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This day in Yankees history: Don Larsen achieves World Series perfection

Plus, Joe Torre’s manages his final game in pinstripes.

WORLD SERIES - Brooklyn Dodgers v New York Yankees Photo by: Diamond Images/Getty Images

The 2020 postseason is under way! The Pinstripe Alley team is going to continue to keep these daily posts that highlight a few key moments in Yankees history on a given date, as well as recognize players born on the day. Let’s take a trip down memory lane.

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This Day in Yankees History (Oct. 8)

93 Years Ago

The famed Murderers’ Row team swept the 1927 World Series, clinching the Yankees’ second championship, and ensuring they’d go down as one of the most storied and fearsome squads ever assembled. How they won their final game, however, wasn’t quite so in keeping with their powerhouse reputation. The Yankees loaded the bases with no one out in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game Four against the Pirates’ Johnny Miljus.

The righty then proceeded to strike out Lou Gehrig and Bob Meusel in succession, coming within a hair’s breath of dramatically escaping the jam. But, against Tony Lazzeri, Miljus uncorked a wild pitch, which allowed Earle Combs to scamper home with the decisive run. In some non-existent Hollywood version of this team’s final triumph, Lazzeri would undoubtedly smash a grand slam, but no, the 1927 Yankees closed out the World Series on another player’s mistake.

81 Years Ago

The 1939 Yankees completed yet another World Series sweep, this one of the Cincinnati Reds, to give the franchise its fourth consecutive title (and become the first team in major league history to accomplish that feat). With two runners on in the top of the 10th inning in Game Four, with the score knotted 4-4, Joe DiMaggio hit a single to right that scored Frankie Crosetti. An error in right field also opened the door for Charlie “King Kong” Keller to head home, where he barreled into Reds catcher Ernie Lombardi, knocking the ball loose and Lombardi momentarily senseless.

With Lombardi dazed, DiMaggio managed to score all the way from first, giving the Yankees a three-run lead that would hold up in the bottom half of the inning. The play became known as “Lombardi’s swoon,” but knowing what we now about head injuries, it was very possible that Lombardi got concussed. To add insult to injury, he was charged with an error on the play as well. Thankfully, he recovered and continued a Hall of Fame career.

64 Years Ago

One of baseball’s signature moments took place on this date in 1956, as the Yankees’ Don Larsen became the first (and only) pitcher to hurl a perfect game in the World Series. The Yanks defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers 2-0 in Game Five to take a 3-2 series lead. They’d go on to seal their 17th championship in Game Seven.

The clip of catcher Yogi Berra leaping into Larsen’s arms at the end of the perfecto has become an indelible image in the game’s history. Vin Scully has the call:

25 Years Ago

For Yankees fans of a certain age, this moment might sting, but was formative for those who followed the team in the early 1990s. Winning the first-ever American League Wild Card in 1995, the Yanks faced off against Ken Griffey Jr. and the Seattle Mariners in the Division Series.

Unfortunately, the Bombers blew a 2-0 series lead and then lost an epic Game Five in 11 innings. The Yankees had actually rallied to take a 5-4 lead in the top of the 11th, relying on Jack McDowell, a starter who’d come out of the bullpen following an then-unknown Mariano Rivera, to close out the series. With two runners on, Edgar Martinez came to the plate and this happened:

However, as painful as that was in the moment, Yankees fans can look back on it with a sense of quirky nostalgia, because they know what’s about to happen in 1996 and beyond.

13 Years Ago

On this date in 2007, the Yankees were bounced from the playoffs by the Cleveland Indians. I know what you’re thinking: another playoff loss? When did “This Day in Yankees History” get so pessimistic? Well this is noteworthy because it marked the final game Joe Torre would manage in pinstripes, bringing to an end a 12-year run as skipper that saw the Yankees return to the pinnacle of the baseball world. The team appeared in six World Series under his stewardship and won four of them. Torre went on to manage the Los Angeles Dodgers for three years before hanging up the uniform and taking a high-ranking position in the Commissioner’s Office. And hey, he’s still got that Bigelow Tea money rolling in. Not bad for a kid from Brooklyn.

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Former Yankees born on this day include Antoan Richardson, who played for the Yankees in 2014 and scored on Derek Jeter’s walkoff hit in the captain’s final game in Yankee Stadium. Richardson turns 37.

Also born on this day: Cody Eppley (who pitched for the Yankees from 2012-13); Bryan Little (played for the Yanks in 1986); Mike Morgan (pitched in the Bronx in 1982); Paul Schreiber (1945); Ping Bodie (1918-21); and Larry McClure, who had literally one Major League plate appearance in 1910. He struck out.

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We thank Baseball-Reference and Nationalpastime.com for providing background information for these posts.