August 24, 2019

The Ultimate Seven-Game Fall Classic: Game Five

November 9, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

In part one of my Ultimate Seven-Game Fall Classic series, I featured Game One of the 1988 World Series between the Oakland A’s and Los Angeles Dodgers, won by the latter on Kirk Gibson’s walk-off two-run homer off Dennis Eckersley, ironic because it was Eck who coined the phrase “walk-off piece.” Part two featured an epic 14-inning battle between the Boston Red Sox and Brooklyn Robins in Game Two of the 1916 Fall Classic in which Babe Ruth went the distance. For Game Three, I stayed in the Deadball Era and featured Dickie Kerr’s surprising victory over the Cincinnati Reds in the 1919 World Series that was tainted by the Black Sox scandal.

For Game Four, I went with the Athletics’ amazing seventh-inning comeback from an eight-run deficit at the hands of the Cubs to an improbable 10-8 victory. Game Five was a no-brainer and became only slightly less historic when Roy Halladay tossed a no-hitter at the Reds in Game One of the NLDS, only the second time a pitcher held a team hitless in the postseason. But Don Larsen did it first and a tad better.

October 8, 1956—Brooklyn Dodgers at New York Yankees: In 1956 the Yankees and Dodgers squared off for the seventh time in October and sixth time in 10 years. The Bronx Bombers took the first five meetings, two of which went seven games, before “Dem Bums” finally broke through in 1955 for their first championship in the modern era. From 1920, Babe Ruth’s first season in pinstripes, to 1955, the Yankees won 62% of their regular season games, 21 American League pennants and 16 World Series titles. From 1916, Brooklyn’s first appearance in a modern era World Series, until 1955, the Dodgers won more than 53% of their regular season games, eight National League pennants and the aforementioned defeat of the Yankees in the ’55 Fall Classic.

Nineteen-fifty-six proved to be another banner year for both clubs, though they took markedly different routes to earn a spot in the World Series. On September 3, the Dodgers were three and a half games behind the first-place Milwaukee Braves with only 22 to play, while the Yankees held a commanding eight and a half game lead over the second-place Cleveland Indians. New York cruised to a pennant from there, but Brooklyn didn’t climb into first place for good until September 29 with a doubleheader sweep over the Pittsburgh Pirates, and didn’t secure the N.L. flag until the last day of the season.

It was fitting that the Dodgers and Yankees would meet again in the postseason, considering they finished either first or second in their respective leagues in hitting, pitching and fielding efficiency, the only two teams to do so. New York, led by triple crown winner and A.L. MVP Mickey Mantle, scored a league-high 5.56 runs per game, almost a full run better than average. The Dodgers, led by center fielder Duke Snider, plated 4.68 runs per game against an average of 4.25.

The Yankees, led by southpaw Whitey Ford (19-6 with a 2.47 ERA), also had the edge in pitching—they finished second to Cleveland in ERA at 3.63 and boasted a slightly higher ERA than the Dodgers’ 3.57, but were more than a half run better than league average, whereas Brooklyn, led by Don Newcombe (27-7, 3.06) was only .2 runs better than league average. But the Dodgers were the best defensive team in baseball, leading the majors in defensive efficiency at .730, while the Yankees finished second in the A.L. at .713, and seventh in the majors.

From 1947-1955, the clubs met five times in the World Series and four of them had gone to 2-2 heading into the fifth game, so it was no surprise when the ’56 Series was knotted at two games apiece going into Game Five. What was a surprise, however, was that Yankees manager Casey Stengel was going to go with 27-year-old 11-game winner Don Larsen in what was a pivotal tilt. Larsen had been brilliant in September, going 4-0 and allowing only two earned runs in his final 34 2/3 innings for a microscopic 0.52 ERA, but couldn’t get out of the second inning of Game Two when he allowed four runs on four walks and a hit before being replaced by Johnny Kucks.

All four runs were unearned thanks to an error by first baseman Joe Collins, but the meltdown by the Yankees pitching staff—Stengel used three pitchers in the second alone and seven in the game—erased a six-run advantage they held going into the top of the second en route to a 13-8 loss. It appeared to be a crushing blow to the Yankees, who’d also lost Game One, 6-3, when ace Whitey Ford was pummeled for five runs on six hits in only three innings, two of which were homers by Jackie Robinson and Gil Hodges. Dodgers hurler Sal “The Barber” Maglie earned the win with a solid complete-game performance in which he fanned 10.

Ford rebounded and won, 5-3, in Game Three at Yankee Stadium, then Tom Sturdivant, a 26-year-old righthander in his sophomore season, earned a 6-2 win in Game Four to knot the series at two games apiece. Dodgers skipper Walter Alston tabbed Maglie for Game Five; Stengel countered with Larsen. “Casey Stengel fooled a lot of smart people when he decided on Don Larsen as his pitcher in the big one,” wrote Frank Finch of the Los Angeles Times. “Most felt that Bullet Bob Turley or Johnny Kuck [sic] would get the nod.”

Turley had come to the Yankees in the same November 1954 deal that put Larsen in pinstripes; it was a trade that saw 18 players shuttle between New York and Baltimore. The powerful righthander boasted one of the hardest recorded fastballs in big league history at the time, sporting a heater that topped 94 MPH, but he had a terrible time controlling it and led the league in walks three times and passed almost six batters per nine innings over his 12-year career. He won 17 games in his first season with the Yankees, posted a then-career-best 3.06 ERA and fanned a career-high 210 batters.

But Turley got lit up by the Dodgers in Game Three of the ’55 World Series at Ebbets Field before settling down in a relief role in Games Five and Seven. He slumped in 1956, going 8-4 with a 5.05 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 0.88, and was particularly ineffective down the stretch, posting a 9.45 ERA in his final five appearances.

Kucks, also a righty, was taller and leaner than Turley, relied mostly on a sinker, was a quick worker on the mound and had much better control but much less power, striking out only 3.2 batters per nine innings in his six-year big league stint. He went 18-9 in 1956 with a 3.85 ERA in a career-high 224 1/3 innings, but won only 36 games in his five other seasons. He hadn’t had much success against the Dodgers in postseason play either, posting a 6.00 ERA in two appearances in 1955.

Larsen, the largest of the three at 6’4″ and 225 pounds, also boasted a terrific fastball, rated one of the best by The Sporting News, a slider and a slow curve, but had the least success against the Dodgers in the postseason, pitching to an 11.25 ERA in his only start in Game Four of the ’55 Fall Classic. He began his career with a 7-12 record for the St. Louis Browns in 1953, then lost a league-high 21 games with the Orioles in 1954. He rebounded in 1955 to go 9-2 with a 3.06 ERA in 19 appearances, then went 11-5 with a 3.26 ERA in 38 appearances in 1956.

“Larsen was a Jekyl and Hyde pitcher who alternated steady performances with ones where he didn’t throw a strike for a week,” explained the introduction to Larsen’s book, The Perfect Yankee: The Incredible Story of the Greatest Miracle in Baseball. But, with only a few games left in the ’56 campaign, Larsen adopted a no-windup delivery that proved effective in his last two regular season starts. “This idea of pitching without a windup came to me about 10 minutes before I went out to face the Red Sox about two weeks ago,” the hurler explained. “So I went out and tried it and I beat them, 2-1, on a four-hitter.” Six days later he held Boston to no runs on three hits in seven innings.

“You don’t have to be a big brain to know that all batting is in rhythm,” Larsen went on. “So is pitching. So it’s up to a pitcher to upset a batter’s rhythm. When you don’t wind up, the hitters have to be ready faster. Doesn’t that make sense?” If anyone knew about hitting and rhythm it was Red Sox superstar Ted Williams, who predicted that Larsen would be the difference maker between the teams. “I know he gives me all kinds of trouble,” Williams said the day of Game One, “because I got only a couple of hits off him all season.” In fact, Williams had trouble with Larsen during the eight years they faced each other; the Hall of Fame slugger posted an .864 OPS against Larsen, more than 22% below his career mark.

It was thought that Maglie had the edge in Game Five because National League umpire Babe Pinelli was scheduled to work the plate. “This doesn’t mean Sal and Babe are in cahoots,” wrote Finch, “but it so happens that the National League is a ‘low ball’ league and the junior circuit is a ‘high ball’ league…Maglie, of course, likes to keep his curve down around the batter’s knobby knees and he knows how Pinelli judges this type of delivery.”

Meanwhile Larsen got little love from the press. Edward Prell dubbed him a “one time failure,” Sports Illustrated called him “very erratic…temperamental and sometimes rattles easily,” but also admitted he was “tougher than nails when right,” and the Washington Post likened him to comic strip character Li’l Abner, described as a “hulking, naive man-child” and a “simple-minded citizen.” On the other hand, the comparison might have been apt; Esquire Magazine once began a piece about Larsen with “He liked comic books and cold beer…”

He also liked hard liquor. His fun-loving antics and playboy lifestyle had many questioning his maturity and dedication to his craft, and had Casey Stengel muttering “The only thing [Larsen] fears is sleep.” Mickey Mantle once called Larsen, “The greatest drinker I’ve known.” During spring training, Larsen drove his convertible into a light pole at 5:30 in the morning, causing $800 damage to his car and earning a $15 fine for failing to “reduce the speed of his auto to avoid a collision.”

According to the introduction of The Perfect Yankee, “Less than 13 hours before Game Five, the ‘night marauder’ had partied for hours in some of the Big Apple’s most notorious watering holes.” But Larsen remembers it differently, claiming he went out to dinner with sports writer Arthur Richman the night before Game Five, had “maybe a few beers” and was in bed by midnight.

According to legend, sometime during the night he told Richman that he was going to toss a no-hitter, then gave him a dollar to donate to his synagogue for good luck. Larsen insists that he didn’t say he “would” throw a no-hitter, he said he “might.” Either way, he was right.

Larsen had no idea he’d be starting until he arrived at the Yankees’ clubhouse and found the warm-up ball in his shoe, left there by coach Frankie Crosetti. When the big righthander took the mound in the top of the first, he was met by almost 65,000 fans anxious to see who would climb into the driver’s seat heading into Game Six. Junior Gilliam led off and ran the count to 2-2 before striking out looking. Shortstop and captain Pee Wee Reese took the count to three balls and two strikes before fanning on a called third strike. It would be the only time Larsen would get to three balls on a batter the rest of the way. Duke Snider lined out to right fielder Hank Bauer to end the inning.

“In the first inning Gilliam and Reese set the negative tempo by window shopping Larsen’s throws,” wrote Bugs Baer. “From then on the Bums took it like they were batting with spoons.”

Maglie was equally effective, retiring the side on a popup by Bauer, a bunt ground out by Collins and a fly to left by Mantle. Larsen almost ran into trouble in the second when Jackie Robinson led off with a smash that caromed off third baseman Andy Carey’s glove, but shortstop Gil McDougald snagged the rebound and tossed Robinson out by a step. Gil Hodges fanned on four pitches, then Sandy Amoros popped out to Billy Martin who fell over as he made the catch.

Again, Maglie matched Larsen pitch for pitch and retired the side in order on a pop fly to short by Yogi Berra, a fly ball to left by Enos Slaughter and a strikeout of Martin. Not to be outdone, Larsen retired the Dodgers in the top of the third on only seven pitches—Carl Furillo flied out to right, Roy Campanella fanned and Maglie lined out to Mantle.

And the beat went on—the 39-year-old Maglie mastered the Yankees again in the bottom of the third, retiring McDougald, Carey and Larsen on a grounder to third and two pop outs to Campanella, then Larsen set down the Dodgers in the fourth on seven more pitches, one of which was a long foul into the lower deck of the right field stands by Duke Snider two pitches before striking out.

Going into the bottom of the fourth, 21 batters had stepped to the plate and the closest anyone had come to a hit was Robinson. “The 64,519 spectators had already started buzzing that a double no-hitter might be in the making…” wrote Edward Prell in the Chicago Tribune. Interestingly, Maglie had just thrown a no-hitter on September 25 against the Phillies in his second-to-last start of the season. The closest Larsen had ever come to a no-no was on May 16, 1954 when the then Baltimore Orioles hurler held the Yankees hitless for 7 2/3 innings before surrendering his first safety.

Larsen and Maglie employed different styles and had different careers but they also shared some similarities. Larsen was a big, strong hard thrower from Indiana, who earned the nickname “Gooney Bird” from his teammates after they saw a flock of albatrosses stumbling around as if drunk. At the time of his Game Five start in 1956, Larsen’s father was a store clerk and his mother a housekeeper. Maglie, an Italian who grew up in New York, was tall as well, but wiry and didn’t boast Larsen’s speed. Instead he relied on three different types of curve, using his fastball to set them up as well as back batters off the plate, which is how he earned his nickname, “The Barber.” His father had come over from Italy with a limited knowledge of English and his mother was uneducated.

Larsen was a pitcher with great potential who never reached it, finishing his 14-year career with more losses than wins, and an ERA+ that was a hair below average. Maglie had little potential—after throwing only three pitches in a tryout in 1937, he was kicked off the mound—but after working with Dolf Luque in the mid-1940s, he turned his career around.

“The flinty old Cuban molded the mild-mannered Maglie into a pitcher along his own lines,” wrote Judith Testa. “As he absorbed Luque’s methods and pitched under varied and often extreme conditions, a very different Sal Maglie emerged — a grim, tough, ruthless competitor unfazed by weather, taunts, or pressure, a pitcher who could bend a curve like a pretzel, or send a batter sprawling with a fastball that grazed his chin.”

Maglie’s first full big league season didn’t come until 1950 when he was already 33 years old, mostly because he jumped to the Mexican League in 1946 and was banned from the majors for five years. When commissioner Happy Chandler lifted the ban early, Maglie rejoined the New York Giants for whom he made 13 appearances in 1945. From 1950-1951, “The Barber” went 41-10 with a 2.84 ERA and led the league in winning percentage and ERA in 1950, and wins in 1951. He would eventually end his 10-year big league career with a record of 119-62 and a very good 3.15 ERA.

Prior to the ’56 World Series, Maglie had faced the Yankees in postseason play once before, in 1951 when he was rocked in Game Four and lost to Allie Reynolds, 6-2. Hall of Fame center fielder Joe DiMaggio took him deep in the fifth to ice the game and effectively end Maglie’s day. But this time he was in full control, at least through the first 11 Yankee hitters. Bauer led off the fourth with a grounder to third and Collins struck out looking, bringing Mickey Mantle to the plate with two down and nobody on. The man who would eventually replace DiMaggio in the Yankee outfield treated Maglie the same as his predecessor had and ripped a line drive into the right field seats to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead that Larsen would never relinquish.

“Maglie worked with extreme care on the center fielder,” wrote Ed Rumill of the Christian Science Monitor. “Sal, most of the time, kept his stuff on the outside corner€”the third base side to the left-handed hitting Mantle. But the Dodger veteran made one mistake in the fourth inning and the Yankee took advantage, as Yankees often do. Sal threw one inside and Mickey pulled it into the right field seats.” Bugs Baer was a little more poetic. “Mantle got hold of a souvenir ball and gave it the long autograph,” he wrote.

Berra lined out to Snider, who made a “brilliant diving gloved-hand catch” to end the inning and bring Larsen out for the fifth. Robinson led off the frame and saw five pitches from Larsen, slamming the fifth to deep right field where it was corralled by Bauer. Hodges received the same number of tosses and belted pitch number five to deep left-center, but Mantle got on his horse and made a running back-handed grab of the drive for out number two. Then Amoros smacked a 1-1 offering into the lower deck of the right field seats, but it went just foul for a loud strike two. “Not by more than a foot,” claimed Dodgers first base coach Jake Pitler. Two pitches later, he bounced out to Martin to end the inning.

The Yankees appeared to have something going in the bottom of the fifth when Slaughter walked to lead off the inning, but Martin’s bunt resulted in a force out, Maglie to Reese, then the Dodgers’ captain made a sensational play on a drive off the bat of McDougald to end the threat. McDougald’s liner appeared to be headed for left-center field, “but the ball never cleared Reese, who leaped in the air, deflected the ball with his glove, then caught it,” wrote John Drebinger in the New York Times. “Martin, certain the drive was a hit, had gone too far off first to get back and was doubled off the bag.”

Larsen continued his efficient domination in the sixth, using only three pitches to set down Carl Furillo and Roy Campanella on consecutive pop flies to Martin. The toughest batter of the inning proved to be Maglie, who battled Larsen for six pitches before finally fanning on the seventh to end the frame. Maglie’s luck ran out in the bottom of the sixth when he surrendered a hit to Carey, a sacrifice bunt by Larsen and a hit to Bauer that brought Carey home with New York’s second run. Collins singled and Bauer advanced to third to put runners on the corners with only one out and Mantle coming to the plate.

Alston made a trip to the mound to talk to Maglie, Reese and Gilliam. “When I walked out to the mound in the sixth…I just wanted to find out how he felt, and as soon as he told me he was all right I didn’t hesitate to leave him in,” the Dodgers pilot explained after the game. “I wanted to talk to Pee Wee Reese and Junior Gilliam to set up a double play situation, too.” Mantle did, in fact, hit into a double play, “but not exactly by plan,” according to the Baltimore Sun. In what was described as a “rather freakish” double play by Drebinger, Mantle bounced sharply to Hodges, who fielded the ball, stepped on first, then fired to Campanella to nail Bauer in a rundown between third and home.

“Hodges mad a scintillating pick up of Mantle’s smash, stepped on first and threw to home for a double play on Bauer who was trying to score,” wrote Shirley Povich in the Washington Post. “Bauer was trapped in a run-down and caught despite a low throw by Campanella that caused Robinson to fall into the dirt.”

Larsen set the Dodgers down again in the seventh, using only eight pitches. Gilliam hit a hard shot to McDougald, who scooped it up on a hop and threw the Dodgers second baseman out at first; Reese hit a harmless fly to Mantle and Snider flied out to Slaughter. After his brief stint on the mound was over, Larsen tempted fate and started talking about what he might accomplish with two more perfect innings.

“Still, it was not until after Larsen had set down the Dodgers in the seventh inning that he realized what might happen,” wrote Kostya Kennedy in Sports Illustrated. “Sitting in the dugout, a lit cigarette in his hand, he stared out at the scoreboard and saw the string of zeros. ‘Hey, Mick,’ said Larsen to Mantle, who was beside him. ‘Look at that. Two more innings. Wouldn’t it be something.’

“Mantle stood and walked away without saying a word. At that point superstition took over. No one dared mention the no-hitter or even talk to Larsen. The dugout, usually full of banter, fell suddenly silent. ‘It was lonely in there those last two innings,’ Larsen recalls. ‘The only time I felt comfortable was when I was on the mound.'”

The rest of the ballpark was also well aware of what they were witnessing. “Somewhere in the middle of the game the crowd seemed to get a mass realization of the wonders that were being unfolded,” wrote Arthur Daley of the New York Times. “Tension kept mounting until it was as brittle as an electric light bulb. The slightest jounce and the dang thing might explode.”

Maglie ran into a bit of trouble in the bottom of the seventh when he surrendered a two-out hit to Martin and a walk to McDougald, but he coaxed Carey to ground to Reese, who flipped the ball to Gilliam at second for the force. Larsen continued his three-up, three-down pace in the eighth and retired Robinson, Hodges and Amoros on a grounder back to the mound, a liner to third and a deep fly to center. “He would take off his cap, out there on the mound, and shake the sweat from it, and rub his sleeve across his beaded forehead,” wrote Bob Considine. “And then he would take his place on the slab, study what Yogi Berra was quietly signalling [sic] him, bring his hands to his body with an almost prayer-like gesture, and let it go€”minus wind-up.”

Larsen led off the bottom of the eighth and received a rousing ovation from the home crowd. “When Larsen came to bat in the eighth the vast old stadium shook with the thunder of acclaim, and torn programs fluttered down from on high in a blizzard reserved locally for visiting potentates and early swimmers of the English Channel,” waxed Considine.

As if to remind everyone how fantastic he’d been throughout the contest as well, Maglie struck out the side in the bottom of the eighth, earning a nice ovation from the crowd as he headed back to the dugout. But he didn’t stop there. “When Sal Maglie finished striking out three Yankees in the eighth inning…he went directly down the steps and through the Dodgers’ dugout without pausing,” wrote Roscoe McGowen. “Looking neither to the right nor the left Sal sat down on the low wall that borders the runway, clasped his hands and leaned over with bowed head…Had the Barber been praying?”

According to Povich, the Yankees eighth-inning strikeout victims “weren’t caring much or even bothering to bark at some of the strike calls Sal Maglie was getting. They were un-naturally docile. Yankee runs weren’t important now.” The big Yankee righthander came out for the top of the ninth and a shot at immortality. “Out from the stands swept a low murmur of excitement,” wrote Daley, “almost like surf rumbling against a distant shore.”

Povich was equally poetic in describing the moment: “The Yankee players, too, had been swept up in the mood-music that Larsen’s no-hit pitches were thumping out, with a steady beat that had the mob swaying like so many silent supplicants for him, and themselves, too…The mob was no longer an audience in those late innings. They were helping Larsen to bend each pitch. They were in the ball game as much as he.”

All Larsen had to do was retire the next three batters and he’d become the first pitcher to toss a no-hitter in World Series play. But this wasn’t any no-hitter; it was a perfect game. Carl Furillo led off the top of the ninth. “One could have heard a dollar bill drop in the huge arena as Carl Furillo got up as the first Dodger batter in the ninth,” recounted Drebinger. The right-handed hitting, strong-armed Pennsylvania native gave Larsen arguably his toughest battle of the contest when he fouled off four of the first five pitches he saw before rapping a high fly to Bauer in right. “A gush of relief spilled from the crowded stands,” wrote Considine.

Two outs to go.

“Larsen took his cap off and shook his head, apparently to dislodge any cold sweat on his brow,” wrote Daley. The pitcher’s next hurdle was hard-hitting catcher Roy Campanella. “Larsen, wet with sweat though it was a pleasantly cool afternoon, confronted the Dodger catcher with great deliberation,” wrote Considine. Campy belted a long foul to left, then hit a dribbler to Martin at second for out number two. “Brash Billy the Kid scooped the ball up and aimed carefully as he pegged to Joe Collins,” wrote Daley. “The surf no longer was pounding on a distant shore. It was close at hand, a mighty roar.”

One out to go.

Maglie was due up, but Alston summoned left-handed hitting 34-year-old veteran Dale Mitchell to hit for the hard-luck Dodgers hurler. Mitchell, in his 11th and final season, was a career .312 hitter who fanned only 119 times in just shy of 4,000 career at-bats. He struck out only 17 times per 162 games and boasted a career on-base percentage of .368. “Dale is a clean-swinging, clean-living professional who is kind to children and dogs,” wrote Considine of Mitchell. “But no man living was ‘for’ him as he stood up there, the last human barricade between Larsen and immortality.”

“Larsen took off his cap, looked around at his deployed teammates, jiggled the ball in his glove, and wiped his right hand on his striped flannels before delivering a pitch which was outside” wrote Ed Prell. Larsen evened the count at 1-1 with a called strike, then jumped ahead 1-2 when Mitchell swung at and missed his third offering. “Larsen again jerked off his cap,” wrote Prell, “nervously brushed the back of his neck with it, reached down for the resin bag€”and pitched.” Mitchell fouled the ball off to the left and into the crowd. “Don gently kicked the dirt around the rubber,” Prell continued, “again went to the resin bag and then into his pitching position. He drew back, the arm flashed forward, and Mitchell stood there as tho [sic] transfixed.”

Mitchell started to offer at the pitch but thought it was off the plate and checked his swing. “That ball was this far outside,” Mitchell explained after the game, holding his hands about a foot apart. Perhaps caught up in the moment, home plate umpire Babe Pinelli rung him up anyway to seal the perfect game. “It was a fat pitch,” Pinelli countered. “No hitter will see a much better strike.” Interestingly, it would prove to be Mitchell’s last career plate appearance and Pinelli’s last home plate assignment, the arbiter having decided to retire after the season.

Yankee Stadium erupted. “Those staid Yankee fans went nuts in an unrestrained ovation that was far more indigenous to Ebbets Field,” wrote Daley. Yogi Berra raced toward Larsen, jumped on the pitcher and wrapped his arms and legs around him in a congratulatory embrace. “The squatty Berra rushed forward and attached himself to the giant pitcher, his legs wrapped around Larsen’s, like a small boy romping with dad,” wrote Prell.

When all was said and done, Larsen had thrown only 97 pitches, 71 of them for strikes. “The only alien uniform that marred the serenity of the landscaped bases was that worn by the umpires,” wrote Baer. One newspaper joked that the closest a Dodger got to first base was coach Jake Pitler.

But Walter Alston summed up Larsen’s performance best. “He pitched a helluva ball game,” said the Dodgers skipper.

Reliever Clem Labine started Game Six for the Dodgers and was brilliant, shutting out the Yankees for 10 innings to win, 1-0, beating hard-luck loser Bob Turley, who tossed 9 2/3 shutout innings before surrendering the winning run. But the Yankees secured yet another championship with a 9-0 Game Seven drubbing at Ebbets Field behind the three-hit pitching of Johnny Kucks. Larsen owned the only no-hitter in postseason history for 54 years before Roy Halladay turned the trick against the Cincinnati Reds in Game One of the 2010 NLDS, and is still the only pitcher to hurl a perfect game in the postseason.

On Deck—The Ultimate Seven-Game Fall Classic: Game Six

Mike Lynch is the author of Harry Frazee, Ban Johnson and the Feud That Nearly Destroyed the American League and It Ain’t So: A Might-Have-Been History of the White Sox in 1919 and Beyond, and the founder of Seamheads.com.

 

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