Don Larsen was far from perfect in Baltimore

It took one day for the Major League Baseball playoffs to produce a legendary moment. Roy Halladay became only the second pitcher in baseball history to throw a postseason no-hitter.The other was former Oriole Don Larsen, who pitched a perfect game for the New York Yankees in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series.

While Halladay’s postseason success seemed almost pre-ordained after a career-long playoff drought – although granted, not to this level – Larsen’s success was anything but.

Two years before his World Series perfect game, Larsen set the Orioles record for losses in a season with 21. Think about it, during the franchise’s first-ever season in Baltimore Larsen established a mark for futility that hasn’t been matched since. Among individual Orioles records, only Bob Turley’s mark for walks in a season, 181, has stood as long.

[Larsen and Joe Coleman also established the more obscure record of most losses to one team in 1954, Larsen with five against the White Sox and Coleman with five against the Yankees.]

Keep in mind, however, that the 1954 Orioles were a bad ball club, one that finished 54-100. The ’54 Orioles’ .351 win percentage is better than only one other Baltimore team – the 1988 Orioles (.335).

For comparison’s sake – and with full acknowledgment that it’s difficult to make judgments across time – Larsen’s 1954 numbers aren’t altogether different than Brian Matusz’s numbers in 2010 aside from strikeouts (where Matusz’s total is much better).

ERA: Larsen – 4.37 ERA in 28 starts; Matusz 4.30 in 32 starts

WHIP: Larsen – 1.498; Matusz 1.343

H/9: Larsen – 9.5, Matusz 8.9

While he turned it on down the stretch, Matusz already had nine losses halfway through his 32 starts.

All of which goes to show (jokingly) that we can expect a post-season no-hitter from Brian Matusz in two years’ time.

Related Reading:

Legendary Washington Post sports writer Shirley Povich’s story about Larsen’s perfect game

Baltimore’s Never Been Perfect (Roar from 34)

Looking Back on Better Days: The Orioles’ First No-Hitter (Roar from 34)

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About mptaylor11

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