Little Bits of History

Perfect

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 8, 2014
Don Larson's perfect game

Don Larson’s perfect game

October 8, 1956: Don Larson pitches a perfect game. Larson was born in Michigan City, Indiana in 1929. The family moved to San Diego, California in 1944 and Larsen played both basketball and baseball in high school there. He was offered several college scholarships for basketball. Larsen played for the local American Legion’s baseball team and was spotted by St. Louis Browns scout, Art Schwartz. Larsen signed with one of the minor league teams in 1947 rather than go to college. He played with the Aberdeen Pheasants that year and appeared in 16 games. He stayed for the next season and won 17 games. In 1949, he moved up classes but remained in the minors. He was drafted in 1951 during the Korean War and served in a number of non-combat jobs.

Larsen made his Major League Baseball debut on April 17, 1953 when he pitched five innings for the St. Louis Browns. At the end of his rookie year, he had a 7-12 record and a 4.16 ERA. He also pitched 96 strikeouts in 38 games, having started 22 of them. Unfortunately, he also allowed the most hits with 202. For the 1954 season, the Browns moved and became the Baltimore Orioles. His stats that year were 3-21 and 80 strikeouts in 29 games. Two of Larsen’s three wins that year were against the New York Yankees, including a 10-0 shutout on July 30, his last win of the year. The Orioles only won 54 games that year and were in seventh place. The Yankees had won 103 but were still only in second behind the Cleveland Indians.

George Weiss blamed the 1954 season’s second place on aging pitching staff. He brought Larsen over for the 1955 season. He played there until 1949 and went 45-24 during his five seasons. He was starting pitcher 90 times and backup pitcher 128. In 1956, the Yankees made it to the World Series. On this day, they were playing Game 5 at Yankee Stadium against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Larsen had started pitching in Game 2 and only lasted 1.2 innings which didn’t stop the Yankees from losing the 13-8 game. He only gave up one hit, but he had walked four batters in that short time.

For Game 5, Larsen was back on the mound and completed the game with just 97 pitches. Only one Dodger batter, Pee Wee Reese, was able to get a 3-ball count. Larsen pitched the only perfect game in a World Series. He pitched the only perfect postseason game, a record that stood until 2010. The closest moment to losing this honor came in the fifth inning when Gil Hodges hit a line drive which was miraculously caught by center fielder Mickey Mantle who made a spectacular running catch. Mantle also scored the first of two runs which snagged the win for the Yankees. Perfectly pitched games are such a rarity that they have only happened 23 times in MLB history (21 times in the modern era).

When it was over, I was so happy, I felt like crying. I wanted to win this one for Casey (Stengel). After what I did in Brooklyn, he could have forgotten about me and who would blame him? But he gave me another chance and I’m grateful. – Don Larsen

Sometimes a week might go by when I don’t think about that game, but I don’t remember when it happened last. – Don Larsen

No, why should I? – Don Larsen when asked if he is tired of speaking about his perfect game

The Yankees have all the hits in the game. – Mel Allen dealing with the sportscasting taboo of speaking openly about a no-hitter

Also on this day: Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow – In 1871, the Great Chicago Fire began to burn.
Opium – In 1856, the Second Opium War began.
Signatures – In 1793, John Hancock died.
Fog – In 2001, fog was a factor in a horrific plane crash.

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One Response

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  1. vanbraman said, on October 9, 2014 at 12:48 am

    Thanks for the reminder of the anniversary. Here is what I wrote last year: http://bramanswanderings.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/the-perfect-game/


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