On October 8, 1956, Don Larsen made baseball history and became a legend. In game 5 of the World Series, the Yankees pitcher threw the only perfect game to ever occur in the Fall Classic, blanking the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Larsen, writes the Baseball Hall of Fame, “authored a 97-pitch masterpiece. He went to a three-ball count on just one batter and effortlessly zipped through a Dodgers lineup that featured future Hall of Famers Pee Wee Reese, Gil Hodges, Duke Snider, Jackie Robinson (who hit cleanup that day) and Roy Campanella.
A fourth-inning solo home run by Mickey Mantle gave Larsen all the runs he would need, but the Yankees tacked on another run in the sixth off Dodgers starter Sal Maglie, who allowed just five hits in his eight innings of work.
In the top of the ninth, Larsen retired Carl Furillo on a fly ball to right and got Campanella to ground out to second. Dodgers manager Walter Alston then sent up pinch-hitter Dale Mitchell to bat for Maglie.
After retiring Mitchell, Larsen walked off the mound and into the arms of catcher Yogi Berra, who jumped onto his pitcher with joyful abandon. The Yankees went on to win the World Series in seven games, capturing their seventh title in 10 seasons. Larsen pitched 10 more seasons, never winning more than 10 games in a year but posting three more World Series wins.”
Larsen retired from baseball after the 1967 season, but he continued to tell the story of his perfect World Series game to audiences all over the country for the decades that followed.
In a 1996 story for Sports Illustrated, looking back on his feat 40 years later, Larsen reflected, “People said I didn’t do enough in my career, and maybe they’re right. But I had one great day.”
In 1993, after 24 years as a paper salesman in California,
the Yankee moved to Hayden Lake, Idaho. Larsen and his wife built a home on the shore of a sheltered cove. He passed away in 2020 at the ripe old age of 90, but his perfect game will live on forever.