Yankees' Kyle Higashioka the real hero of Domingo Germán's perfect game

America's Catcher deserved a second shot at history.
New York Yankees v Oakland Athletics
New York Yankees v Oakland Athletics / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages

Let's get this out, right at the top: Yankees backup catcher Kyle Higashioka earned himself a lifetime of financial security last night.

Despite proving himself as a valued contributor since 2018, he'll never secure a long-term contract. Despite making Team USA's World Baseball Classic roster this past spring, he'll never weigh multi-year offers when he leaves the Yankees. But, as of June 28, 2023, Higashioka will henceforth be known as the man behind the plate for Domingo Germán's perfect game in Oakland, the 24th in MLB history.

When Higashioka is 30 years past retirement, the Steiner Sports of the world will still be calling. When Higashioka has hung up everything but the pen, he'll still be able to travel the circuit, potentially by Germán's side, signing glistening photos of his younger self. When Higashioka, in the future, needs a reminder of his own abilities, he won't have to search very far.

Forever, Higashioka will have this moment in history, a sprint up the first base line, captured succinctly. The 27th out of 27 outs, hustling to back up the play in fear of a potential Josh Donaldson overthrow. Three hours in the crouch. 99 scrutinized decisions. Perfection.

Yankees catcher Kyle Higashioka catches first perfect game, second no-hitter

Higashioka is the textbook definition of a backup catcher, but his ability to embody the role should allow him plenty of opportunities to play his career year-to-year as time marches on. He will be able to latch on in late winter, sifting through a pile of spring training invites.

He may never be a star, but it took a star's work ethic to get him here. MLB's most iconic names started with gobs of raw talent and worked endlessly to chisel themselves into elite talents. Higashioka? He started with receiving skills and very little else, working just as hard mid-career (and post-surgery) to get his bat to an acceptable place and his footwork to an immaculate level.

And it worked. Higashioka could've been forgotten roster chum 15 different times along the way. Instead, he's become Corey Kluber's no-hitter steward and Germán's perfect game guide over a two-year span.

Higashioka will never have the most natural talent in any room he's in until his baseball career has ended -- and, even then, at most autograph shows, he'll probably rest comfortably in the lower percentile.

But he'll still be able to catch for many years to come. And, after that, he'll still be able to tour.

Following Wednesday's game, Germán made certain to pose with the entire roster while the gathered mob of photographers tried to snap as many pictures as they could of just he and Higgy. It was a kind gesture, but those who know the game know that the initial pictures will be the ones that stand the test of time. The celebration. The disbelief. The embrace. Higashioka was there for all of it. Higashioka helped create all of it. He, too, is now timeless, just a few years after it seemed his time was up.