Legendary pitcher keynote speaker at fund raiser
April 17, 2003
RENO — Don Larsen, who would know a thing or two about long odds, preached determination in front of about 300 people at a fund raiser Wednesday night in the convention center at the Eldorado Hotel and Casino.
Larsen, who remains the only pitcher in World Series history to throw a perfect game, was the keynote speaker at the 10th annual National Italian-American Sports Hall of Fame Italian Feed.
“If you work hard in anything in life, your day can become good,” said Larsen, who, other than his perfect game, had an average 14-year MLB career that was spent with seven different teams. “Everybody in this room has a talent. Everybody’s got to find it and work for it. It happened to me. It can happen to you.”
In Game 5 of the 1956 World Series, Larsen, who was then playing for the New York Yankees, pitched his legendary perfect game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Yankees eventually won the series. Larsen, however, was rocked in Game 2 and wasn’t sure if he would start Game 5.
“I didn’t even know I was going to pitch that day,” Larsen said. “But you can’t give up in this world. That much came true for me.”
Larsen’s speech was just one of several highlights on the night. Dozens of items were auctioned, anything from a signed ball from Larsen to a signed Muhammad Ali poster to a suite at Pac Bell Park for a San Francisco Giants-Oakland Athletics game in June. Portions of the proceeds benefit the UNR scholarship fund established by the NIASHF. The fund awards five incoming freshman with $2,000 annual scholarships.
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This year’s scholarship winners were Sara Almo and David Calvert of Reno High, Ryan Atkinson of Wooster, Christopher Arroyo of Reed and Andrew Nehrkorn of Bishop Manogue.
Larsen finished his career with an 81-91 record and an ERA of 3.78.