This was 10 years ago, and the voice on the other end of the telephone sounded gruff and weary. As many often do when a stranger calls, he asked, “How did you get this number?”
That’s always a tricky one to answer. You never know if you’re spoiling a confidence. But before I could worry about that, the voice softened and strengthened and a loud laugh landscaped by so many New York nights out of the past took over.
“I’m kidding. I’m glad you called,” Don Larsen said. “I was 81-91 as a major league pitcher. If that’s all people knew about me, nobody would ever call.”
“You want to talk about my year with the Orioles, right?”
More laughter. He was 3-21 with the Orioles in 1954, when he walked 88 hitters and struck out only 80. There are a lot of ironies involved when you talk about Don Larsen, who died at 90 on New Year’s Day. He was not cut out of classic Yankees cloth. His Yankees battery mate, Yogi Berra, subsisted on a chocolate drink called Yoo-Hoo; Larsen was partial to stronger concoctions.
And he was wild. Man, was he wild. He came to the Yankees in an epic 17-player deal on Nov. 17, 1954, and he would drive his new manager, Casey…