Don Larsen, Yankees Legend Who Pitched Perfect Game in World Series, Dies at 90

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 2, 2020

Don Larsen, pitcher for the New York Yankees, poses in St. Petersburg, Fla., in March 1956.  (AP Photo)
Associated Press

Former New York Yankees pitcher Don Larsen—the only person to throw a perfect game in the World Series—died Wednesday at the age of 90. 

The late pitcher's agent, Andrew Levy, told the Associated Press that Larsen's son Scott confirmed his father had died of esophageal cancer in Hayden, Idaho.

The Yankees released the following statement regarding Larsen's death:

New York Yankees @Yankees

We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Don Larsen, who remained a welcome & familiar face at our annual Old-Timers’ Day celebrations. The Yankees organization extends its deepest condolences to Don’s family and friends during this difficult time. He will be missed. https://t.co/OgOdofzSTS

Larsen is best known for his performance in the 1956 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Larsen gave the Yankees a 3-2 series lead with a 97-pitch perfect game in Game 5. The Yankees went on to win the series 4-3, and Larsen was named World Series MVP.

The Michigan City, Indiana, native is still the only player to throw a perfect game or no-hitter in the World Series, and the late Roy Halladay is the only other pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the playoffs, doing so for the Philadelphia Phillies against the Cincinnati Reds in the 2010 National League Division Series.

Larsen reached legendary status with that perfect game, although he never won more than 11 games in a season and was never named an All-Star.

Five of Larsen's 14 MLB seasons were spent with the Yanks, but he was also a member of the St. Louis Browns, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Athletics, Chicago White Sox, San Francisco Giants, Houston Colt .45s/Astros and Chicago Cubs.

Larsen went 81-91 with a 3.78 ERA and 849 strikeouts in 1,548 career regular-season innings. He was at his best by far in pinstripes with a 45-24 record and 3.50 ERA as a member of the Bronx Bombers.

His performance level was raised when the games mattered most, though, as Larsen was 4-2 with a 2.75 ERA in 10 career World Series appearances, including six starts.

Larsen's dominance in the 1956 World Series is often discussed, but he helped lead the Yankees to another World Series title in 1958 when he went 1-0 with a 0.96 ERA in two appearances against the Milwaukee Braves.

Another underrated aspect of Larsen's career was his hitting ability. He hit .242 with 14 home runs and 72 RBI during his career, including a .306 average with four homers and 13 RBI in 1958.

After retiring from Major League Baseball at the conclusion of the 1967 season, Larsen wasn't in the public eye much, although he was a fixture at the Yankees' annual Old Timers' Day.