Yankees Vault: Mantle's catch saves Larsen's perfecto

March 10th, 2022

MLB.com is digging back into its massive video vault to uncover classic plays that you have loved, forgotten about or, perhaps, are discovering for the very first time. Watch these moments and many, many more on the MLB Vault YouTube page.

Oct. 8, 1956: The Mick keeps Larsen's perfecto bid alive
Mickey Mantle frequently referred to Don Larsen's perfect game -- the only in World Series play -- as "the biggest game I ever played in." The superstar Yankees center fielder helped keep the righty's historic bid alive in the sixth inning. With one out, the Dodgers' Gil Hodges roped a hard drive that appeared ticketed for extra bases. But Mantle raced the ball down, outrunning the drive in Yankee Stadium's spacious left-center-field gap. Mantle "could run like a deer," an appreciative Larsen later recalled.

Sept. 29, 1987: Donnie Baseball sets slam record
Don Mattingly established a Major League record (since tied by Travis Hafner) when he belted his sixth grand slam of the season in a 6-0 victory over the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. Mattingly's slam snapped a tie with Ernie Banks (1955 Cubs) and Jim Gentile (1961 Orioles), and it came off Bruce Hurst of the Red Sox. It was also the 10th grand slam of the season for the Yankees, equaling a Major League record set by the Tigers in 1938.

Aug. 19, 1997: Boggs takes the mound
Wade Boggs provided fans with a reason to stay up late during a West Coast blowout, fulfilling a dream by bringing his knuckleball to the mound for one scoreless inning in a 12-4 loss to the Angels. Boggs issued a walk, induced a pair of ground balls and then struck out Todd Greene. He'd take the mound once more, in 1999 as a member of the Devil Rays, on his way to Cooperstown.

May 15, 1984: Mattingly legs out inside-the-parker
Don Mattingly finished his career with 222 home runs, and here's the only one that stayed inside the fences. The Hit Man put the finishing touches on a 9-6 Yankees win in the Bronx when he laced a ball just past the outstretched glove of A's right fielder Garry Hancock and into the corner. Hancock's momentum took his body way past where the ball settled, and Mattingly was already rounding third by the time Hancock recovered, racing in for an easy inside-the-park home run.

Sept. 7, 1978: Randolph's 5-RBI night sets off 'Boston Massacre'
The 1978 Yankees had trimmed a once seemingly insurmountable 14-game July deficit to the rival Red Sox in the American League East standings to just four games by the first Thursday in September, but they still had work to do when they showed up to Fenway Park for a huge four-game series.

Second baseman Willie Randolph helped the Bronx Bombers make a statement in the series opener, driving in five runs amid a 15-3 drubbing of the Sox. The Yanks went on to sweep the series by a combined score of 42-9, setting up a tie atop the AL East standings and, eventually, a one-game tiebreaker (aka the "Bucky Dent Game") in October. Sportswriters quickly coined this series "The Boston Massacre" after the pinstripes left town.

Oct. 10, 1998: El Duque delivers seven scoreless
Months removed from a harrowing journey from Cuba, Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez was unflappable in his postseason debut, spinning seven scoreless innings in Game 4 of the 1998 American League Championship Series. The '98 Yankees are rightfully remembered as a juggernaut, having won 114 games in the regular season and 125 overall, but Hernandez's clutch performance saved the Bombers from going down 3-1 in the series vs. Cleveland.

“I’ve watched him pitch all year, and I’ve never seen him tense,” the Yankees’ Chili Davis said that night. “With the rest he had, you knew he’d have a good fastball. When you’ve thrown a fastball by [future Hall of Famer Jim] Thome, you’ve accomplished something.”

Without El Duque, we might remember those Yankees more like the 2001 Mariners, a club whose fantastic 116-win regular season fizzled out shy of its ultimate goal. The Yanks didn’t lose again that year, defeating Cleveland in six games and going on to sweep the Padres in the World Series.

April 23, 2000: Bernie, Posada make switch-hit history
The 2000 season was a roller coaster ride for the Yankees as they sought a third straight World Series title; the club busted out for wins in 11 of its first 14 games on the schedule, and then memorably lost 15 of its last 18 contests before the postseason.

This memory is from when things were rolling in April. The Bronx Bombers prevailed in a 10-7 slugfest over the Blue Jays thanks to two homers apiece from Jorge Posada and Bernie Williams. Not only did Posada and Williams each homer twice; they each belted a dinger from both sides of the plate, marking the first time in AL/NL history that a pair of teammates achieved that switch-hit feat in the same game.

Williams later told MLB.com that he and Posada were challenging each other to go deep during the contest. Fittingly, the pair are tied for the ninth-most games in history (eight) with a homer from both sides of the plate.

Aug. 19, 1985: Griffey Sr. shows Jr. how HR robberies are done
Ken Griffey's son famously climbed the Yankee Stadium outfield wall to take away a homer, but dad showed a then-15 year old Junior how it was done with this underrated web gem from the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.

The Yanks clung to a 6-5 lead over Boston in the top of the ninth when Marty Barrett skied a ball to the short left-field corner at the Stadium. Griffey, reading the ball's flight all the way, leapt and snagged Barrett's fly just before it landed in the seats, snatching the potential game-tying blast before Rich Bordi struck out Tony Armas in the next at-bat to seal the win. The inning capped the Yankees' huge four-game sweep of the Red Sox, but New York finished the season two games back of first-place Toronto in the American League East standings.

Oct. 22, 1996: Cone leads Yankees to win over Braves
With the Yankees down 2-0 in the World Series, David Cone allowed only one run over six gritty innings, leading the Yanks to a momentum-shifting win in Atlanta.

Oct. 6, 1978: Munson's homer puts Yanks ahead
With the Yankees down 5-4 in the bottom of the eighth, Thurman Munson hit a clutch two-run homer off the Royals' Doug Bird, giving the Bombers the lead in Game 3 of the 1978 ALCS.