AP File photo via San Diego Union Tribune of Don Larsen pitching his perfect game.
AP File photo via San Diego Union Tribune of Don Larsen pitching his perfect game.

Baseball: The Perfect Game

Don Larsen pitching his perfect game. Photo Credit: AP file photo via San Diego Union Tribune at http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sports/aztecs/sd-sp-larsen-1008-story.html.
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About This Episode

There may be no more difficult accomplishment in all of professional sports than pitching a perfect game. To succeed, a pitcher needs to face a minimum of 27 batters over 9 or more innings and not let a single one reach base by either a hit, a walk, or any other reason. It’s only been done 23 times out of more than 200,000 games played during the 140-year history of Major League Baseball – and only once in a World Series. This week, hosts Chuck Nice and Gary O’Reilly find out what it takes to throw a perfect game, including Don Larsen’s epic outing in the 1956 World Series, when the New York Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers. Helping them out are Neil deGrasse Tyson and Houston Astros Announcer and 2005 World Series winner Geoff Blum. First up, you’ll hear Neil break down the statistics of just how rare a perfect game really is. Next, the guys turn their attention to Larsen’s performance, which is even more remarkable when you consider that it took him just 97 pitches to beat a Dodgers lineup that included 4 Hall of Famers: Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella, and Duke Snyder. After that, we turn to another pitcher who threw a perfect game: Randy Johnson, who at 40 years old became the oldest to do so. Geoff, who once hit a home run off Johnson, explains how “The Big Unit’s” 6’10” height and long arms let him release the ball 3-4 feet closer than other pitchers and from a different angle, forcing batters to adjust their hitting style in a futile attempt to hit the dominant Hall of Famer. You’ll also discover what happened when one of Johnson’s 95mph fastballs hit a pigeon that was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and learn about Jim Abbott, the Yankee pitcher who threw a no-hitter in 1993 despite having only one hand.

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