bay, 4-0, May 9, 2010
• Mark Buehrle, Chicago (AL) vs. Tampa Bay, 5-0, July 23, 2009
• Randy Johnson, Arizona at Atlanta, 2-0, May 18, 2004
• David Cone, N.Y. (AL) vs. Montreal, 6-0 July 18, 1999
• David Wells, N.Y. (AL) vs. Minnesota, 4-0, May 17, 1998
• Kenny Rogers, Texas vs. California, 4-0, July 28, 1994
• Dennis Martinez, Montreal at L.A., (NL), 2-0, July 28, 1991
• Tom Browning, Cincinnati vs. L.A. (NL) 1-0, Sept. 16, 1988
• Mike Witt, California at Texas, 1-0, Sept. 30, 1984
• Len Barker, Cleveland vs. Toronto, 3-0, May 15, 1981
• Catfish Hunter, Oakland vs. Minnesota, 4-0, May 8, 1968
• Sandy Koufax, L.A. vs. Chicago (NL), 1-0, Sept. 9, 1965
• Jim Bunning, Philadelphia at N.Y. (NL), 6-0, June 21, 1964
• x-Don Larsen, N.Y. (AL) vs. Brooklyn (NL), 2-0, Oct. 8, 1956
• Charles Robertson, Chicago (AL) at Detroit, 2-0, April 30, 1922
•Addie Joss, Cleveland vs. Chicago (AL), 1-0, Oct. 2, 1908
• Cy Young, Boston vs. Philadelphia, (AL), 3-0, May 5, 1904
• John Richmond, Worcester vs. Cleveland (NL), 1-0, June 12, 1880
• John Ward, Providence vs. Buffalo (NL), 5-0, June 17, 1880