Remembering October's Perfect Moment

It's a very special month for baseball fans and for a select group of baseball players. This Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of one very special World Series game — proof-positive that anything can happen in October.

Don Larsen was 27 years old on Oct. 8, 1956, when he did something that had never happened before and hasn't happened since: He pitched a perfect game in the World Series.

"I can picture myself right here on the mound right now," Larsen told The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith as the two stood on the diamond at historic Yankee Stadium. "You know, it's a good feeling."

"Do you see yourself now or do you see yourself 50 years ago?" Smith asked the legendary Yankees pitcher.

"A long time ago — 50 years ago. That's what I see. Not today," Larsen said, laughing.

"Fifty years. I'm just thinking about it," says Yankee great Yogi Berra, who was Larsen's catcher when he made history.

"Where? Where'd it go?" Larsen said.

It all happened in a baseball instant. The perfect game lasted just 2 hours and 6 minutes.

"And I didn't know it was a perfect game until somebody told me in the clubhouse after the game was over," Larsen said.

A perfect game means none of the 27 batters Larsen faced reached base. Not a hit, not a walk. In all of major league history, it has only happened 15 times.

"It's something else. It's amazing," Larsen said.

Larsen was known as pretty good pitcher, but an even better partier. That day, the baseball gods smiled on him.

"How did it happen to you on that day at that time?" Smith asked. "I guess you must have wondered that?"

"I've wondered about it, and other people do also," Larsen said. "I believe in one thing: If you work hard enough, you know something good's gonna happen, you're gonna have a day. And maybe it was just my time to have that good day."

By the ninth inning, Larsen himself was starting to tremble.

"I probably said a little prayer, you know, the old man upstairs," Larsen said. "You know, the old man upstairs, get me through one more. Would you please? I was nerv … My legs were shaking."

The scene of Berra running out and leaping into Larsen's arms after the final out is the stuff of baseball immortality.

"You recognize that picture? That would have been right over here," Smith asks, pointing to the Yankee Stadium turf.

"My mind went blank and it probably still is," Larsen said.

"And I almost jumped on him again when they introduced us at the Old Timers' game." Berra said.

"He couldn't jump that high and I couldn't hold him if he could anyway," Larsen joked.

Larsen's perfect game gave the Yankees a three-games-to-two lead over the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1956 World Series. The Yankees went on to win the series in seven games. Larsen lives in Idaho now with his wife of 49 years. He appears for speaking engagements at charitable fundraisers through the Don Larsen Foundation.

Larsen pitched 14 years in the majors, but he said he had never had a day like that before — or since. Neither has anyone else.
  • John Esterbrook

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