McKinney: Quick Hitter

Oct. 07, 2013 @ 11:31 PM

Fifty-seven years ago today, an unlikely Yankees’ pitcher tossed one of the most improbable perfect games in baseball history.

Don Larsen was the epitome of the journeyman Major League hurler. He posted an 81-91 record with seven different teams in a 15-year big-league career.

But on Oct. 8, 1956, Larsen delivered World Series perfection.

Larsen started Game 5 against the Brooklyn Dodgers. In Game 2, he lasted just one and two-thirds innings in a 13-8 loss.

Game 5 proved a different story.

Larsen needed just 97 pitches to retire all 27 Dodgers in a 2-0 win. Pee Wee Reese in the first inning was the only Brooklyn batter to reach a three-ball count.

Mickey Mantle’s homer in the fourth broke the scoreless tie and gave Larsen all the run support he’d need to make history.

Larsen, who earned World Series MVP honors as the Yankees took the Fall Classic in seven games, remained the only pitcher in postseason history with a no-hit game until the Phillies’ Roy Halladay no-hit the Reds on October 6, 2010, in Game 1 of the National League Division Series.

No disrespect to Halladay, but his no-no pales in comparison to Larsen. The Phillies did not even advance to the World Series that year.

Larsen’s perfect game remains the postseason pitching performance against which all others are measured.

— Mark McKinney

ENTERPRISE SPORTS EDITOR