We have all seen the footage, Yogi Berra leaping into Don Larsen’s arms after his Perfect Game during the 1956 World Series. But for New York Yankees fans, there is something extra special about the monumental performance.
That is because it came against the arch-rival Brooklyn Dodgers. Up they came and down they went. Jim Gilliam, Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider, Jackie Robinson, Gil Hodges, Sandy Amoros, Carl Furillo, Roy Campanella and Sal Maglie.
When pinch hitter Dale Mitchell stepped to the plate with two out in the ninth, Yankees fans were going wild. The Bombers hadn’t exactly knocked the cover off the ball themselves that day, an RBI by Hank Bauer and a home run by Mickey Mantle provided the only two runs of the game. In all, the Yankees managed only five hits off of Maglie, who pitched eight strong innings of his own.
Baseball purists know that a high scoring battle can be exciting, but there is nothing like a pitchers dual to cause you to chew your nails off. So when the Dodgers’ Dale Mitchell pinch hit with two outs in the ninth, the 64,519 came to their feet to witness history. And when Mitchell made the final out, Yankee Stadium was rocking. Berra charged Larsen and leaped into his arms.
Mantle said, “The biggest game I ever played in was probably Don Larsen’s perfect game.”
Manager Casey Stengel remembered it this way. “I never had so many assistant managers in my life. Every time Larsen got ready to throw a pitch, the guys on the bench were hollering out to the fielders, telling them where they should play the hitters.”
But Larsen didn’t mind any of it. “I’m not what you call a real praying man,” he said. “But out there I said to myself, ‘Help me out somebody.’”
And you know how Yogi felt about it. You never can get too much help. Because it just ain’t over till it’s over.
So Larsen’s perfect game is number seven in our Top Ten Most Memorable Moments in New York Yankees History. It joins Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit, Reggie Jackson’s three homers in a World Series game, and our celebration of Thurman Munson.
Up next on Yanks Go Yard, memorable moment number six.