Don Larsen threw for seven different teams over a lengthy MLB career, including five years with the New York Yankees.
Former New York Yankees pitcher Don Larsen has passed away at the age of 90.
According to Bill Madden of the New York Daily News, Larsen was in hospice care and died of esophageal cancer in Hayden Lake, Idaho.
Larsen built a lengthy MLB career, playing 15 seasons with seven different teams. He is perhaps best known for his five-year stretch (1955-59) with the Yankees.
It was in New York where Larsen entered baseball immortality. He would throw a perfect nine innings in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series at Yankee Stadium against the Brooklyn Dodgers. His showing in the 2-0 win remains the only perfect in MLB postseason history and was the only no-hitter in the playoffs until Roy Halliday accomplished the feat in the 2010 NLDS.
The image of catcher Yogi Berra leaping into Larsen’s arms after the final out remains one of the most iconic shots in baseball history. He would later be named MVP of the series after the Yankees beat Brooklyn in seven games.
Larsen’s perfection led to the first of two World Series titles he’d win with the Yankees. Two years later, Larsen came up big once again during the Fall Classic in The Bronx. He threw seven shutout innings and struck out seven in a 4-0 win over the Milwaukee Braves in Game 3 of the 1958 series.
Larsen went 45-24 as a Yankee with a 3.50 earned run average. His best statistical year came in his Yankees debut in 1956. He posted an 11-5 record with a 3.26 ERA and a career-best 107 strikeouts.
Larsen also had an uncanny reputation as a strong hitting pitcher. Prior to the introduction of the designated hitter, Larson put up a .242 career average to go along with 14 home runs and 72 runs batted in.
In 1964, Larsen was inducted into the Beritbard Hall of Fame, honoring the best of San Diego-based athletes. Larsen had moved to the area with his family in 1944. Ironically, both Larsen and David Wells (the next Yankee to throw a perfect game after Larsen’s) were alumni of San Diego’s Point Loma High School.
He took the mound one last at Yankee Stadium on July 18, 1999. On “Yogi Berra Day”, Larsen threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Berra himself, whose number was retired by the Yankees that afternoon. David Cone would go on to throw a perfect game of his own in the ensuing contest, a 6-0 win over the Montreal Expos.
Larsen was also a regular visitor during Yankee Stadium’s annual Old Timer’s Day festivities and also appeared during the closing ceremonies of the original Yankee Stadium in 2008.
Larsen is survived by his wife Corrine. The two had been married since 1957 and lived in Hayden Lake.