Harvey Frommer / Records & Feats / Yankees
David Cone, The Perfect Game, July 19, 1999
by Harvey Frommer
It was "Yogi Berra Day" at the Stadium. Don Larsen was among the 41,930 in attendance. He was there to throw out the first pitch to Berra who caught his "Perfect Game in the 1956 World Series.
The plan was for Larsen to tarry a while in seat behind home plate, watch a few innings and then go back to his hotel and relax. But Larsen, like all the others in the park that day, was riveted to what Yankee starter David Cone was doing to Montreal.
In 95-degree heat, Cone threw all manner of pitches from an assortment of arm angles. Even a 33 minute rain delay in the third inning had little effect on his peerless pitching performance. In the eighth inning, Montreal's Jose Vidro grounded sharply up the middle. Second baseman Chuck Knoblauch, moving right, backhanded the ball and threw him out.
"When Knoblauch made the great play," Cone said, "I decided there was some kind of Yankee aura. Maybe this was my day,"
As the ninth got underway, Cone was given a standing ovation as he walked to the mound. The large crowd remained standing. Cone got the final out - Orlando Cabrera, a popup. Cone grabbed the sides of his head, dropped to his knees and was quickly lifted by his teammates onto their shoulders.
The Yankees had a 6-0 win. Cone had only the 14th perfect game in modern history, the second thrown by a Yankee pitcher in 14 months. He hadn't gone to a three-ball count all day. He threw 88 pitches, 68 strikes, getting thirteen fly outs, ten strikeouts, and four groundouts.
"You probably have a better chance of winning the lottery than this happening," he said. "The last three innings, that's when you really think about it. You can't help feel the emotion of the crowd. I felt my heart thumping through my uniform."
A Press Release from the Office of the Mayor read:
"Today was a perfect day for New York and the New York Yankees. David Cone made baseball and Yankees history not only by pitching just the 16th perfect game ever and the third in the history of the Yankees, but also by doing it with Don Larsen and Yogi Berra present on Yogi Berra Day. David Cone is one of the greatest pitchers in baseball and he is also one of the finest gentlemen in the game."
Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani over-reached some more on July 20, proclaiming that day "David Cone Day" in New York City.