Saturday, January 3, 2009

Still Perfect After All These Years

One of my buddies called last night to tell me the Major League Baseball channel was going to show a kinescope of Don Larson's perfect game in the 1956 World Series. Well, I ran upstairs and fired up the recorder so I could watch the entire game another time.

I missed the original as a 7th grader at George Gershwin JHS in East New York. We had transistor radios but all I remember was we were halfway home when someone said he was pitching a perfect game. I was pretty concerned with the game itself after the horrifying loss to the Dodgers the year before. And the Yanks lost the first 2 games in Ebbetts Field before coming back to win the next two. So game 5 was critical.

But we didn't have all that much confidence in Larsen. He was known for his unique no-windup pitching style even when men weren't on base. The papers said it gave him better control. I think he came to the Yanks around the same time as Bob Turley, who for a while seemed to be their best pitcher.

A Yankee fan living in Brooklyn was not too cool. I wanted a deep blue Yankee jacket desperately but when we went to buy one my mother said she didn't like the dark blue and why don't I get that other lighter blue jacket. Which just happened to say DODGERS on it. So I was a Yankee fan walking around in a Dodger jacket. But it saved me from getting beaten up a lot.

1956 was a very special year because Mickey had won the Triple Crown. It was the first year I started going to games even though the Stadium was quite a schlep from East NY by subway.
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I finally went up to catch the last few innings. Bob Costas was moderating a discussion between innings with Yogi and Larson. As Larson started pitching the 8th I was nervous. Would Carl Furrillo break up the perfect game? Wait a minute. Am I crazy? I think I already know the ending.

So as we go to the last of the 9th, why am I sweating? Roy Campanella is batting 8th? Weird. And look at the names that are popping up. Snider, Campy, Maglie, Reese, Gilliam, Robinson, Mantle, Berra, Rizuto, Billy Martin, Bauer - my glove was a Hank Bauer model. If not for this game, Larson would be the most forgettable person on the field.

Well, the good news is that Larson did pitch the perfect game, though my imagination soared over the idea of what if Dale Mitchell as the last batter got a hit?

Had I become part of the annual New Year's Twilight Zone marathon?

5 comments:

  1. I really aprecciate to read your blog. We here from Brazil have learned a lot from your posts. When is possible take a look mine Curso de Informática à Distância. Antonio B Duarte Jr.Happy 2009!!!

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  2. A great game, did you see the Mick slam one off Sal the Barber bottom of the 4th? The old stadium was the best ever. I hope they show the playoff game Dodgers/Giants 1951 in its entirety. This channel will ease the pain of working for the doe.

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  3. While you were a Yankee fan living in Brooklyn, Norm, my family were Dodger fans living in the Bronx. My parents hated the Yankees because they were about the last team to integrate. My first baseball memory was my parents cheering Mazeroski's homer in'60, though by '61 I was cheering Maris and Mantle and my father's stance softened enough to take me to games at Yankee Stadium that year. Interestingly, in the Larsen game, you can see Elston Howard warming up Larsen at one point while Yogi apparently putting on his gear. That was, I guess, the year they finally integrated.

    FYI, there are two '52 World Series games available on ITunes, game 6 and 7, Yankees vs. Brooklyn.

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  4. Thanks Gary. I still have to watch the rest of the game and am looking forward to seeing The Mick hit that homer.

    Did your mom make you wear a Yankee jacket because of the color? I bet not. I attribute my trouble making mentality to that event.

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