For more than half a century, a journeyman pitcher named Don Larsen had basked in fame and a small fortune as the only man in major league history to pitch a perfect game or no-hitter in the postseason.
When Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay doubled the membership in Larsen’s exclusive club by throwing a no-hitter Tuesday in the National League playoffs, Larsen – who threw a perfect game for the New York Yankees in the 1956 World Series – said he wasn’t the least bit bitter or resentful of Halladay.
“No. Can’t,” Larsen said by phone from his home in Hayden Lake, Idaho. “No one can take it (his perfect game) away. They can’t beat it.”
Larsen, 81, said he learned about Halladay’s no-hitter on the news Tuesday night.
“I’m happy for him,” Larsen said.
Larsen, known for his feistiness on and off the field, couldn’t resist taking a light-hearted jab at Halladay’s feat.
“This is the preseason!” he joked. “It’s not the World Series yet. We didn’t have (league) playoffs when I played.”
Indeed, Larsen’s perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers came long before ESPN, the Internet, inter-league play and huge salaries.
Larsen made $13,000 in 1956. The 6-foot-4 right-hander played for eight teams in a major league career that stretched from 1953-67. He compiled an 81-91 record and 3.78 ERA pitching primarily in relief. He pitched briefly for the Tacoma Cubs in 1968.
Larsen, acknowledging his age, said there’s one benefit to no longer being the only man in postseason history with a no-hitter to his credit.
“If it keeps on happening,” he joked, “my name keeps getting mentioned.”
The Tampa Bay Rays removed Rocco Baldelli from their playoff roster because of muscle fatigue and added Willy Aybar. … Struggling left-hander Barry Zito and Jose Guillen have been left off San Francisco’s playoff roster for its division series against Atlanta. … Mayors Mark Mallory of Cincinnati and Michael Nutter of Philadelphia have a wager on the NL playoffs that will provide 2,000 books to needy kids in the winning city and 1,000 books to the losing city. … Roberto Alomar’s wife, Maria Del Pilar Rivera Alomar, has accused the former baseball star in divorce papers filed in New York of having unprotected sex with her despite knowing that he is HIV-positive. … The Minnesota Twins’ “Break a Bat, Plant a Tree” promotion – 100 planted trees for every opposing bat the Twins broke during the season – resulted in 18,000 trees to be planted next spring.
Tbe Associated Press contributed to this report.