June 6, 2010

"KINDA LIVE FOREVER":

Catching Perfection (YOGI BERRA , 5/22/98, NY Times)

As a catcher, you take responsibility for every pitch (except for the one that hits a batter in the back and starts a brawl -- that's just a pitcher losing his head). You have to know early on what's working for a pitcher. Larsen had a good fastball and curve and slider, just like Wells. Can you believe those guys came from the same high school? Anyway, Larsen threw 97 pitches and didn't shake me off once.

It's not always so easy, because pitchers think they're so smart all the time. You have to handle each one differently. You have to know which guys you holler at, which guys you just pet.

Allie Reynolds, even when he threw those two no-hitters in 1951, would try to get too cute with a big lead. Vic Raschi, you had to get on him. I'd yell at him, ''Pitching for 20 years and you still can't get the ball over.'' And he'd yell back, ''Get back behind the plate you . . .,'' finishing the sentence off with a word that can't be printed here.

Bob Turley was the opposite. He was a little wild, and I'd just pet him by saying, ''You're better than that.'' When Whitey Ford would throw those slow curves on 3-0, I'd lose it and let him hear about it. I'd really let him hear about it.

Larsen was a little different. You had to get on him a little bit. Remember that Ol' Gooney Bird -- that's what we called him -- had a good year for us and could throw with the best of them, but sometimes his mind wasn't in the game. In that same World Series, Casey Stengel pulled him in the second inning of Game 2 because he got behind a lot of those Dodger hitters and walked four batters. [...]

A perfect game is incredible, but one in the World Series is a miracle, and I'll always cherish it. Right after the game, I had Pete Sheehy, our equipment manager, bronze my catcher's mitt. It's one of my most treasured possessions, and it's going right in that museum they're building for me in Montclair. Like I said, perfect games kinda live forever.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 6, 2010 7:14 AM
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