DETROIT—Following a phone call home Monday, Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander said that he hadn’t even bothered to explain the difference between a no-hitter and a perfect game to his parents, claiming that going into the various details would be more trouble than it was worth.
“Obviously one’s better than the other—one is perfect—but no matter how many times I try to tell them that a no-hitter is also a pretty amazing accomplishment, they just don’t get it,” Verlander told reporters. “What’s worse is that they pretend they’re really proud, and in some ways they are, but I can tell by the tone of their voice that it’s forced. I know if I told them I threw a perfect game they would be genuinely ecstatic, even though they have no clue what that means. They just know the word ‘perfect’ is before ‘game.’”
“When I eventually told them that, yes, a perfect game is ultimately more impressive, they said, ‘Have you ever tried doing that?’” Verlander continued. “I love them like crazy, but sometimes I don’t know why I bother trying to share my life with them.”
A frustrated Verlander, who threw his second career no-hitter last Saturday against the Toronto Blue Jays, said his parents Richard and Kathy had asked if he would be receiving some kind of promotion for his accomplishment, if this meant he would finally be allowed to hit during the games, if he would have received a promotion had he thrown a perfect game instead, why he “slacks off” and throws some pitches slower than others, and whether or not he needed any money.
When Verlander once again explained that it is very hard to throw a no-hitter and that every pitcher dreams of throwing one, his mother and father reportedly said, “That’s nice, Justin. We love and support you no matter what you do.”
“I should have hung up the phone right there, but instead I brought up how proud Coach Leyland was of me, and then they started in with, if he’s so proud, maybe he should let me pitch more than once every five days,” Verlander said. “At least my brother gets what I do. He’s cool.”
Several times throughout the conversation, an exasperated Verlander attempted to explain that just because a ball is hit to the second baseman doesn’t mean an actual hit is recorded—an explanation his father rejected out of hand, insisting that it “sure looked like a hit to [him].” In addition, Verlander’s mother asked her son if the one walk he allowed was indicative of a larger problem he wasn’t telling his parents about.
Verlander’s mother also questioned whether her son was happy.
“She thought I looked too serious out there and that it seemed like I wasn’t having any fun,” Verlander said. “I told her that I’m fine, but then she went on about how I shouldn’t be embarrassed if I wanted to start over with a more fulfilling career. Then she said it might help to talk to my uncle who used to play baseball.”
“Christ, he played one year of JV in high school,” Verlander added.
Verlander, who signed a five-year, $80 million contract extension in 2010, told reporters his parents had never really understood his job as a starting pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, and said they would only be truly proud of him if he played for the New York Yankees.
“Their eyes light up at the mention of the New York Yankees. My mom will say something about how Dad just read in an article that the Yankees want to improve their pitching, and then she’ll ask if that’s something I could apply for,” Verlander said. “Over and over she says how it can’t hurt to call them. And that the next time we play the Yankees, I should make my presence known by giving them my business card, a cover letter, and a resumé.”
“I tried to tell her that the Tigers were a really good baseball team with a rich history, but then she asked if it was as rich as the Yankees’,” Verlander added with a sigh. “It’s really fucking annoying when she’s right.”
Before Verlander hung up the phone, his mother reportedly asked her son if he was eating properly, and if she could just tell her friends that he threw a perfect game anyway.