NEW GLASGOW – It was a not-so-perfect day last week for Clyde Macdonald.
The retired judge and author learned that World Series perfect game pitcher Don Larsen died of cancer on New Year’s Day at his home in Idaho. He was 90.
Larsen hurled the only perfect game in World Series history for the New York Yankees in their 2-0 victory over the cross-town rival Brooklyn Dodgers. The win gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead in the series they eventually won in seven games. It was also the last of the four “Subway Series” the teams played before the Dodgers moved the franchise to Los Angeles.
Macdonald was 14 when Larsen made history, but he never saw the game.
“I heard it on the radio, living in Sunny Brae,” he said. “We didn’t have TV and I had to listen to it on the radio. It was quite an exciting game.”
Macdonald remembers the last Dodgers batter, pinch-hitter Dale Mitchell, and the abuse he endured for taking a called third strike with two out in the ninth inning to end the game.
“It was really awful for Dale to be remembered that way,” Macdonald said. “He always maintained the pitch was a ball.”
Larsen was enjoying the best season of his career that year with the Yankees. He won 11 games and lost five primarily as a starter.
His catcher was one of the greatest of all time, Yogi Berra, who was known for the way he could frame pitches for strikes.
The photo of Berra leaping into Larsen’s arms after the game ended is among the most famous in baseball history.
Part of Larsen’s effectiveness was his no-windup pitching delivery that kept both batters and base runners off balance. Records show his perfect game required just 97 pitches.
Macdonald recalled Berra’s death in 2015 when it was noted that only Larsen remained alive of the members of the Yankees and Dodgers in the 1956 World Series.
He also has a baseball autographed by Larsen at a baseball memorabilia show.
“I got that from my son-in-law when I retired from the bench,” he said. “I have a certificate to show it was autographed by Don Larsen.”
Clyde Macdonald holds a baseball autographed by World Series perfect game pitcher Don Larsen. (Goodwin photo)