Before and After Don Larsen

– Observations by JP Stanco

Sandy Koufax didn’t do it. Greg Maddux didn’t do it.  Tom The Franchise Seaver never did it.

Negative for Jim Palmer and Juan Marichal the Dominican Dandy. Warren Spahn won 20 games 13 times(!) and 363 games overall,  but he didn’t do it.  Two of the greatest post season pitchers of all time, Whitey Ford and Bob Gibson won 17 world series games between them, but they didn’t do it either.

dConsider that Grover Cleveland Alexander, Lefty Grove, and The Big Train Walter Johnson never did it, nor did Cy Young. Even Christy Mathewson, the man who threw 3 shutouts in the 1905 World Series for the then-New York Giants against the then-Philadelphia A’s, never did it either. By the time Bob Feller turned 21, he had 82 major league wins under his belt.  And you guessed it, he never did it either.

Cy YoungIn In In fact, all these hurlers are all Hall of Famers who starred in MLB’s fall classic, racking up world series games, victories, strikeouts. But not one of them ever did what Don Larsen did.

 

Don Larsen as a St. Louis Brown

Perfecto! On The Biggest Stage of All.

With an 81-91 record, Don Larsen will never make the Hall of Fame, and yet pitching a perfect game on the highest stage could easily be the single greatest feat ever accomplished on a Major League baseball diamond.

Long live Don Larsen.

27 up. 27 down.

It was October 8, 1956. Rivalry of the 1955 World Series winning Brooklyn Dodgers (aka Dem Bumz) against the 1955 World Series losing Bronx Bomber New York Yankees, Tied two games apiece.

It was more than that actually. It was a rivalry between the two greatest teams of the era, or arguably of any era. The powerhouse Yankees of Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Moose Skowron, Hank Bauer, Elston Howard, Billy Martin and Phil Rizzuto,  against the powerhouse Brooklyn Dodgers of Duke Snider, Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese and Carl Furillo and of course, #42, Jackie Robinson. Dodger righty Sal The Barber Maglie, against whom no one ever dug in, give up just 5 hits, walked 2 and struck out 5 in 8 innings.

Memories of Mantle homering off Maglie with two outs, Hank Bauer knocking in the other run, and lifetime .312 hitter Dale Mitchell pinch hitting and looking at a called third strike called by famed ump Babe Pinelli last forever on film and old still photos. 2-0 was the final score. But it was Don Larsen’s moment of the ages.

In the HOF

In all, fifteen Hall of Famers* were involved in that World Series but none accomplished what Don Larsen did on October 8, 1956 after his usual night of partying. Casey played his hunch.  His hunch paid off. They usually did, but never like this.

And to magnify the accomplishment of a perfect game, especially back then, one has to appreciate that Larsen’s gem for the ages was also the only perfect game in the majors… not just that year…not just that decade… but it was the only perfect game in the 42 years between Chisox hurler Charley Robertson’s 1922 gem against the Tigers and Ty Cobb, fellow Hall of Famer Harry Heilmann and lifetime .310 hitter Bobby Veach…and Jim Bunning’s Father’s Day perfecto against the Amazin’ Mets on  June 21, 1964!

Thanks for memories Don Larsen. You being to history.

*All told the Hall of Famers  on the roster totaled 15: Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Phil Rizzuto, Enos Slaughter, Whitey Ford, Casey Stengel, Coach Bill Dickey, Duke Snider, Roy Campanella, Jackie Robinson,  Walter Alston, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, utility man Dick Williams and Coach Billy Herman.