Don James LARSEN (1929 - 2020)

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Service Information
Yates Funeral Homes & Crematory
744 N 4Th St
Coeur D Alene, ID
83814
(208)-664-3151
Memorial service
Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020
11:00 AM
Christ the King Lutheran Church
1700 Pennsylvania Avenue
Coeur d'Alene, ID
View Map
Celebration of Life
Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020
6:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Capone's Pub and Grill
9520 N Government Way
Hayden, WA
View Map
Obituary

LARSEN, Don James

AUGUST 7, 1929 - JANUARY 1, 2020

The only player to have ever pitched a perfect game in the World Series has died. Don James Larsen, a longtime resident of Hayden Lake, Idaho, passed away peacefully in his sleep on January 1, 2020 at Schneidmiller Hospice House in Coeur d'Alene. He was 90 years old. Don is survived by his wife of 62 years, Corrine Breuss Larsen, son Scott (Nancy) Larsen of Rathdrum, and grandsons Justin (Rathdrum) and Cody (Post Falls).

Don was born in Michigan City, Indiana on August 7, 1929. The son of James H. and Charlotte Larsen, Don was predeceased by his older sister, Joyce Bernard. His childhood years included many happy days fishing for salmon and trout on Lake Michigan and participating in a wide variety of athletic activities including archery, basketball, baseball, swimming and table tennis. He was the table tennis youth champion in 1940. His father was an accomplished amateur baseball player and introduced Don to baseball. Don had fond memories of playing catch with his father outside the Michigan City home where he spent his first fourteen years before moving to San Diego, California in 1944. "My dad taught me how to throw a pitch in Michigan City, Indiana," Don said.

An outstanding athlete in both basketball and baseball at Point Loma High School in San Diego, Don graduated in 1947 at age 17 and was offered basketball scholarships to major universities. Don chose a professional baseball career instead and signed a contract with the St. Louis Browns. In July of 1947, he reported to the Aberdeen Pheasants of the Class C Northern League. Over the next several baseball seasons, Don played for other St. Louis Browns minor league teams, including the Globe-Miami Browns, the Springfield Browns, the Wichita Spudders and the Wichita Indians.

Don served two years in the United States Army during the Korean Conflict. While stationed in Hawaii, he trained troops and honed his athletic skills while playing on the post's baseball and basketball teams. Following his discharge in 1953, Don made his Major League Baseball debut with the Browns against the Detroit Tigers on April 17, 1953.

Over the next fifteen years, Don played for the St. Louis Browns (1953-1954), the New York Yankees (1955-1959), Kansas City Athletics (1960-1961), Chicago White Sox (1961), San Francisco Giants (1962-1964), Houston Colt 45's/Astros (1964-1965), Baltimore Orioles (1965) and Chicago Cubs (1967). Throughout his career, Don earned a reputation as a playful, fun-loving and loyal teammate who never met a curfew he wouldn't break.

Don appeared in five World Series, winning two World Series Championship rings. He achieved baseball immortality on October 8, 1956 by pitching the only perfect game in World Series history, a feat that has never been duplicated. His performance earned him the World Series MVP Award for which he also received a 1956 Corvette.

Don was an imposing figure on the mound, standing 6'4", weighing 225 pounds with a 37 1/2 inch sleeve. His novel and unique no-windup delivery was credited with being the key to his World Series perfect game success. Don frequently explained, "Yogi (Berra) had a lot to do with it. He had played against the Dodgers many times before so he knew where to pitch them." Asked recently of the significance pitching the perfect game had on his life, Don said, "I think about it every day. It was the best thing that ever happened to me except for Corrine!"

Don retired from baseball in 1968 and began a long, successful career as an outside salesman for Blake, Moffitt and Towne, papermaking pioneers in San Jose, California. He retired from that position in 1992. Since 1993, Don and Corrine have enjoyed life on Hayden Lake in their beautiful home overlooking Windy Bay. Don remained active doing personal corporate appearances, as well as many baseball card shows across the nation. Don's happiest hours throughout his years in Idaho have included time spent fishing on Hayden Lake in his pontoon boat with his son Scott, and his two grandsons, Justin and Cody. Don was a proud member of the Coeur d'Alene Anglers Association and was inducted into the San Diego Hall of Champions in 1964.

Don loved and looked forward to returning annually to the New York Yankees Old-Timers' Day where he was a fan favorite always greeted with a raucous standing ovation. He also participated in annual meetings of the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in St. Louis. Don planned to attend both events again this year. Don and Corrine recently celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary on December 7th with a dinner at Capone's Pub and Grill in Hayden, his favorite local restaurant.

The Larsen family wishes to thank the numerous individuals from Kootenai Hospital, Cancer Care Northwest Post Falls and Hospice of North Idaho who became part of "Team Larsen," providing Don with excellent care up to, and including, his final hours at Schneidmiller Hospice House. Don really appreciated their care and concern during these recent months.

Arrangements are provided by Yates Funeral Home in Hayden, Idaho. On-line registry and condolences may be found at www.yatesfuneralhomes.com

MEMORIAL SERVICE: Saturday, February 1, 2020 11:00 a.m. Christ the King Lutheran Church, 1700 Pennsylvania Avenue, Coeur d'Alene, ID. Luncheon to follow in the church hall

Friends and family are also invited to: "Celebrating a Baseball Life" Saturday, February 1, 2020, 6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Capone's Pub and Grill, 9520 N. Government Way, Hayden, ID. Hosted by the Eddie Gaedel Society

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to: Don Larsen Memorial Room Schneidmiller Hospice House, 2290 West Prairie, Coeur d'Alene, ID, 83815 (208) 772-7994 hospiceofnorthidaho.org

Published in Spokesman-Review from Jan. 22 to Jan. 29, 2020
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