Yogi Berra's Mystique

Yogi Berra's Mystique

LiveAuctionTalk.com:  by Rosemary McKittrick

Photo Courtesy of Grey Flannel Auctions.

The New York Yankees and The Brooklyn Dodgers were at it again.  It was Game 5 of the 1956 World Series.  Oct. 8, 1956 was clear and bright with a temperature of about 60 degrees. 

It was perfect weather for the first perfect game in World Series history.  It took Yankee pitcher Don Larsen 97 pitches to pull it off.  Larsen reached a three ball count only once in the first inning.     

“He knew what I was capable of doing, and all the weaknesses of the Dodger hitters,” Larsen said.  “All I had to do was throw the pitch he told me where he told me.”
— Don Larsen

Each team had won two games and the Yankees were itching to win back the title they lost the year before to the Dodgers.

Larsen was excited, relaxed and focused.  Yogi Berra was catching.  Larsen said all he did was follow Berra’s orders exactly.  Yogi was the boss.

“He knew what I was capable of doing, and all the weaknesses of the Dodger hitters," Larsen said.  “All I had to do was throw the pitch he told me where he told me.”

Mickey Mantle’s home run was the only score so far in the sixth inning.  The Yankees dugout was quiet.  The players could see Larsen pitching a perfect game and didn’t want to jinx him by talking about it.  The radio announcers calling the game were hard pressed to describe the importance of what was happening on the field without using the word “perfect” game.

“It was a funny thing,” Larsen said years later, “but I could look down there and see Yogi—I don’t want to say smiling—but looking as if he was enjoying himself.  He was playing ball.  I thought, ‘if he’s having a great time, I’m gonna have one too.’” 

The 64,519 fans at the game watched as the home team Yankees won 2-0 over the Dodgers.  They saw 27 batters step up to the mound and 27 outs resulted. 

It was the most difficult thing in baseball to do and Larsen had done it.

After the final out Berra ran out and jumped into Larsen’s arms.  It was a scene few fans at the ballpark would ever forget. 

When it was all said and done Larsen didn’t even realize he was pitching a perfect game.  He understood he had a no-hitter, but no one had ever thrown a perfect game in the World Series.  His was the first.

In the locker room after the game not many people said anything to the catcher who had called every pitch in that perfect game.  Berra sat on a stool in his undershirt with a Coca-Cola in his right hand.  “So,” he said with a smile, “What’s new?”

Even now some 60 years later when people think back to the 1956 World Series and that perfect game, Yogi Berra is the name that comes up first.

On April 14, Grey Flannel Auctions featured the Yogi Berra game-used, pinstripe flannel jersey, worn in Don Larsen’s 1956 World Series perfect game.  The jersey came with a letter from the consignor recalling how the Yankees gave him the jersey in 1959.  It was in private hands for more than half a century and sold for $564,930 in the auction.

Yogi Berra

World Series Program; Berra and Larsen dual autographed; includes 2 autographed ticket stubs from 1956 World Series;  $928. 

Baseballs; 2; Yankees and Dodgers; autographed; a total of 25 signatures in green ink; 27 signatures in green ink on the second ball; 1956;  $2,772.

Catchers Mask; New York Yankees game-used and autographed on the chin of the mask; comes with a photo style match; mask shows excellent game use; 1950s;  $16,698.

Rosemary McKittrick is a storyteller.  For 26 years she has brought the world of collecting to life in her column.  Her LiveAuctionTalk.com website is a mother lode of information about art, antiques and collectibles.  Rosemary received her education in the trenches working as a professional appraiser.

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