Just in as a defensive replacement, White Sox center fielder DeWayne Wise sprinted toward the fence in left-center. What happened next would be either a moment of baseball magic or the ninth-inning end of Buehrle's bid for perfection against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Wise jumped and extended his right arm above the top of the 8-foot wall. The ball landed in his glove's webbing but then popped out for a split second as he was caroming off the wall and stumbling on the warning track. Wise grabbed it with his bare left hand, fell to the ground and rolled. He bounced up, proudly displaying the ball for the crowd.
Magic. A home run turned into an out.
His biggest threat behind him, Buehrle closed out the 18th perfect game in major league history, a 5-0 victory Thursday.
"I was hoping it was staying in there, give him enough room to catch it. I know the guys were doing everything they could to save the no-hitter, the perfect game, whatever it might be," Buehrle said.
Wise knew the stakes.
"I was with the Braves in '04 and I was there when Randy Johnson of the Diamondbacks pitched a perfect game. So I've been on both sides of it," he said. "It was probably the best catch I've ever made because of the circumstances."
Buehrle fell behind 3-1 in the count to Michel Hernandez, the second batter in the ninth, who took a called strike and then swung and missed at strike three.
With fans chanting Buehrle's name, Jason Bartlett got ahead 2-1, then grounded to shortstop Alexei Ramirez, who threw to first baseman Josh Fields. Buehrle put both hands on his head and was mobbed by teammates between the mound and first base.
"Never thought I'd throw a no-hitter, never thought I'd throw a perfect game, never thought I'd hit a home run," said Buehrle, who has done all three. "Never say never in this game because crazy stuff can happen."
The pitcher received a congratulatory telephone call from President Barack Obama -- a White Sox fan -- after the 16th perfect game since the modern era began in 1900 and the first since Johnson's on May 18, 2004.
"I bought everyone watches after the last one. That was an expensive no-hitter," Buehrle said. "This one will probably be more expensive."
- July 23, 2009: Mark Buehrle*, Chicago White Sox 5, Tampa Bay 0
- May 18, 2004: Randy Johnson*, Arizona 2, Atlanta 0
- July 18, 1999: David Cone, N.Y. Yankees 6, Montreal 0
- May 17, 1998: David Wells, N.Y. Yankees 4, Minnesota 0
- July 28, 1991: Dennis Martinez, Montreal 2, L.A. Dodgers 0
- Sept. 16, 1988: Tom Browing, Cincinnati 1, L.A. Dodgers 0
- July 28, 1994: Kenny Rogers, Texas 4, California 0
- Sept. 30, 1984: Mike Witt, California 1, Texas 0
- May 15, 1981: Len Barker, Cleveland 3, Toronto 0
- May 08, 1968: Catfish Hunter, Oakland 4, Minnesota 0
- Sept. 9, 1965: Sandy Koufax*, L.A. Dodgers 1, Chicago Cubs 0
- June 21, 1964: Jim Bunning*, Philadelphia 6, N.Y. Mets 0
- Oct. 8, 1956: Don Larsen, N.Y. Yankees 2, Brooklyn 0*
- April 30, 1922: Charlie Robertson, Chicago White Sox 2, Detroit 0
- Oct. 2, 1908: Addie Joss*, Cleveland 1, Chicago White Sox 0
- May 5, 1904: Cy Young*, Boston 3, Philadelphia 0
- June 17, 1880: Monte Ward, Providence 5, Buffalo 0
- June 12, 1880: Lee Richmond, Worcester 1, Cleveland 0
*Only pitchers with no-hitters and perfect games
**Game 5 of World Series