Don Larsen pitched the only perfect game in a World Series as the New York Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers 2-0 in Game 5.
On October 8, 1956, in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series, Don Larsen of the New York Yankees threw a perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Larsen's perfect game is the only perfect game in the history of the World Series; it was the first perfect game thrown in 34 years and is one of only 23 perfect games in MLB history. His perfect game remained the only no-hitter of any type ever pitched in postseason play until Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay threw a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds on October 6, 2010, in Game 1 of the National League Division Series, and the only postseason game in which any team faced the minimum 27 batters until Kyle Hendricks and Aroldis Chapman of the Chicago Cubs managed to combine for the feat in the decisive sixth game of the 2016 National League Championship Series.
Don Larsen of the New York Yankees made his first start in a World Series game in the 1955 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Larsen lost the game.
The Yankees and Dodgers faced each other in the 1956 World Series. Behind Sal Maglie, the Dodgers defeated the Yankees in Game 1. Casey Stengel, the manager of the Yankees, selected Larsen to start Game 2 against the Dodgers' Don Newcombe. Despite being given a 6–0 lead by the Yankees' batters, he lasted only 1 2⁄3 innings against the Dodgers in a 13–8 loss. He only gave up one hit, a single by Gil Hodges, but walked four batters, which led to four runs in the process, but none of them were earned because of an error by first baseman Joe Collins. The Yankees won Games 3 and 4 to tie the series at two games apiece.
With the series tied at two games apiece, Larsen started Game 5 for the Yankees. Larsen's opponent in the game was Maglie. The Yankees scored two runs off Maglie, as Mickey Mantle hit a home run and Hank Bauer had a run batted in single. Larsen retired all 27 batters he faced to complete the perfect game.
Larsen needed just 97 pitches to complete the game, and only one Dodger batter (Pee Wee Reese in the first inning) was able to get a 3-ball count. In 1998, Larsen recalled, "I had great control. I never had that kind of control in my life." The closest the Dodgers came to a hit was in the second inning, when Jackie Robinson hit a line drive off third baseman Andy Carey's glove, the ball caroming to shortstop Gil McDougald, who threw Robinson out by a step, and in the fifth, when Mickey Mantle ran down Gil Hodges' deep fly ball. Brooklyn's Maglie gave up only two runs on five hits and was perfect himself until Mantle's fourth-inning home run broke the scoreless tie. The Yankees added an insurance run in the sixth as Hank Bauer's single scored Carey, who had opened the inning with a single and was sacrificed to second by Larsen. After Roy Campanella grounded out to Billy Martin for the second out of the 9th inning, Larsen faced pinch hitter Dale Mitchell, a .312 career hitter. Throwing fastballs, Larsen got ahead in the count at 1–2. On his 97th pitch, Larsen struck out Mitchell for the 27th consecutive and final out. Mitchell tried to check his swing on that last pitch, but home plate umpire Babe Pinelli, who would retire at the end of this World Series, called the last pitch a strike. Mitchell, who only struck out 119 times in 3,984 at-bats (or once every 34 at-bats) during his career, always maintained that the third strike he took was really a ball.
In one of the most iconic images in sports history, catcher Yogi Berra leaped into Larsen's arms after the final out. With the death of Berra on September 22, 2015, Larsen is the last living player for either team who played in this game.
Don James Larsen (born August 7, 1929) is an American retired Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher. During a 15-year MLB career, he pitched from 1953 to 1967 for seven different teams. Larsen pitched for the St. Louis Browns / Baltimore Orioles (1953–54; 1965), New York Yankees (1955–59), Kansas City Athletics (1960–1961), Chicago White Sox (1961), San Francisco Giants (1962–64), Houston Colt .45's / Houston Astros (1964–65), and Chicago Cubs (1967).
Larsen pitched the sixth perfect game in MLB history, doing so in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series. It is the only no-hitter and perfect game in World Series history and is one of only two no hitters in MLB postseason history (the other Roy Halladay's in 2010). He won the World Series Most Valuable Player Award and Babe Ruth Award in recognition of his 1956 postseason.
Larsen was born in Michigan City, Indiana. Larsen's family moved to San Diego, California in 1944, where his mother became a housekeeper and his father worked as a department store salesman.
Larsen attended Point Loma High School where he was a member of the basketball and baseball teams. He was selected for the All-Metro Conference team as a basketball player, and was offered several college scholarships to play basketball.
In baseball, Larsen's ability for the local American Legion team caught the attention of St. Louis Browns scout Art Schwartz. Schwartz signed Larsen to a contract to play for one of the Browns minor league teams in 1947, with Larsen receiving a $850 signing bonus ($9,537 in current dollar terms). Larsen, on why he signed with the Browns over attending college, later said that he was "never much with the studies".