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Don Larsen, RIP

Don Larsen, the only pitcher in the history of Major League Baseball to throw a perfect game in a World Series, died yesterday at the age of 90. The Yankee pitcher, who didn't have a particularly noteworthy career (he went 81-91 in a career that spanned from 1953 to 1967, pitching for seven different major league teams) was perhaps the least likely candidate to pitch the first---and only---no-hit perfect game in a World Series. It took place on October 8, 1956, Game 5 of the 1956 World Series, in which Larsen threw 97 pitches, 70 of them for strikes [YouTube link].

He was named the Most Valuable Player of the 1956 World Series, which the New York Yankees won over the Brooklyn Dodgers in seven games. I wasn't even a gleam in my parents' eyes back in 1956, but the great Vin Scully's classic call of the end of that game, in which Yogi Berra jumped into the arms of Larsen, is branded in my memory of greatest television sports moments [YouTube link].

My fondest memory of Don Larsen was when he showed up on Yogi Berra Day at Yankee Stadium on July 18, 1999, and threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Yogi. What followed was almost surreal. Yankee pitcher David Cone, as if anointed by the presence of two blessed Yankees, went on to throw a regular season perfect game [YouTube link], only the 16th perfect game in MLB history at that time, out of a total of 23---21 of these in the modern era, which began in 1900.

RIP, Don Larsen.