Baltimore’s Never Been Perfect

Dallas Braden is the toast of the proverbial baseball town these days after hurling a perfect game on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays.

On Tuesday, he appeared on David Letterman to deliver the Top Ten list of his thoughts during the perfect game, including “Grandma’s right. Stick it, A-Rod.”

The Orioles are one of 11 major league teams to have never played in a perfect game, win or lose. However, the Birds have a connection of sorts to baseball’s most famous perfect game.

Don Larsen, the only pitcher to toss a perfect game in the postseason, played for the O’s during their first season in Baltimore, 1954. It’s hard to believe it was only two years before his legendary effort in the 1956 World Series for the Yankees given that Larsen set an entirely different type of record for the Orioles: most losses in a season.

Larsen went 3-21 in 28 starts for the ’54 Orioles with a 4.37 ERA.  The O’s traded Larsen to the Yankees that November in a deal that reads like a novel relative to most transactions.

From Baseball Reference:

Traded by the Baltimore Orioles with players to be named later, Billy Hunter and Bob Turley to the New York Yankees for players to be named later, Harry Byrd, Jim McDonald, Willy Miranda, Hal Smith, Gus Triandos and Gene Woodling. The New York Yankees sent Bill Miller (December 1, 1954), Kal Segrist (December 1, 1954), Don Leppert (December 1, 1954) and Ted Del Guercio (minors) (December 1, 1954) to the Baltimore Orioles to complete the trade. The Baltimore Orioles sent Mike Blyzka (December 1, 1954), Darrell Johnson (December 1, 1954), Jim Fridley (December 1, 1954) and Dick Kryhoski (December 1, 1954) to the New York Yankees to complete the trade.

Larsen was 45-24 in five seasons with the Yankees with a 3.50 ERA. The Yankees appeared in the World Series in four of Larsen’s five seasons with the team, winning two. And that, my friends, is one of many reasons Orioles fans hated the Yankees from the very start.

Larsen returned to Baltimore in 1965 and pitched in a relief role.

Check out Sports Illustrated’s photo gallery of Modern Era Perfect Games.

I should note that former Oriole Dennis Martinez pitched a perfect game for the Expos in 1991. Montreal broadcaster Dave Van Horne provided the memorable coda: “El Presidente, El Perfecto.”

Said Vin Scully, broadcasting the game for the Dodgers, in his typically understated way: “What a day.”

Martinez pitched in Baltimore for 10 seasons, totaling a league high 14 wins in 1981 and finishing fifth in the American League Cy Young voting. Martinez led the league in games started, complete games (18), and innings pitched in 1979. He is a member of the Orioles Hall of Fame.



About mptaylor11

Roar from 34, a Baltimore Orioles Blog. Humor. History. Homerism. Since 2006.
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