To help celebrate Steiner Sport’s 25th Anniversary, some great athletes will be dropping by our headquarters this week, to sign collectibles that will be sold for charity, and even to man our phones for a little while(!).
I’m going to try to ask each of these stars a few questions while they’re here.
The first one I talked to was Don Larsen, who, in 1956, pitched the only perfect game in World Series history.
After you pitched the perfect game, did you ever imagine that over 50 years later it would still be a big deal?
Just another game?
I wouldn’t say that.
Will it ever happen again, in the World Series?
I don’t know. It’s not up to me. That might be up to the old man upstairs.
How much of the game do you remember?
I remember a lot of it. When I talk about it, I remember more.
Do pitchers remember every pitch?
We’re supposed to. We’re trained that way.
Did you feel you had your best stuff that day? Did you know it was going to be special?
It was a beautiful day. It was nice being in the World Series, period. But the secret for me that day was control. I had never had such good control in all my life. Yogi called the pitches and I threw them pretty close to where he wanted the ball. That was the big success – the control.
When did you start feeling it could be a special day?
Probably by the end of the seventh inning.
Yeah, the game went pretty fast. I didn’t get a chance to think too much, I was just having fun. I mentioned it to Mantle when he came in. I said, “Look at the scoreboard. Wouldn’t it be something? Two more innings to go.” When I said that, the dugout became like a morgue. No one sat by me, no one said anything. It was uncomfortable.
Is there a point you started wanting it - the perfect game?
I just wanted to win the game, period. That was a big game for us, the fifth game of the World Series.
Do you ever miss playing the game?
Sure I do. All the time. I loved it.
How did you feel when an umpire’s mistake prevented Detroit’s Armando Galarraga from recording a perfect game, in 2010?
That was tough. But at least he got more than I got. He got a Corvette!
As you know, Marvin Miller died last week. He was responsible for helping ballplayers attain the sky-high salaries they enjoy today. But your generation came before that. Do you ever regret that you didn’t come after Miller?
No. Most of us had to work winters to support ourselves, but I didn’t mind working hard. It was all labor, but it kept me in shape. I did everything: private supply; a carpet company; I worked for the post office. I worked every off-season. We didn’t live on our laurels. We made money the way you’re supposed to. We worked for it!
What advice would you give today’s pitchers?
Have fun, work hard, and enjoy yourself!