Thomas Diamond will definitely remember Father's Day 2005, a start that earned him the award for MiLB.com's Class A Best Single-Game Performance.
On June 19, the Bakersfield Blaze right-hander fell just a single short of pitching a perfect game and matched his career high with 14 strikeouts in a 9-0 blanking of the High Desert Mavericks.
That outing was reminiscent of the last time Diamond pitched on Father's Day in 2003, when he tossed a no-hitter in a summer league game.
"Before I went into the game, I was talking to my parents on the phone. My mom told me, 'Your dad won't accept anything but what you gave him last time you pitched on Father's Day,'" Diamond said. "I told him I'll see what I can do."
If not for a one-out third-inning single up the middle by Jared Price, Diamond would have given his father that gift. Price was immediately erased on a strikeout-pickoff double play.
Diamond cruised from there against one of the hottest-hitting teams in the California League. High Desert finished first in the league in hits, runs, homers and RBIs, but it only managed to hit four balls out of the infield that day. Warming up prior to the game, Diamond didn't think he had a gem in him.
"I really had to focus in on every pitch because I didn't have my stuff," Diamond said. "Before the game, I was throwing in the bullpen, and I was like, 'If I throw like this, I'm going to get my butt handed to me.' But those are usually the days when things work out the best for you because you do focus in more and every pitch you are locked in."
Diamond's start also acted as a springboard, raising his record his record to 8-0 and lowering his ERA to 1.99, earning him a promotion to Double-A Frisco.
"I showed up at the field the next day and our coaches called me into the office and they said to go grab a ball off a locker," Diamond said. "The ball said Frisco and the date, which turned out to be my first start in Double-A."
It also helped the Texas Rangers' 2004 first-round pick deal with adversity in Frisco as he compiled a 5-4 record and a 5.35 ERA in 14 starts with the RoughRiders.
"I went back to that game any time I had struggles in Double-A," Diamond said. "I recalled those good moments to get through tough starts or a tough inning."
He also remembered a worthwhile suggestion from his father. "As soon as the game was over, I called my dad up and he said, 'You have to pitch on every Father's Day now.'"
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.