Larsen welcomes Halladay into exclusive club
MINNEAPOLIS - The course of Roy Halladay's life changed forever Wednesday when he threw only the second no-hitter in postseason history. Take it from someone who knows.
"I think about it every day, and I can't help that,'' said Don Larsen, who threw a perfect game for the Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series. "It's the best thing that ever happened. And it made me a few dollars over the years, too. I can't complain about it a bit.''
Speaking from his home in Hayden Lake, Idaho, the 81-year-old Larsen said he wasn't aware of the Phillies ace's feat until he turned on the news Wednesday night. And he was more than happy to welcome Halladay into his exclusive club. "Pretty damn nice,'' Larsen said.
The former Yankee was planning to spend Thursday fishing and picking tomatoes but instead fielded calls from all over. He didn't seem to mind the attention. "My phone hasn't stopped ringing,'' Larsen said. "Everybody's calling. I don't mind it if I've got the time.''
Larsen was quick to point out that Friday is the 54th anniversary of his perfect game; clearly the date has been etched into his memory.
The lasting image of that date is the black-and-white video of Larsen slowly walking off the mound after recording the final out, smiling as Yogi Berra races toward him. Berra leaps into Larsen's arms, creating a picture Larsen surely has signed thousands of times over the years.
"He wasn't light with all that equipment,'' Larsen said. "But that was nice of him to do that. Of course, I couldn't have done that without Yogi. He caught a great game. When he jumped on me, my mind probably went blank, and maybe it still is.''
During Halladay's no-hitter, Berra was playing cards with friends - as he does every Wednesday at that time - so he wasn't aware of history in the making until the ninth inning. He watched the final three outs on television.
"I imagine how happy he is, this coming in the playoffs,'' Berra said. "It's a great accomplishment. Wish we had him.''
Larsen said he makes it back to New York every once in a while, whether for Old-Timers' Day or an autograph signing. He likes returning, but it doesn't compare to life in Idaho.
"There's good fishing here and it's sort of private and quiet,'' he said. "I like that.''
For one day, however, Larsen was back in the spotlight, and he didn't mind. He'd been waiting 54 years for someone to join his club. Said Larsen, "It sure goes fast, doesn't it?''
With Anthony Rieber