Halladay Almost Matches the Immortal Don Larsen

Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies earlier today threw a no hitter against the Cincinnati Reds, winning 4-0 in only the second no hitter in major league baseball playoff history. He threw to only 28 batters; the only runner reaching base was Jay Bruce, who walked on base with two outs in the fifth inning. Halladay, who had thrown a no hitter as recently as May 29th against the Florida Marlins, was as close to perfect as a pitcher can be without getting to perfection. The rarity of the event in the 107 year history of World Series and championship runs further illuminates the spectacular level of achievement, and focuses further on the singular performance of Yankee Don Larsen in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers and Sal Maglie.
Don Larsen was the definition of a journeyman pitcher with an overall career record of 81 wins against 91 losses, with major league stuff, but a propensity of inconsistency and wildness. He had managed to blow a 6 run lead in game two of the series, and was not initially sure he would be called on to pitch game 5. Regardless, the call to the mound was not wasted, and immediately his catcher Yogi Berra realized something was quite different on the afternoon of October 8th, 1956. Larsen was showing pin point control and substantial velocity. He only went to three balls on one batter the entire game, and only required two significant fielding plays, a ricochet grounder out by Jackie Robinson in the second inning, and a Gil Hodges drive to left center requiring a running catch by Mickey Mantle. Nothing else was really close, and it dawned on Berra the catcher in the eighth inning that Larsen was approaching perfection, much less a no hitter. The Yankee dugout grew deathly quiet to Larsen , and his quips regarding the situation were left empty in the vacant stares of teammates who feared any response would jinx the never previously achieved performance. The mound proved to be the safest and calmest place for Larsen, and he ended the game of 97 pitches with a strikeout of Dale Mitchell , a career .311 hitter. Never before, and, until today, never since had anyone achieved a no hit championship pitching performance, nad though Halladay came close , no one other than Don Larsen has achieved 27 up, 27 down, and 27 out.
Roy Halladay is a Cy Young winner with two no hitters to his credit; Don Larsen is just another pitcher among thousands who played the wonderful game of baseball. For one afternoon in 1956, however, Don Larsen raised his average talent to supernatural levels, and achieved an immortal moment in baseball lore. It is the incredible beauty of baseball that allows these kind of special moments and in a strange way makes autumn the best season of all. Thanks Roy, and thanks, Don.

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One Response to Halladay Almost Matches the Immortal Don Larsen

  1. Mark says:

    Roy Halladay throws 2nd postseason no hitter, after Don Larsen in 56. Jamie Moyer was in the dugout for both. Impossible to hate the guy!… Man, I would LOVE to hear what Don Larsen has to say about Halladay’s no-hitter tonight. Phillies MLB.

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