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About Jon
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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
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4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) discussing politics
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Final Pitches
2004-06-21 15:49
by Jon Weisman

From the New York Times:

The full-count changeup was a foot outside, and Hideki Matsui, the tying runner who could break Eric Gagne's consecutive-saves streak, took the pitch. After the plate umpire, Jeff Kellogg, called it a strike, Joe Torre recalled anothe game-ending dagger in the Yankees-Dodgers rivalry.

"Sometimes people get caught up in the moment," Torre, the Yankees' manager, said Sunday after their 5-4 loss at Dodger Stadium. "I guess some people are still wondering if that pitch to Dale Mitchell (to complete Don Larsen's perfect game) was a strike."

From Eric Enders, per my request:

First, there's no way the Matsui pitch was a foot outside the strike zone that was in effect for this game. It was maybe 10 inches off the plate, and 4 inches outside the home plate ump's strike zone. It wasn't a strike, but they're overstating things.

In 1956 there was no centerfield camera, so we really have no way of knowing whether the Dale Mitchell pitch was a strike. In the existing footage it looks highly questionable, but it's far from conclusive. From what I've read, almost everyone who witnessed it thought it was a bad call. Few of them made a big deal out of it, since it didn't really matter in the grand scheme of things.

The Mitchell pitch seems like it was one of those that often gets called a strike when it shouldn't - a half-hearted check swing on a pitch that's almost, but not quite, over the plate. The batter doesn't go around enough for it to be called a swing, and the pitch is not quite close enough to be a strike - but the combination of the two is usually enough to get him called out.

I did a little bit of research, and here's what people said:

Rube Walker: "I have to say that Babe Pinelli's called third strike on our final batter, pinch hitter Dale Mitchell, was actually a ball." (from Danny Peary's "We Played the Game")

Pinelli: Mitchell "thought it was a lousy call, but he was crazy to take it. Pictures later proved that it was a strike." (from Glenn Dickey's "The World Series.")

Pinelli: "It was a fat pitch. No hitter will see a much better strike." (N.Y. Times, 10/9/56)

Pinelli: "It was a fast ball. It was right over the middle -- an easy call. It was the first perfect game I've ever seen, of course." (L.A. Times, 10/9/56)

Frank Finch, L.A. Times: "It looked a little outside, but Mitchell took it." (L.A. Times, 10/9/56)

Fred Lieb: "It was a pitch shoulder high, and Mitchell stood at the plate grousing at the umpire's verdict." ("The Story of the World Series")

Dale Mitchell: "'The ball was this far outside,' said Dale, measuring a distance of almost a foot." (N.Y. Times, 10/9/56)

Here's one of my favorite baseball facts: The two rarest things ever to occur in the World Series were Larsen's perfect game and Bill Wambsganss's unassisted triple play in 1920, a line drive off the bat of Clarence Mitchell. So both of these extremely rare events were the result of an out made by a Dodger batter named Mitchell.

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