There are few sports feats that are as rare as a perfect game in baseball. 18 up, 18 down, no hits, no runners on base, no runs.
Even more rare than a perfect game—a “perfect-perfect” game. No putouts, no assists. A game where no ball is even put into play.
For those keeping track, yes, that means 18 strikeouts.
What is believed to be the first ever “perfect-perfect” game in Little League Baseball® history came almost 63 years ago, on July 14, 1954, when Donn Goodwin, then a 12-year-old pitcher in the Back Mountain Little League of Dallas, Pa., struck out every batter he faced.
“To me, it was just a typical Little League game and as the game progressed I started to realize that we were playing really fantastic ball,” Mr. Goodwin said. “When the game was finally over and we realized what we did, I was so excited and so overcome with emotion that I was crying happy tears at that point. It was a special time and everybody had come out and was cheering me and patting me on the back. It was pretty neat.”
Mr. Goodwin, 76, will soon be moving to Virginia from his current residence in Florida, but the ball from his perfect-perfect game has been on display at the World of Little League Museum since February, along with the ball from another no-hitter he had pitched earlier in that season. The no-hitter was the first such game in Mr. Goodwin’s local Little League’s history and came on his Trucksville team’s way to a division championship that year.
“When I was sending them up, I was really excited about it,” Mr. Goodwin said. “It’s kind of funny that after 60-something years to think that an achievement is that important, it makes you feel good as you get older because people don’t think of your achievements when you’re older like I am. It’s kind of special.”
Soon after the perfect-perfect game, Mr. Goodwin received a personal letter from Little League founder and then-Commissioner of Little League Baseball, Carl Stotz, congratulating him. It was when Mr. Goodwin recently found the letter again that he reached out to Little League and was asked by Little League Vice President and Executive Director of the Museum, Lance Van Auken, if he wanted to donate the ball to be put on display.
Just months after the ball arrived at the World of Little League Museum, Mr. Goodwin was invited to see his ball on display as he joined members of the current Back Mountain Little League program in Williamsport. As part of the visit, Mr. Goodwin spoke with the group of Little Leaguers® before heading down to Howard J. Lamade Stadium to play catch with the league.
“It’s hard to imagine that more than 60 years ago, as a 12-year-old, I had this accomplishment striking out 18 batters, so to me and my teammates, it’s a real honor and it’s something that can carry over into history when these kids come here and see what can be accomplished when you work hard, are dedicated, and stay with it,” said Mr. Goodwin. “These parents, coaches, and kids didn’t need to come down here and support me, but they did out of respect for our team and what we accomplished, that was incredible. It was really emotional for me.”
After Little League, Mr. Goodwin played high school baseball and then college ball, playing for both Wingate Junior College (currently Wingate University) and Appalachian State. He also played on various Single A semi-pro teams in the areas that he was living in. Mr. Goodwin has remained involved in Little League as well since his playing days. He volunteered when his son was growing up and playing, and even spent time as a Little League umpire.