RIP Don Larsen

jon abbey

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Not sure if he really merits his own thread, but Don Larsen died today at 90. Has any baseball player ever been as famous for basically just one game in his career? Eddie Gaedel is the only other one to come to mind.

 

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Also part of the largest trade, by quantity of players in MLB history.

Gooney Bird, so coined owing to Larsen’s protruding ears, pear-shaped body, and long, dangling arms, didn’t even know he was starting this game until the day of. Managed to find a ball in his shoe from Frankie Crosetti, the morning coach’s way of letting his staff know it was their go in the rotation. He even called it the night before, in spite of the lack of his knowledge going by Perfect: Don Larsen’s Miraculous World Series Game and The Men Who Made It Happen, proclaiming in the cab ride, “I’m gonna beat those guys tomorrow. And I’m just liable to pitch a no-hitter.” And even then, there was a fake paper affixed to Larsen’s door by Andy Carey, the Yankee third baseman stating he had thrown one, which was later shredded before Don saw it, as not to jinx him.

According to Mickey Mantle, Larsen was the greatest drinker he had ever known, a statement echoed by Baltimore manager Jimmy Dykes in 1954, stating the only thing Don feared was sleep.

He did settle down though, choosing Idaho as a place to live specifically because it was/is quiet. Come 2012, he even eventually sold the perfect game jersey in an auction for $756,000, to pay for the college education of his grandchildren.27834
 

terrynever

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Don Larsen conquered his drinking problem halfway through life and lived until 90. The best drinking story is when Larsen drove his car into a pole at 5 a.m. during spring training. Casey only wanted to know if he was coming home or heading out.
Larsen had trouble throwing strikes while pitching for Baltimore. Yankees pitching coach Jim Turner threw out his windup and got him to just lift his left leg, bring his hands together, and focus on the plate. It worked, at times, never more so than on Oct. 8, 1956.
A legendary sports writing story revolves around that game. A Philadelphia writer was so hung over, he fell asleep during the game, writing snatches of the story when awake. After the game ended, NY Daily News writer Dick Young came across his drunken friend, looked over his copy, and typed in a better first paragraph that began with “The Imperfect Man pitched a perfect game.” Some part of that story is probably true.
For some reason, I still remember his hitting. Larsen could hit. He batted over .300 three times and hit 14 homers in his career. As Yogi would say, “That was rare but not unusual.”
 

bankshot1

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Has any baseball player ever been as famous for basically just one game in his career? Eddie Gaedel is the only other one to come to mind.

In the same vein, Johnny Vander Meer and Harvey Haddix come to mind.

Different church-David Tyree

RIP Don Larsen
 

jon abbey

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Dave Roberts is a really good one, and Haddix too, Vander Meer was of course two games but close. :)

The posts above from BN and Terry make me glad I started a thread, thanks for those.
 

Dr Strangeglove

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If I remember correctly, he was also an excellent hitter. I recall listening to one game in which Casey put him in as a pinch hitter against the Red Sox and he hit a double.
 

terrynever

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Larsen’s career was more than just the perfect game. He won three other WS games, including a pivotal Game 3 in 1958, a complete game 4-0 shutout, after NY had dropped first two games. He beat a great Milwaukee lineup in both the 1957-58 World Series. The fact that Larsen started Game 7 in both the 1957 and 1958 WS speaks more to the Yankees being short of quality starting pitchers in those years, except for Whitey Ford. Casey was always playing hunches with Larsen.
 
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mauidano

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Met him at an autograph signing, card show maybe 20 years ago. He was incredibly engaging and was making the most of his moment in time. Really enjoyed listening to him talk stories.
 

jon abbey

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There have only been 21 perfect games since 1900, 3 by Yankees. It would be laughed out of Hollywood as unbelievable if you wrote a script in which 2 of those 3 went to the same high school (Wells/Larsen - Point Loma High School in San Diego, California) and the third took place on Yogi Berra Day at Yankee Stadium, with Larsen throwing out the first pitch to Berra before Cone's perfecto.
 

crow216

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Aaron Boone. Take away the homerun and its unlikely he ever even gets an interview for the coaching job.
 

jon abbey

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Craig Edwards answered the ‘one game’ question in his Fangraphs chat today, Dock Ellis is a great one we forgot.

Taylor: Don Larsen’s career and legacy are basically defined by a single game; for which other player in MLB history can you say the same?

Craig Edwards: Dock Ellis. Bucky Dent. Time has a way of stripping things down to its most basic. David Freese will probably be in that group at some point.

Matt: Aaron Boone.

Gregg: Re: Taylor: Johnny Vander Meer: the second no hitter defined his career.