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Great Game For A Great Guy

It was a blistering-hot day at Yankee Stadium as Don Larsen took the mound. The first man to pitch a perfect game at Yankee Stadium back in 1956, and the only to accomplish the same feat in the post-season, Larsen tossed out Sunday's opening pitch to none other than Yogi Berra. Starting pitcher David Cone was waiting in the wings, ready to take on the Expos.

It had been just over a year since Cone's closest friend David Wells, and then teammate, pitched his perfect game at Yankee Stadium. Cone sat in the dugout with his jacket over his head, praying that his friend would do what Cone had yet to make happen.

That is the type of person David Cone is: never thinking of himself and always thinking of others.

And moments after the game Cone spoke to his friend Wells on the phone. "He's overcome a lot of obstacles in his career and for him to do it in New York, where he is well loved, he is the man of New York City." Wells said.

"Wow, I'm going to have a beer for Cone," he added.

I watched David back in the eighties, when he was in a Met uniform throwing high heat with marvelous ball movement. He had crazy antics on the field, and an obscure character off the diamond. When I met him in 1998Â… well, my jaw dropped. For me, it was like a visit with the President.

David had circulatory problems in his hand in 1995 and major surgery on his shoulder in 1997. With his body seeming to break down on him, who then could imagine a comeback culminating like this one? Just a few weeks ago, when I asked him to start throwing the rising fastball again, he said, "I don't have it."

How can he keep winning without his overpowering fastball? Cone had told me he just knows what to throw. Experience is the key to greatness, and that is the fact. Since his first MLB victory as a Met in 1987, David Cone has taken in everything the game has had to offer. His knowledge and love for the game, and for life itself, is evident to anyone that has had the pleasure of meeting him or watching him on the mound.
I sat next to David Cone's mother during Game 1 of the playoff series against Cleveland in 1997. David gave up six runs in just over three innings pitched. To his mother's amazement, David Cone was applauded as he walked off the field.

Cone's performance brought back memories for Don Larsen.
Some may believe that Sunday's magic started when Joe Girardi gave his mitt to Yogi Berra before the game. Others may feel this could only have happened at Yankee Stadium. Regardless, this day has finally come for David Cone. Of course, he will tell everyone that winning tree World Series rings is more important. For him, team achievements outweigh those by an individual.

For us, however, the fans of David Cone, this is bottom line: 27 batters up and 27 down. He has pitched only the 14th perfect game in modern Major League history, and he did as Don Larsen looked on.

Written by Larry Roth

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