That’s why I was happy to receive a package from Don Roth of New York. Don’s a retired high school teacher and baseball coach. Don is a longtime baseball card trader and friend, and we meet every March during spring training — not at a ballpark, but generally at an International House of Pancakes restaurant in Lake Wales, Florida.
We’ve been sending packages to one another for more than 15 years. Today was an example of perfect timing. I received an envelope from Don that included an Associated Press wire photo from October 5, 1956 — Game 2 of the World Series at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field. This photo shows New York Yankees reliever Tom Morgan (28) catching a ball flipped to him by manager Casey Stengel. Leaving the mound was departing pitcher Tom Sturdivant, who started the bottom of the third inning in relief of Tommy Byrne.
While the photo caption notes that Sturdivant tossed the ball to Morgan, the body language of Stengel suggests he was the one doing the flipping.
Morgan did his job, getting Pee Wee Reese to pop out to Jerry Coleman at second base.
But while the Yankees tied the score in the top of the fourth inning, the Brooklyn Dodgers scored a pair of runs thanks to Gil Hodges’ two-run double. That ended Morgan’s day, as Stengel yanked him in favor of Bob Turley.
Morgan was saddled with the loss as Brooklyn won 13-8 to take a 2-0 lead in the World Series. The Yankees used seven pitchers that day. The New York starter, who lasted just 1 2/3 innings, was a journeyman right-hander named Don Larsen.
Larsen would last much longer in his next Series start; in fact, he would be perfect. For Larsen, starting Game 5 after the Yankees fought back to even the Series, would pitch the only perfect game in the Fall Classic’s history on October 8, 1956.
This wire photo captures the frustration of manager and pitcher from an important postseason game 59 years ago. It’s certainly a treasure.
Thanks for the memories, Don.