When Carlos Ruiz pounced on Brandon Phillips’ dribbler in front of the plate and threw a high but accurate toss to Ryan Howard, starter Roy Halladay joined Don Larsen as the only two pitchers in Major League Baseball history to throw a no-hitter in the postseason.
And the Cincinnati Reds joined the Dodgers, still in Brooklyn for Larsen’s perfecto, as the only two franchises to be no-hit in the postseason.
“Quite a nice game [Halladay] had,” Larsen said. “You have to give him credit for that. We work pretty hard to do these things.”
Now, FOXSportsWest.com takes a look back at Oct. 8, 1956, when Larsen faced 27 Dodgers and retired all 27 in order, in a 2-0 victory in Game 5 of a seven-game World Series victory for the Yankees.
The Dodgers and Yankees split the first four games of the series with the Brooklyn Dodgers taking the first two games at Ebbets Field, 6-3 and 13-8. The Yankees took the next two at Yankee Stadium, 5-3 and 6-2, setting up a crucial Game 5 match-up between the Yanks’ Larsen and Brooklyn’s Sal Maglie, who had defeated Hall of Famer Whitey Ford in Game 1 of the series. Maglie tossed a complete game, surrendering just three runs, scattering nine hits and striking out 10.
Ironically, the Dodgers offense was averaging six runs and almost nine hits per game through the first four match-ups of the series.
Larsen, just 26 at the time, finished the season fourth on the Yankees in wins, posting an 11-5 mark with a 3.26 ERA. Walter Alston’s ’56 Dodgers were led by Duke Snider’s 43 home runs and featured four players with 20 or more bombs – Gil Hodges (32) Carl Furillo (21) and Roy Campanella (20). The team scored 720 runs and hit .258 as a squad as the lineup featured four Hall of Famers: Campanella, Snider, Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson, who would retire after the series rather than be traded to the New York Giants.
Larsen began the game with back-to-back strikeouts of second baseman Jim Gilliam and Reese before getting Snider to line out to right. Each pitcher retired the first nine hitters of the game as Maglie matched Larsen pitch-for-pitch. After an eight-pitch top of the fourth for Larsen, Maglie ran into trouble in the fourth surrendering a two-out home run to center fielder Mickey Mantle, all the support Larsen would need in this historic game. Maglie would then retire catcher Yogi Berra to end the fourth inning trailing just 1-0.
Larsen easily retired Robinson, Hodges and Sandy Amoros in the top of the fifth and Maglie would match him again him in the fifth. But in the bottom of the sixth, the Yankees would add an insurance run when right fielder Hank Bauer scored third baseman Andy Carey on a single to left for a 2-0 lead. Maglie would surrender just two hits the rest of the way, taking the loss after pitching eight solid innings, surrendering two runs on five hits with just two walks and five punch outs, keeping the Dodgers in the contest his entire start.
The Dodgers, however, had no answer for Larsen.
“I felt good, it was a nice, beautiful day in the World Series, you know,” Larsen said. “And it worked out pretty nice. I never had as good control in my life, and that was the key to my success that day.”
When pinch-hitter Dale Mitchell struck out looking to end the game, Larsen made history with the first no-hitter and still only perfect game in MLB postseason history. Larsen finished the game with seven strikeouts and threw just 97 pitches (Halladay threw 104) in a game that lasted just two hours and six minutes.
“It was just a great day. I think about it every day,” Larsen said. “No one has to remind me what happened. I was just happy to be a part of it with the New York Yankees and against Brooklyn in the World Series, everybody was watching.”
The Dodgers recovered from the perfecto, however, winning Game 6 in dramatic fashion, with a walk-off single by Jackie Robinson, scoring Gilliam in the bottom of the 10th to force a seventh and final game, which the Dodgers ultimately lost 9-0. The Dodgers would move to Los Angeles just two years later.
Larsen would never again throw another no-hitter and finished his career with an 81-91 record and a 3.78 ERA.
“You work hard for certain things,” Larsen said. “I guess if you work hard enough good things are going to happen to you and it did for me and Halladay. You have to appreciate these things because you never know what’s going to happen in the future.”
He stood alone in the record books until yesterday.