For Don Larsen, Strike Three Was “Automatic”

It was 57 years ago today that Yankee righthander Don Larsen threw the only no-hitter or perfect game in World Series history.

Game 5 of the 1956 Series ended when Larsen caught the Dodgers’ Dale Mitchell looking on a 1-2 count. Mitchell had struck out just 118 times in 11 major league seasons heading into that game. Umpire Babe Pinelli, working the plate for the final time in his 22-year umpiring career, rang up Mitchell on what looked to be a high pitch.  How’s that for “automation” — ump Pinelli ringing up a hitter who averaged about 12 strikeouts PER SEASON. Was it really a strike? Or was Pinelli not willing to let the game go another pitch, lest his chance for a place in baseball history (in his last game behind the plate) be swatted away by a flip single to the opposite field.

Mitchell should have known better when the count moved to two strikes. Swing the bat, Dale! The next pitch is AUTOMATIC. And that’s automation (kind of). BTW, that’s future Yankees manager Billy Martin at second base with the telltale Yankee Stadium field level scoreboard in the background.


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