Baseball legend and Point Loma High grad Don Larsen dies
Published - 01/08/20 - 09:00 AM | 3146 views | 5 5 comments | 43 43 recommendations | email to a friend | print
World Series perfect game pitcher Don Larsen returned to his roots in October 2011 when he visited the Point Loma High baseball team.
World Series perfect game pitcher Don Larsen returned to his roots in October 2011 when he visited the Point Loma High baseball team.
The three New York Yankees to pitch perfect games include from left David Cone (July 18, 1999), and Point Loma High graduates Don Larsen (Oct. 8, 1956) and David Wells (May 17, 1998). Larsen died New Year's Day at age 90.
The three New York Yankees to pitch perfect games include from left David Cone (July 18, 1999), and Point Loma High graduates Don Larsen (Oct. 8, 1956) and David Wells (May 17, 1998). Larsen died New Year's Day at age 90.
A baseball legend with ties to San Diego died on Jan. 1.

Don Larsen was not a dominating pitcher during his 14-year major league career, but for one night at Yankee Stadium, the right-hander was perfect.

On Oct. 8, 1956, Larsen proceeded to pitch the only perfect World Series game in major league history, needing just 97 pitches to complete the gem. In fact, only one Brooklyn Dodger batter got to a three-ball count against Larsen who said, "I had great control. I never had that kind of control in my life."

Ironically, that afternoon storied Yankees manager Casey Stengel didn't inform Larsen until he arrived at the ballpark he was going to start that night's Game 5. It proved one of Stengel's best decisions.

The day after his World Series triumph, Larsen said: "Before yesterday nobody knew I was alive. Today everyone is telling me they went to school with me."

Larsen's rare feat, paired with another perfect game pitched for the Yankees by fellow Pointer alum David Wells, gives Point Loma High School the unique distinction of being the only high school in the United States with two graduates who have pitched perfect games.

Larsen died on New Year's Day of esophageal cancer at his home in Hayden, Idaho. He was 90.

Larsen was born Aug. 7, 1929, in Michigan City, Ind. His family moved to San Diego in 1944, living in the Frontier housing area on the site of the current Pechanga Arena. After enrolling at Point Loma High School, Larsen starred in baseball and was an All-Metro League selection in basketball before graduating in 1947. 

The 6-feet 4-inches tall 215-pounder received college offers for basketball but said he was "never much with the studies." He later signed a baseball contract with the St. Louis Browns

before making his major league debut in 1953.

The 1956 season proved the best of Larsen's career as he posted an 11-5 record with a 3.26 ERA and 107 strikeouts.

During his 14-year stint in major league baseball, Larsen played for eight teams, retiring in 1967 with a career record of 81-91. He recorded an ERA of 3.78 and struck out 849 hitters.

He won World Series rings in 1956 and 1958 after serving in the U.S. Army from 1951 to 1953.

Larsen made no secret of his enjoyment of the nightlife, especially in New York City. He developed a reputation as a "fun-loving guy" and earned the nickname "Gooneybird" for his antics.

After being inducted into the San Diego Hall of Champions and Breitbard Hall of Fame in 1964, Larsen made occasional trips back to San Diego for events. He co-wrote an autobiography titled "The Perfect Yankee: The Incredible Story of the Greatest Miracle in Baseball."

Larsen once said, "They can never break my record. The best they can do is tie it."

Seven years ago Larsen sold his perfect game uniform, the famed Yankee pinstripe outfit with his number 18, to a memorabilia dealer at auction for $765,000. He used the money to pay for the college educations of grandsons Justin and Cody Larsen.

Larsen is survived by Corrine, his wife of 62 years, his son Scott and the grandsons.

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