Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Vassallo: Don Larsen Has a Perfect Game

courtesy  of Nate D. Sanders
courtesy of Nate D. Sanders

October 8, 1956 will be a date baseball fans will never forget.

I was in the fourth grade and faked an illness so that I could stay home that eventful day. In that era all World Series games were played in the daytime. The 1956 series was the last one in which there were no scheduled off days. This was primarily due to both teams, the Yankees and the Dodgers, being in the same city.

The game was very tense. Only once, in the first inning against Pee Wee Reese, did Larsen go to three balls on a batter. Yogi Berra, number 8, was Larsen’s battery mate that day. Yogi called an incredible game that day.

The famous umpire, Babe Pinelli, was behind the plate and made two key calls. The first occurred in the fourth inning regarding a fair or foul homerun by Duke Snider. The second was the called last strike (and final pitch of the game) to number 8 Dale Mitchell. Both went in favor of the Yankees.

There were also two great defensive plays by the Yankees. Mickey Mantle made a great running catch to left center that Enos Slaughter could not get to and shortstop Gil McDougald made a great throw from the hole to prevent an infield hit.

The Yankee manager was Casey Stengel (the ole professor, a nickname he rec’d from coaching at Ole Miss). Casey was asked after the game if this was Larsen’s greatest outing. Casey’s response was priceless: “It is so far.”

The Yankees needed this game desperately as the series was tied at two going into this game five.

One of my favorite trivia questions is to ask Yankee/baseball fans to name the Yankee lineup that day. We have already mentioned five of the nine as there were no DH’s in that period. Andy Carey was at third; Billy Martin at second; Joe Collins at first; and Hank Bauer in right. Mantle also hit a homerun in the game with no one on.

Upon returning to school the next day, my teacher (Mrs. Duncan) asked me if I was feeling better, knowing how much I loved the Yankees. I told her that around 3 p.m. the day before, my fever disappeared, along with the Dodger threat! Thank God I had understanding parents!

No perfect game had ever been thrown in a World Series game prior or since this historical outing by Larsen. The Yankees enjoy retiring jerseys. Number 18 should be added to the list. It’s impossible to improve upon perfection.


Steve Vassallo

Steve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. In addition, he is a certified economic and community developer and currently, a highly successful leader in the real estate business with Premier Properties of Oxford.You can contact Steve at sovassallo@gmail.com or call him at (985) 852-7745.

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