On an autumn day in 1956, pitcher Don Larsen stepped up to the mound for game five of the World Series, an epic battle between the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers. Larsen threw 97 pitches for 27 straight outs, bringing the Yankees a win and in the process, achieving every pitcher's dream-a perfect game. This week, the former Major League Baseball pitcher announced he will auction off his perfect game uniform to pay for his grandchildren's college education.
Steiner Sports Memorabilia will conduct the auction for Larsen's uniform beginning Oct. 8, the 56th anniversary of his perfect game-the sixth of 22 perfect games in MLB history and the only perfect game in World Series history.
Larsen originally loaned his uniform to the San Diego Hall of Champions when he was inducted in 1964 for his successful basketball and baseball careers at San Diego's Point Loma High School. But this spring, Larsen drove from his home in Hayden Lake, Idaho, to the West Coast to retrieve it.
At a news conference about the auction, announcer Bob Wolff played a grainy audio recording of his play-by-play broadcast from the game. Meanwhile, Larsen stared off into the distance as his wife, Corrine, held his hand under the table and smiled. Recalling the game, Larsen said that after he struck out Dodgers pinch-hitter Dale Mitchell on a called third strike, "it felt like the world left my shoulders then."
"When Yogi jumped on me, I probably still haven't woken up yet," Larsen said, remembering the iconic moment when Yankees catcher Yogi Berra jumped into his arms.
Those moments live with Larsen and fans alike. Matt Burcaw, 66, who attended the game in 1956 with his father and brother, said he'll never forget the silence among the 64,519 spectators packed into Yankee Stadium that day.
"The silence got louder and louder," he said. "It was uncanny."
Younger generations recognize the legacy of Larson's perfect game as well. "Even though Larson pitched his gem 31 years before I was born, I still find pride in his achievement," said Zach Ballance, a student at Wake Forest University, in Winston-Salem, N.C.
"It saddens me a little to know that this piece of history will no longer belong to Don Larson, but at least he will put the money towards a worthy cause," Ballance said.
Larson's two grandchildren, Cody and Justin, are the subjects of his cause and could benefit from as much as $2 million from the sale, estimated Steiner Executive Search Group Vice President Brett Schissler.
The Yankee pinstripes are in excellent condition, Larsen said. When asked how much he'd like to get for the uniform - which includes both the jersey and pants -Larsen said, "A million. Why go cheap?"
Despite the nonchalance of Larsen's expectations, they may actually prove feasible. Steiner Executive has already received several seven-figure offers. And in May, a jersey worn by Babe Ruth sold for more than $4.4 million. Baseball fans worldwide will have the opportunity to place bids online or via phone for 56 days after the auction begins.
Regardless of what happens at the auction, Larsen said, he'll always feel a sense of proud ownership over the uniform.
"It's still mine," he said. "I'm still inside it."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.