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Perfect conversation piece

Don Larsen raises funds for organization that helps children

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Posted: Monday, November 21, 2011 12:15 am

COEUR d'ALENE - When people meet Don Larsen, there's usually one thing they want to talk about.

The perfect game.

That's fine by Mr. Larsen.

"I think about it every day," he said Saturday. "Nobody has to remind me."

The Hayden Lake man was at Tom Addis Auto Center from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. signing pictures, baseballs and other memorabilia to raise money for Teammates for Kids.

The nonprofit was started in 1999 by co-founder country superstar Garth Brooks and Bo Mitchell, son of Dale Mitchell, who was the last batter to face Larsen in Game 5 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium on Oct. 8, 1956.

Today, more than 3,000 athletes are involved with Teammates for Kids, which has helped raise and distribute more than $80 million in cash, gift and scholarships to benefit children.

Larsen said he enjoys giving his time to help kids.

"It feels pretty good," he said as he sat in a chair behind a table lined with photographs of baseball history.

There was a picture of Larsen, then 27 years old, grinning as catcher Yogi Berra leaped into his arms after Mitchell took a called third strike to give the Yankees a 2-0 win over the Brooklyn Dodgers. The game sealed Larsen's legacy and place in history as the only pitcher to toss a perfecto in the World Series.

There are pictures of Larsen's first pitch of the game, and the last.

Larsen recalled there were some great plays made behind him.

Center fielder Mickey Mantle hit a home run, and ran down a long drive by Gil Hodges in deep left center.

"Of course, he could run like a deer, Mickey," Larsen said.

A blast by Sandy Amoros just went foul. A shot by Jackie Robinson off third baseman Andy Carey bounced to shortstop Gil McDougald, who threw Robinson out at first.

"There were a couple tight plays," he said.

And yes, he was nervous as the innings passed and zeros filled the scoreboard.

"I was very nervous. I probably haven't woke up yet," he said, chuckling.

When pinch-hitter Dale Mitchell stepped to the plate, Larsen had put down 26 straight batters.

He recalled turning around, saying a little prayer. "Oh man, get me through one more."

He did it.

"It was fun day, a good day for all of us," Larsen said.

On Saturday, he was joined by son Scott Larsen of Rathdrum and grandson Cody Larsen.

Scott said he and his dad enjoying hunting and fishing together. They talk more football than baseball.

Cody, too, likes hanging out with his famous grandfather.

"He's cool," he said.

Don Larsen, now 82, considers himself a "regular fan" of baseball today.

He doesn't worry about whether people cheer for the Yankees or the Dodgers.

"As long as you're a fan," he said. "Everybody has a favorite or two. Why not? It makes it exciting."

He admitted, though, he was disappointed the St. Louis Cardinals rallied to defeat the Texas Rangers in this year's World Series.

"I didn't like the results," Larsen said, shaking his head. "I root for the American League, and they blew it in the sixth game anyway, badly."

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1 comment:

  • me again posted at 5:44 am on Mon, Nov 21, 2011.

    me again Posts: 40

    Whoops. When I saw the photo and headline, my first thought was that another old "star" was schlepping his name for a few bucks - such as Pete Rose. Then I read the article and realized (but should have known) that Mr Larsen wasn't the type. Ooh-rah Mr Larsen and my apologies.

     
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