One was a 5'9", 140-pound soft-tosser who lived on the black. The
other's a 6-foot, 220-pound flamethrower. But John Rickert, 39,
and his 18-year-old son, Mike, a senior pitcher at Bowler (Wis.)
High School have at least one thing in common: On April 22
against nearby Iola-Scandinavia High, Mike threw a perfect
game--just as John did ... while pitching for Bowler High ...
against Iola-Scandinavia ... for the same coach, Raymond Murphy
... 22 years ago ... to the day. "I was so wrapped up in the
game, it didn't really occur to me," says John, who serves as
Bowler's assistant coach when not running the family meat-packing
plant. "Back when I did it, I didn't even know what a perfect
game was." Mike, too, was unaware of his perfection until late in
the game, when, he says, "I realized I hadn't pitched from the
stretch all day." The two call it a "once-in-a-lifetime thing,"
which is more than astute readers of the local paper could say.
After both perfect games the Shawano Leader ran stories under the
prosaic headline: RICKERT HURLS PERFECT GAME. The coincidence
wasn't discovered until the following day by John's wife (and
Mike's mother), Cheryl, who noticed the same date on the framed
clipping of John's perfecto.
Unlike the men in her life, Cheryl, who charts Mike's every
pitch, sensed "something special" happening as she watched Mike
strike out 12 batters. Still, with a Devil Rays scout in
attendance--Mike's also been scouted by Milwaukee and
Philadelphia, though he may take his low-90s fastball to UW
Stevens Point next year--only once did she worry. "Their number 9
hitter was barely four feet tall, and I didn't think Mike would
find his strike zone," she says. "Mike told me afterward that he
was scared he might kill the kid." --Josh Elliott
COLOR PHOTO: CHERYL RICKERT PITCHIN' IMAGE Mike (left) emulated his dad in more ways than oneagainst Iola-Scandinavia.
TWO B/W PHOTOS