Pinstripe Alley kicks off our Yankees Top Moments Tournament by going back to the very beginning in the Founding to 1959 bracket. Vote in the poll below for which moment you think deserves to advance to the next round.
(#2) Don Larsen's perfect game
Don Larsen wasn't the ace of the 1956 Yankees' staff. The 27-year-old San Diego native made just 20 starts all season and gave up four walks and four runs in an inning and two thirds in game two of the World Series. Fans had to feel more than a bit nervous on October 8th when he took the Yankee Stadium hill for Game Five with the Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers tied at two wins apiece. Two hours and nine innings later, though, Brooklyn's line score was zero-zero-zero and Yogi Berra was jumping for joy into Larsen's arms after catching the only perfect game in postseason history.
Even as Larsen cut through a Dodger lineup that featured four future Hall of Famers, victory was never a sure thing. Sal Maglie nearly matched his performance allowing just five hits and two runs over eight strong frames. A Mickey Mantle homer in the fourth and a Hank Bauer RBI in the sixth were the difference as Larsen remained unscathed into the ninth. Carl Furillo led off with a fly out to right then Roy Campanella grounded to second. Dale Mitchell struck out swinging for the final out on a one-two pitch, Larsen's 97th of the afternoon.
Two days later the Yankees won a decisive game seven and earned their seventeenth World Championship. Larsen's is one of 21 perfect games ever thrown, and at the time it was the first in 34 years. A total of 53 more seasons would pass before a pitcher again managed a no-hitter in the playoffs when Roy Halladay did it in the NLDS in 2010, but no one else has touched October perfection.
(#7) Lou Gehrig's four home run game
In the early 1930's, matchups between the Yankees and Philadelphia A's seemed more like intra-squad scrimmages between American League All-Stars. On June 3, 1932, Lou Gehrig shined the brightest of them all when he became the third player and the first in the twentieth century to hit four home runs in a single game.
When the Yanks met the defending AL champs for the fourth game of an unusual six-game set at Shibe Park in Philly they held a 4 ½ game lead in the standings. The A's started righty George Earnshaw, who'd struggled early in the season and the Iron Horse quickly took advantage, smashing a two-run shot to left-center in the first inning before slugging two more bombs in the fourth and fifth. Gehrig faced reliever Roy Mahaffey in the seventh and went deep again to help the Yankees to a 12-10 lead. After grounding out in the eighth, Gehrig came to the plate once more in the ninth and narrowly missed the only five-homer game in baseball history when Al Simmons tracked down a long drive in the deepest part of center field, well over 400 feet from the plate.
On the back of Gehrig's historic day, the Yankees won the game 20-13, placing it among the highest scoring contests ever. Six future Hall-of-Famers - Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Earle Combs, Tony Lazzeri, Jimmie Foxx and Mickey Cochrane - went deep before a sparse crowd of 7,300. To date no other Yankee has hit four home runs in game and just thirteen more major leaguers have accomplished one of the rarest feats in baseball.
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