The Perfect Game

Don Larsen


It was a beautiful autumn afternoon in New York that October 8, 1956. The Yankees were playing the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series. The games were tied at two apiece. People were wondering who would pitch the fifth game for the Yankees.

In the second game of the series, Don Larsen, who had had an unremarkable career, had been selected by Casey Stengel to pitch. He lasted two innings at Ebbets Field before the Dodgers scored six runs. The Brooklyn Dodgers had a lineup with four future Hall of Famers. Larsen was the last person expected to pitch again in that World Series.

When he got to the stadium and went to his locker, he saw a baseball in one of his shoes. Frank Crosetti was the third-base coach. He would customarily inform who the starting pitcher could be by putting a baseball in the shoe.

Don Larsen had a lot more than baseball going on in his life that day. His estranged wife, Vivian, had just asked the State Supreme Court to hold up his World Series winnings in an alimony dispute. In his locker was a court order over unpaid child support. Larsen was mostly known for his nightlife, partying, and doing crazy things. His nickname was “Gooneybird.”

But this day would be different. 64,000 fans would witness the only perfect game ever pitched in a World Series!! That was before 1956 and since 1956! Only one!!

It was an amazing game! Seven different times, the Dodgers almost had a hit. When the Yankees realized what was happening in late innings, nobody would speak to Larsen because they were afraid they would jinx him. It was a perfect game. He knew it was a no-hitter, but not a perfect game.

He lost more games than he won during his pitching career. He was not a star – except for one day.

He sold the pinstriped uniform he wore that day at an auction for $765,000 in December 2012. He did it so that he could pay for the education of his grandsons. He always admitted that if he had been more disciplined and not such a party person, he could have had a better career.

Miracles happen – even in baseball. They also happen in the game of life. Your past doesn’t have to determine what’s going to happen in the future. Jesus picked some really shady characters to be his close-knit group of advisors. He related to a prostitute and gave her a new chance at life. (John 8) He talked to a woman who had been married multiple times and then sent her back to tell the good news. (John 4) He transformed a tax collector into a benevolent Christian follower. (Luke 19) He made a buffet meal out of a little boy’s basket of fish and bread. (Mark 6) Miracles happen!

Jesus instructed us to “be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect.” (Mat 5:48). Don’t shoot for anything less. We will never be perfect, but we must always be moving toward perfection!

How big is the miracle that God wants to do in your life? And the miracle that God has in store for you might be far greater than the miracle that happened to Don Larsen on October 8, 1956!

Did you see the baseball in your shoe this morning?

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