“#The magical feeling around David Cone’s perfect game”
June 10, 2020 | 9:42am
With the two men who were battery mates for the only perfect game in World Series history watching, Cone entered the record books against the Expos, adding a forever moment to an already impressive career.
“You probably have a better chance of winning the lottery than this happening, but what an honor,” Cone said.
July 18, 1999 was Yogi Berra day – the Hall of Fame catcher had recently reconciled with owner George Steinbrenner after a lengthy feud – and Cone made it extra special in a 6-0 victory over Montreal in front of 41,930 in The Bronx. On the final out, an Orlando Cabrera popup in foul territory third baseman Scott Brosius caught, Cone dropped to his knees and into the waiting arms of catcher Joe Girardi. He was soon mobbed by teammates, just as David Wells was the year before when he threw his perfect game. Cone’s teammates lifted him onto their shoulders, his glove lifted skyward, and carried him to the edge of the dugout as the Stadium crowd roared its approval.
“I already talked to Boomer and he welcomed me to the club,” Cone said, referring to Wells, a member of the Blue Jays at this time. “He said he wanted to fly down here and party with me all night.”
There were few tense moments for Cone. He needed just 88 pitches to go the distance, 68 of which were for strikes. He struck out 10. The 36-year-old right-hander never got to a more unfavorable count than 2-0 and never went to three balls on a batter. There was a 33-minute rain delay during the bottom half of the third inning. There was also a long delay in the second, when the Yankees scored five runs, two apiece coming on two-run homers by Ricky Ledee and Derek Jeter. Second baseman Chuck Knoblauch preserved the perfect game in the eighth inning, getting to a hard-hit Jose Vidro ball up the middle with a backhand.
“As soon as he hit it, I said, ‘There it goes,’” Cone said. “When Knoblauch made the great play, I decided there was some kind of Yankee aura. Maybe this was my day.”
There was one anxious moment in the ninth, when Ledee seemed to lose a Ryan McGuire fly ball in the sun for a moment. But Ledee was able to make the play and Cone completed the brilliant afternoon by getting Cabrera on a foul popup to third base.
“The last three innings, that’s when you really think about it,” Cone said. “You can’t help feel the emotion of the crowd. I can feel my heart thumping through my uniform.”
It was perhaps fitting that Cone was perfect on the same day that Larsen and Berra were at the ballpark. Larsen delivered his gem in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series against the Dodgers. This time, he was in the crowd, watching baseball history as a spectator.
“I was just thinking about my day,” Larsen said. “I’m sure David will think about this every day of his life.”
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