Wednesday was the anniversary of the perfect game thrown April 21, 2012, by East Texan and former Major League Baseball player Philip Humber, and the Carthage native is back living in his hometown.
Humber is scheduled as the guest speaker for Best Preps, a live broadcast by M. Roberts Digital that highlights the top student-athletes in East Texas. It’s set to be livestreamed at 6:30 p.m. May 13 at etvarsitybestpreps.com.
Ahead of the event, Humber talked about enjoying life back in East Texas, his family, his job in commercial real estate and speaking at Best Preps.
“I’m not a guy who looks forward to speaking engagements. But when Bret (Jacomet, M. Roberts Media VP of technology) called me and asked me if I could do (Best Preps), this event was something I needed to take advantage of,” Humber said. “I’m very humbled I get the opportunity to speak to these kids. There is no telling what a lot of these kids will end up doing with their lives. They’ve already accomplished remarkable things on the field and in the classroom and the community.”
Humber provided a sneak peak into part of his speech he wants to make to the students, their families and those watching the Best Preps broadcast.
“The message I will try to tell them is to be proud of what you have already accomplished. But also try to remember the people who were around you — your teammates, your coaches, your teachers, your family,” Humber said. “They all play a part in creating an environment that allows you to succeed. The best moments I have in my career and playing sports growing up, I shared with other people.
“Even my perfect game, every player that got into that game made a play in the field. I thought that was one of the coolest things about that. Being able to share that with them, we dog-piled on the field, which doesn’t happen in a regular season game,” Humber continued. “In my career, I never played on a team that went to the playoffs, so that was my one time to experience something like that.”
Humber met his wife, Kristan, in College Station. He went to Rice University and later was drafted No. 3 overall. Humber pitched a complete nine-inning, five-hitter as Rice beat Stanford to win the College World Series.
He played from 2006 to 2013 for five Major League teams with a career record of 16-23.
“The way my career went, I was drafted third overall, Justin Verlander, who was drafted as the second pick that year, is going to go in the Hall of Fame. So I was thinking, ‘I’ll have a Derek Jeter-type career. I’ll play for 20 years and go to the Hall of Fame.’ It did not work out that way for me at all,” Humber said. “But by the time I threw the perfect game, I had already had so many ups and downs. I spent parts of six years in the Major Leagues before 2011 and had not had a full year.
“By the time I got to the White Sox in 2011, I was given up on. I was the only one outside of my wife and my mom and dad who believed in me as a baseball player. Fortunately, I got another opportunity and it all came together on that one day,” Humber said.
And that day was magical against the Seattle Mariners. Nine innings, nine strikeouts, no walks, no hits, no one reached base — 27 up, 27 down on 96 pitches.
“I’m not in the Hall of Fame, but I have something in the Hall of Fame museum, so that is really cool,” Humber said. “For where I came from in certain times in my career, to have achieved that is crazy. But there was a lot of hard work and perseverance to give yourself more opportunities.
“I remember after it happened saying out loud, ‘I don’t know what I am doing on this list. You’ve got Randy Johnson and Sandy Koufax that have done that,’” Humber continued. “My hero growing up was Nolan Ryan (who) had never done that. Seven no-hitters and none of them perfect. So to think a guy like me could do that was pretty hard to comprehend.”
His wife was born in Corsicana and lived briefly in Whitehouse before graduating high school in College Station The family is raising their son, John, in East Texas, and he will turn 9 soon.
That has put a lot into perspective for Humber.
“I have a better perspective than I had 10 years ago. It’s cool to look back on it. I walked away from the game because I hated it, and I hated what it did to me, and it affected a lot of areas of my life,” Humber said. “I was so obsessed with being successful at baseball that I was bitter that I didn’t feel it treated me for as much time and energy I put into it. I felt it took more from me than what I put in.”
He knows that is hard to believe. He said, “I’ve come full-circle with it. I don’t have that same bitterness” toward the game and his career. He said he is enjoying baseball this time around in Carthage.
“It’s funny to hear, ‘But you threw a perfect game! You made the Major Leagues! People don’t get to do those things!’ But it took a toll on me. That’s why I am in real estate, that’s why I didn’t want to coach. I wanted to get as far away from the game as possible,” Humber said. “But I watch baseball. And now, my son is playing baseball. Whatever he does, I’m going to support him 100 percent. It gives me an opportunity to be around sports and remember what’s good about it — being around their friends.
“Even on an 8-year-old baseball team, you see each kid has a strength and personality, but they all help each other and that’s the value of sports,” Humber continued. “If you play professionally, that’s great. But if you are involved, the true value is the shared experience of everyone using their gifts in different ways together.”