SEATTLE — His jersey soaked, his postgame interviews done, Phil Humber took a little walk at empty Safeco Field.
It was about 45 minutes after his final pitch. The Chicago White Sox righty emerged from the dugout and strolled alone toward the left-field fence, where the totals were still showing on the hand-operated scoreboard.
“It’s probably something you’re not going to come by more than once in a lifetime,” Humber said Sunday, a day after he pitched the 21st perfect game in the major leagues and beat Seattle 4-0. “Just trying to take it all in and appreciate it and share it with my teammates.”
“I’m overwhelmed to be a part of history in that way and never thought it would happen to me,” he said.
Humber had plenty of work left to do when he got back to the hotel, too. He returned each of the 100-plus text messages he received. He also listened to the countless phone calls of congratulations, and managed to get to sleep by 1:30 a.m.
Humber was back to work on Sunday, going through his usual post-start routine and getting ready for his next outing, at home against the Boston Red Sox on Thursday.
“I’ve got to pitch in four days. It’s not like the season is over and you can kind of just go home and think about it,” Humber said.
A week ago, Humber was dealing with the heartache of losing his grandfather. He was unable to attend the funeral as his wife, Kristan, is due next month with their first child.
“Last week was kind of a downer for us,” Humber said. “That was tough.”
It hasn’t been an easy road for Humber on the field, either. He’s already on his fourth team in seven years in the majors. He had Tommy John surgery before his major league career even got started and didn’t get a chance to be a starter until his joined the White Sox last season.
“A couple of years ago I didn’t even know if I’d get a major league win,” Humber said.
Now he’s one of just 21 people who can say they’ve pitched a perfect game in the majors.
“It’s been a wild ride but I wouldn’t change any of it, for sure,” Humber said.
Humber was dominant in stifling the Mariners’ bats. He recorded 27 outs on just 96 pitches and faced three-ball counts just twice in the game, both in the ninth inning.
Manager Robin Ventura looked up at the scoreboard during the sixth inning and thought the scoreboard showing the pitch count had to be a mistake. He turned to pitching coach Don Cooper and asked how many Humber had thrown.
“He goes, ‘No, that’s right. It’s 60,’” Ventura said. “He had control. He was jumping ahead strike one. It just seemed like everyone he was jumping ahead with that first strike.”
Humber said he feels as if he’s finally found a home with the White Sox. He made 26 starts for Chicago in 2011 and finished with a 9-9 record and a 3.75 ERA in his first full season in the majors.
“I love it here,” Humber said. “They’ve given me an opportunity when a lot of people had given up on me.”
“It’s a great place to live and hopefully we’ll be here for a long time,” he said.
Humber said he hadn’t yet been contacted by the Hall of Fame. He said he’s not sure what they’ll want him to send from his historic outing.
“Hopefully, I get to keep as much of it as I can,” Humber said. “I doubt I’ll throw one again, so it would be nice to have as much to remember it by as I can.”