In the summer of 1956 baseball was everything for a 9 year old boy living in Carson City, Nevada. My older brother and I were either playing pickup games 10 hours a day at the school diamond, playing ball in the newly formed Little League with the oh-so-cool team T shirts or listening to games on the radio. Television did not come to our city until later when a tower was finally erected on Mount Rose. So the way to listen to the Yankees play the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series was on the floor in front of the old HiFi. We could pick up a powerful station from San Francisco and soon be lost in our imagination of the game. In hindsight, it was a much better way to "see" the game rather than watching it on TV. By the way, that's how a kid from Carson City became a life-long fan of the Boston Celtics listening to the San Francisco Don's games. But that is another story.
1955 was a horrible and shocking year. The Bums from Brooklyn beat my Yankees in the Series when Sandy Amoros robbed Yogi of a sure double and the tying runs. Oh, the shame of it all having to spend a year listening to the Brooklyn fans crow about their crown. Fortunately, there weren't that many Dodger fans in Carson City back then. That came later when they moved west. So, it was pay back time in 1956. I was ready to root hard for Mickey Mantle, Hank Bauer, Elston Howard and Whitey Ford. But I was afraid of the Bums, too. they had Jackie Robinson, Don Newcombe, Gil Hodges, Roy Campanella, Carl Furillo, Sal Maglie and a couple of guys names "Pee Wee" and "Duke". Pretty hard to beat a team with a Duke. But I was ready.
We used to have small bats about the length of a pencil and small baseballs about the size of a marble. You could lie on the rug on the floor and the pitcher would roll the marble to the plate where the batter would try to slide the bat around to hit it out of the infield. It's not as hard as hitting your older brother's whiffle ball pitch, but it's not easy either. We would each take turns being the Yankees, switching from pitcher to hitter as the innings progressed.
I knew that Sal Maglie would pitch for the Dodgers in game 5. I was afraid of Sal. Every time I came to the plate with my little pencil sized bat I thought he was going to brush me back. Sal did that, you know. That's why they called him "The Barber" cause he threw close enough to your head to give you a shave. Even a 9 year old knew how mean he was. Who would the Yankees put up? Oh, geez. It's Don Larsen. This game was too important. Why didn't they pitch Whitey?
For some reason my brother decided not to play the game on the rug that day. So I had to both pitch and hit. As the game progressed I could see that it was a pitcher's duel. My little bats were not getting much action until Mickey clobbered one in the 4th inning. Good old "Mick! Back then baseball supersitiion and tradition were stronger than now. I did not notice Larsen's string of goose eggs because the radio announcer for sure did not want to jinx the game by saying anything about perfection. I just knew the game was going by faster than usual and that Maglie and Larsen were each pitching great baseball. Finally, the Yankees scored another run in the 6th and I started to breathe a little easier. I still had no clue Larsen was pitching a no-no and a perfect game. It wasn't until the radio announcer finally said so at the end of the game when Yogi jumped into Don Larsen's arms that I realized what he had done.
Yes, I am one of the people who witnessed Don Larsen's perfect game in 1956, but I wasn't in Yankee stadium. I did it a better way with my imagineatinn and my little bats on the floor of my living room in Carson City. It doesn't get any better than that. Plus I had bragging rights on my older brother who missed it. Never "42torymind my remarks to him caused jealousy and a fight. But that is another story.