Don Larsen: Yogi Berra Was The Key To My Perfect Game

In 1956, Don Larsen threw a perfect game in Game 5 of the World Series, leading the New York Yankees to a 2-0 win over the Brooklyn Dodgers.

But there’s something about that game you might not know.

“I didn’t know I was going to start until I came to the ball park,” Larsen said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “They were undecided and nobody said anything to me until I got to the park. When I got to the park, the ball (was in my locker). That sort of surprised me very much. I just looked at the ball and took a deep breath and said, ‘Don’t mess this up.’

Larsen pitched in Game 2 of the series and gave up four unearned runs in a 13-8 Yankees loss.

“I couldn’t help thinking about the mess I made,” Larsen said. “I was okay throwing but I just got a little wild. Casey (Stengel) didn’t like it and I certainly didn’t like it. I didn’t know if I was going to start again or not.”

It’s a good thing he did. The Yankees wound up winning the series in seven, and Larsen was named MVP.

His World Series bonus? Not quite as much as it is today.

“Oh, I think it was about $8,700,” the 87-year-old Larsen said. “Nothing like today – 2-, 300,000. They made more in the series than I made in my whole life.”

Larsen, a two-time World Series champion, played in the majors from 1953-1967. He had the privilege of playing with – and against – some of the all-time greats, including Jackie Robinson.

“They were all tough,” Larsen said. “You try to do your best. Yogi (Berra) knew those guys a lot before I did and he knew how to handle pitchers. The best thing that happened to me that day, I never had such good control in my life. But Yogi put the glove out and I came pretty close to it most of the time except for a couple mistakes I made and the defense took care of that for me. So it worked out pretty darn good.”

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