NEW YORK — Don Larsen, the journeyman pitcher who reached the heights of baseball glory when he threw a perfect game in 1956 with the New York Yankees for the only no-hitter in World Series history, died Wednesday night. He was 90.
Larsen’s agent, Andrew Levy, said the former pitcher died of esophageal cancer in hospice care in Hayden, Idaho. Levy said Larsen’s son, Scott, confirmed the death.
Larsen was the unlikeliest of characters to attain what so many Hall of Famers couldn’t pull off in the Fall Classic. He was 81-91 lifetime, never won more than 11 games in a season and finished an unsightly 3-21 with Baltimore in 1954, the year before he was dealt to the Yankees as part of an 18-player trade.
In the 1956 World Series, won in seven games by the Yankees, he was knocked out in the second inning of Game 2 by the Brooklyn Dodgers and didn’t think he would have another opportunity to pitch. But when he reached Yankee Stadium on the morning of Oct. 8, he found a baseball in his shoe, the signal from manager Casey Stengel that he would start Game 5.
“I must admit I was shocked,” Larsen wrote in his autobiography. “I knew I had to do better than the last time, keep the game close and somehow give our team a chance to win. Casey was betting on me, and I was determined not to let him down this time.”
The Dodgers and Yankees split the first four games and Stengel liked the deception of Larsen’s no-windup delivery. The manager’s instincts proved historically correct. The lanky right-hander struck out seven, needed just 97 pitches to tame the Dodgers and only once went to three balls on a batter — against Pee Wee Reese in the first inning.
In winning 2-0, the Yankees themselves only managed five hits against the Dodgers’ Sal Maglie, but scored on Mickey Mantle’s home run and an RBI single by Hank Bauer.
Larsen, selected MVP of the 1956 Series, had two close calls. In the second inning, Jackie Robinson hit a hard grounder that was deflected by third baseman Andy Carey to shortstop Gil McDougald, who threw out Robinson. In the fifth, Mantle ran down a long drive to left-centre field by Gil Hodges. With two outs in the ninth, pinch-hitter Dale Mitchell took a third strike, completing the perfect game and sending catcher Yogi Berra dashing out from behind the plate to leap into Larsen’s arms.
“When Yogi Berra jumped on me and grabbed with the bear hug, my mind went completely blank,” Larsen wrote in his autobiography. “I was under friendly attack … I was swept into the dugout.”
Their celebration remains one of baseball’s most joyous images.
“Don’s perfect game is a defining moment for our franchise, encapsulating a storied era of Yankees success and ranking among the greatest single-game performances in Major League Baseball history,” the Yankees said in a statement. “The unmitigated joy reflected in his embrace with Yogi Berra after the game’s final out will forever hold a secure place in Yankees lore. It was the pinnacle of baseball success and a reminder of the incredible, unforgettable things that can take place on a baseball field.”
Born Aug. 7, 1929, in Michigan City, Indiana, Larsen moved with his family to San Diego, where he went to Point Loma High School, the alma mater of another Yankees perfect game pitcher, David Wells. Larsen played basketball and baseball and was signed by the St. Louis Browns for a $500 bonus and $150 a month.
After two minor league seasons, Larsen hurt his arm and then spent two years in the Army. He was promoted to the Browns in 1953 and moved with the team to Baltimore the following year. He struggled through his 3-21 season but two of the wins were against the Yankees, who insisted he be included in the trade that also brought pitching star Bob Turley to New York.
Larsen started 1955 with the Yankees’ farm team in Denver, where he went 9-1 and developed the no-windup delivery. Promoted to the majors midway through the season, he finished 9-2 for New York. Larsen went 11-5 the next season and enjoyed the party atmosphere that came with playing for the Yankees, often running with Mantle, Billy Martin and Whitey Ford in their late-night rounds of the city. On the night before his perfect game, he had been out on the town, believing he was not in Stengel’s plans for the next day.
Larsen pitched in three other World Series. He won Game 2 of the 1957 series against Hank Aaron and the Milwaukee Braves, but lost the decisive Game 7. He shut out the Braves 4-0 on six hits in Game 3 of the 1958 Series, when New York beat Milwaukee in seven games, and was back in the Bronx with the San Francisco Giants for the 1962 Fall Classic.
Pitching against the Yankees on Oct. 8, the sixth anniversary of his perfect game, he won in relief at Yankee Stadium. After the 1959 season, he was traded to Kansas City in a deal that brought Roger Maris to New York. With the A’s, he went 1-10 in 1960, a reminder of his dreadful season with the Orioles. He was sent back to the minors where he became a relief pitcher and then moved on to the Giants, Chicago White Sox, Houston, Baltimore and the Chicago Cubs.
Larsen retired in 1967 with an 81-91 record over 14 major league seasons. He later worked as a liquor salesman and paper company executive. When David Cone tossed a perfect game for the Yankees during the 1999 season, Larsen was in attendance after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.
No other pitcher has thrown a perfect game in the post-season, but in 2010 the Phillies’ Roy Halladay pitched a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds during the National League Division Series.
“They can never break my record,” Larsen would say of his game. “The best they can do is tie it. October 8, 1956, was a mystical trip through fantasyland. Sometimes I still wonder whether it really all happened.”
Late on Wednesday night, Cone tweeted “RIP my friend” with a photo of himself, Wells and Larsen together on the field at Yankee Stadium.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Don Larsen, who remained a welcome and familiar face at our annual Old-Timers’ Day celebrations in the decades following his playing career,” the Yankees said. “He will be missed.”
In addition to son Scott, Larsen is survived by his wife of 62 years, Corrine, daughter-in-law Nancy, and grandsons Justin and Cody.
Funeral arrangements were pending.
Naylor: David Braley symbolized the past 30 years of the CFL – TSN
How to sum up David Braley’s meaning to the Canadian Football League?
Braley, the Ontario-based businessman and former Senator who passed away Monday at the age of 79, was at various times the owner of three teams in a nine-team league, including the Toronto Argonauts in whom he held a secret ownership position at the same time he owned the BC Lions.
He served as the CFL’s chairman of the board and took on the commissioner’s role in 2003 after he led the charge to oust Michael Lysko in 2002.
And until recently, when poor health interfered with his ability to participate in the business of the CFL, he was a powerful presence among league governors, so much so that every commissioner had to be aware of where Braley stood on key issues and be prepared to deal with being on the opposite side.
It became a common refrain among people within the league that there would be no Canadian Football League without Braley. And yet, he was both loved and loathed by those within it. Some considered him the league’s biggest benefactor, while others considered him a ruthless profiteer.
Braley grew up in Hamilton, Ont., rooting for the Tiger-Cats. He had played football in high school and at McMaster University, and was a Tiger-Cat season ticket holder before, during and after his ownership of the team, which went from 1989 until he sold the team in 1992 over his opposition to the CFL’s plan to expand to the U.S.
He re-entered the CFL officially as the savior of the Lions in late 1996, one of three CFL franchises insolvent by the end of that season. Braley claimed a federal cabinet minister had warned him that the CBC would bail as a TV partner if the league couldn’t field a Vancouver franchise the next season, so he stepped up.
When the Toronto Argonauts went bankrupt in 2003 under the ownership of Sherwood Schwartz, Braley was front and centre in the search for new owners, trying to broker a deal with Toronto businessmen David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski.
The pair balked at the losses they’d be inheriting with the Argonauts. So Braley offered to be their partner, an arrangement that was known only by then-commissioner Tom Wright and select others before it was revealed in a 2009 Globe and Mail story.
The league subsequently passed bylaws requiring internal disclosure of all financial arrangements between teams. Braley eventually took over full ownership of the Argos in 2010, then sold the team to Bell and Larry Tanenbaum in 2016.
In its darkest hours, the CFL could always count on Braley, or so it seemed. He was there when the Lions and Argos needed new ownership, but also at various times over the past three decades when teams found themselves short on cash.
It’s believed he loaned money to every team in the CFL at least once, except for the Edmonton Eskimos. That includes to the Tiger-Cats during the years after he sold them to a non-profit group when he would continue to quietly write cheques to help the team make payroll. Braley’s name may not have been on the franchise, but he remained its primary financial backer.
That kind of financial influence in such a small league granted him enormous power, and Braley was never shy about trying to wield his influence over the direction of the league.
He also appeared to be rewarded with a disproportionate number of occasions to host the Grey Cup, which, in most circumstances, is a surefire money-maker. The Braley-owned Lions or Argos hosted the game five times over a 10-year period from 2005 to 2014.
Braley had created his wealth from scratch, taking a loan to purchase an industrial distributing company from a former neighbour, then shifting its focus into becoming a global auto parts manufacturing giant.
He was a well-known for his frugality as his wealth, a pattern demonstrated when he purchased the Tiger-Cats from an ailing Harold Ballard for $500,000, financed with proceeds from the team’s five-year sponsorship agreement with Player’s Tobacco.
That frugality was legendary in the CFL. Despite his wealth, Braley was known to be reluctant to spend on what he considered unnecessary frills for his teams and the league.
His views on the business of the CFL were rooted in traditional approaches to marketing and selling tickets, and he privately railed against the league putting every game on television, favouring blackouts because he believed it would mean better business at the turnstiles.
He had waxed about selling the Lions for at least a decade, engaging with different groups of potential owners but always deciding either the timing or the group itself and what it was willing to pay for the team wasn’t right.
That seemed to do the franchise no favours as he continued to hang on as both his own health and that of his franchise was slipping.
Though the belief in Vancouver is that any Lions business turnaround has to start with new ownership, Braley’s ownership has been viewed as a safety net for the franchise during the pandemic, given his willingness to financially stabilize the franchise.
He was believed to be among the owners who were willing to play a shortened 2020 season, even without government support.
Braley in so many ways symbolized the past 30 years of the CFL: rooted in tradition, dependent on philanthropy and run by a powerful few.
There will never be another like him.
Edmonton Oilers dressing room icon Joey Moss dies
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Gretzky’s call has been difficult the last two years with Alzheimer’s and the complications involving Down syndrome at this stage of Moss’ life and especially this year with his hip surgery and the isolations involving the hospital and the facility relating to the coronavirus pandemic.
COVID-19, however, was not a factor in his death.
“Janet & I are saddened to learn about the passing of Joey Moss. Not only was Joey a fixture in the Edmonton dressing room, he was someone I truly considered a friend. We will miss you Joey and you will always live on through our memories. Our thoughts are with Joey’s loved ones,” Gretzky said in a statement.
“On behalf of all the players who had the honour to get to know him, we are so saddened to hear the news of Joey’s passing. We were all lucky enough to be part of his life for a lot of years. His love for life always brought a smile to anyone who met him. Whether it was a coffee before practice or a big hug after a great win or a tough loss, he would put life in perspective. He will be missed but not forgotten, Once an Oiler always an Oiler. RIP Joe.”
There was almost certainly never a member of a sports franchise custodial staff so loved by a community or as famous as Joey Moss.
There are a lot of much less famous members of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame than Moss, who was inducted in 2015.
Stafford, whenever asked about Joey Moss, always made the point:
“He’s not a locker room attendant to anyone who knows him and works with him. He’s part of the team. In a lot of ways he’s the face of the Oilers.”
Source: – Edmonton Sun
Longtime Oilers locker room attendant Joey Moss dies at 57 – Sportsnet.ca
EDMONTON — Joey Moss, a longtime Edmonton Oilers locker room attendant, died Monday at the age of 57.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) October 27, 2020
Moss was born in 1963 with Down Syndrome, the 12th of 13 children to Lloyd and Sophie Moss.
He became the Oilers’ locker-room attendant in 1984 when superstar Wayne Gretzky was dating his older sister, Vikki. Moss joined the Edmonton Football Team in 1986 and held roles with both organizations for over 30 years.
Heartbreaking to hear about Joey Moss passing away. He is the soul of the @EdmontonOilers. I’ll remember him singing the anthem w/pride, getting fired up about wrestling and always asking if I combed my hair with a pork chop. My deepest condolences to the Moss family. pic.twitter.com/Ssa0ZBcoSn
— Andrew Ference (@Ferknuckle) October 27, 2020
He worked with the CFL club from the opening of training camp in June until mid-August, at which time he headed over to the Oilers locker-room for the NHL season _ capturing the hearts of Edmonton sports fans along the way, particularly with his enthusiastic participation in the national anthem before the start of every hockey game.
Moss helped the training staff with such tasks as filling water bottles and equipment duties, but became more than an attendant over the years by providing inspiration to everyone in the locker-room.
Moss was awarded the NHL Alumni Association’s “Seventh Man Award” in 2003, for those “whose behind-the-scenes efforts make a difference in the lives of others.”
A little numb and horribly saddened by the news… but #yeg legend Joey Moss has passed away at the age of 57. Not even sure where to start… but condolences to the entire Moss, Eskimo & Oiler Families. He left a wonderful legacy & will be deeply missed by so many. #RIPJoeyMoss pic.twitter.com/GvyeqTFjiB
— Bryn Griffiths (@BrynMightyMouth) October 26, 2020
In October 2008, Moss was honoured with a mural in Edmonton for his service with both clubs. In 2012, he received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal honouring significant contributions and achievements by Canadians, and was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.
Moss also inspired the Joey Moss Cup, a tournament held at the end of Oilers’ training camp.
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