By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL/Designated Writers
I was negative three years old when Don Larsen pitched the only perfect game in World Series history, so it’s not like it’s one of my greatest sports memories. But 63 years after the fact — the anniversary was Tuesday — it’s still pretty darned significant.
The New York Yankees won Game 5 of the 1956 World Series 2-0 over Brooklyn and the next day, Joe Trimble of the New York Daily News wrote the famous line “The imperfect man pitched a perfect game yesterday.” Larsen was never a great pitcher — his career record was 81-91 and pitched for eight different teams during his 15-year career — and was described as “an affable, nerveless man who laughs his way through life, (who) doesn’t know how to worry.” Good thing, because there was plenty to worry about.
Larsen had been knocked out in the second inning of Game 2 only three days earlier, so it wasn’t like anyone saw this one coming.
His perfect game was the first in 34 years and there have only been 20 in the history of major league baseball. The closest anyone has come to matching Larsen (if you can call this close) is Roy Halladay, who pitched a no-hitter in 2010 in the National League Division Series. That’s not a perfect game and that’s not the World Series
But if you ever wanted to know how baseball has changed in those 63 years, consider:
** To start with, Larsen pitched a complete game. You know how many complete games have been pitched in the World Series this century? Five (and none since 2015). Don’t look for another any time soon.
** There were 64,519 fans at Yankee Stadium. That’s about 10,000 more seats than any park in MLB these days.
** The time of the game was 2:06. That’ll get you about five innings these days.
Larsen is still alive at age 90 and I’m proud to say I have his autograph on a copy of a picture of him throwing a pitch with the Yankee Stadium scoreboard full of zeros in the background.
His perfection lives on today.