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Dewayne Wise's catch saves Mark Buehrle's perfect game

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mark-buehrle-perfect-game.jpgIt looked like Mark Buehrle was going to fall three outs shy of perfection when Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Gabe Kapler blasted a ball to deep left center to lead off the ninth inning. But, it turns out a Wise defensive decision by manager Ozzie Guillen saved the day and preserved just the 18th perfect game in major league history.

Dewayne Wise, who had just taken over in center field for Scott Podsednik, made one of the most spectacular and meaningful catches in White Sox history -- a wall-crashing, ball-juggling masterpiece destined for endless replay to keep the game blemish-free.

"It's probably the best catch I ever made because of the meaning of the game," Wise said.

All those who weren't sure if he was going to hang on are in good company. He wasn't so sure either.
"I knew I had a shot," Wise said of his dead sprint to the wall and subsequent collision. "I didn't realize the ball was in my glove until as I was falling. That's when it started to come out. When I hit the wall, the ball kind of hit my glove at the same time, so I couldn't really feel it."

Wise somehow had the presence of mind to corral the ball with his bare hand before it fell and Buehrle retired the next two Rays hitters to complete the rare feat.

After talking with bench coach Joey Cora, Guillen decided to insert Wise to get a little bit more range in the outfield.

"At least I get the monkey off my back," Guillen said. "This kid do something good for the organization. Now people can smile about it. We keep him for a reason. He just make the nice play and I think it is one of the best plays I've seen -- especially in that situation.
"

Wise, who many have seen as less gifted defensively than Brian Anderson, entered the game batting just .196 on the year and has been the recipient of some boos at home. When Anderson was sent down to Triple-A Charlotte earlier this week, there was even some rumblings that the decision had been race-related.

But none of that mattered on Thursday, as Wise emerged as an unlikely hero. He attributed his readiness to make the big play in the big spot to his anticipation.

 "It seems like any time you come in the game late, that ball always finds you," he said. "When the ball was hit, I told myself, 'you've got to do whatever it takes to catch this ball.'"

In the clubhouse after the game, several White Sox players crowded around the television to watch the play over and over, seemingly mesmerized by the moment.

"Incredible," said Jim Thome. "Another guy that gives to the game. These guys are always working to get ready to come in the game. And when you do that, and are prepared, it pays off. Whenever you're a defensive replacement, the ball finds you. It always happens, the ball is going to find you. And I'll tell you what, I've seen [Kenny] Lofton make some tremendous catches, but that is as good as I've seen. It gives me goosebumps."

Wise said that Buehrle thanked him with a hug after the game, but the Rays' Pat Burrell had other ideas.

"He might wake up tomorrow with a new car in his driveway," he joked.

Contributing: Chris De Luca

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This page contains a single entry by Kyle Koster published on July 23, 2009 5:39 PM.

Tim Tebow a virgin: A fact that's none of our business was the previous entry in this blog.

Mark Buehrle's perfect game: Lifelong White Sox fan Mike Hall reflects on the moment is the next entry in this blog.

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