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October 08

New York Yankees' Don Larsen pitches only World Series perfect game

On Oct. 8, 1956, Don Larsen of the New York Yankees throws the only perfect game in World Series history. "I was so happy. I felt like crying," he tells reporters after New York's 2-0 win in Game 5 over the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Yankees go on to win the World Series in seven games.

By 1956, Larsen had pitched for three teams in four seasons, the low point being his 3-21 won-loss record with the lowly Baltimore Orioles in 1954. Although he settled down in New York—he was a combined 20-7 in 1955 and 1956—Larsen did not pitch well in Game 2 of the 1956 Series. In the second inning at Ebbets Field, the Dodgers knocked Larsen from the game in their 13-8 win.

Larsen didn't know he would start Game 5 three days later until he found a fresh baseball in one of his cleats in the locker room—that was Yankees manager Casey Stengel's way of telling a pitcher that it was his day to pitch.

Not all his teammates were confident.

"I went up to (third base coach) Frankie (Crosetti), and I said, 'Who's pitching today?'" Yankees' right fielder Hank Bauer recalled in the 2003 documentary, 100 Years of the World Series. "He said 'Larsen.' I said 'Oh, God. Larsen.'"

Over two hours, six minutes and 97 pitches, Larsen retired all 27 batters. On a 1-2 pitch, he struck out Dale Mitchell to end the game and catcher Yogi Berra raced toward Larsen, jumping into his arms. The scene was captured in an iconic image. 

Larsen's perfect game was the only postseason no-hitter until 2010, when Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies no-hit the Cincinnati Reds in Game 1 of the National League Division Series.

Larsen pitched 14 seasons in the big leagues, finishing his career in 1967 with an 81-91 record. He died at age 90 on Jan. 1, 2020. 

READ MORE: World Series broadcast on TV for first time

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