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    The greatest postseason performance in American sports history!

    1956 Don Larsen World Series Perfect Game Worn New York Yankees Cap with Extraordinary Provenance. Twenty-seven up, twenty-seven down. And this was no push-over of an opposing batting line-up, but rather the perpetual National League Champs, packed to the brim with future Hall of Famers: Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella. With the Series tied at two games each, Larsen understood he was just about the last man the Bronx crowd wanted to see on the mound in that crucial fifth game, having surrendered a six-run lead in just 1.2 innings of Game Two action just three days earlier, walking four Dodgers during the brief but painful debacle. But "redemption" is far too weak a term for what the lanky right-hander earned for this return to the mound. The proper word is "immortality."

    It took only ninety-seven pitches to complete his three flawless passes through the Brooklyn line-up, and only the great Pee Wee Reese was able to work him to a three-ball count. A called third strike on dangerous pinch hitter Dale Mitchell to end the game sent the Yankee Stadium crowd into pandemonium, and the image of Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra leaping into Larsen's arms remains one of the most indelible images in baseball history. The jerseys worn by each half of that battery sold at auction in 2012, jointly garnering more than $1.3 million. The ever-climbing trajectory of the sports collectibles market suggests that those figures would be dwarfed today.

    The two most famous photographs from that peerless contest on October 8, 1956 reveal one notable difference. As Yogi Berra leaps into Larsen's arms in celebration of pitching's greatest achievement on the sport's grandest stage, Larsen is wearing his cap. But in the photograph that appeared on the front page of many newspapers the next day, Larsen led from the field by a phalanx of fellow pinstripers, uniformed police and random spectators, Larsen is hatless.

    Now we know why. That item was already in the hands of a Boonton, New Jersey sporting goods store owner and jubilant Yankee fan named Joseph Marcello, the man seen smiling broadly at Larsen's left shoulder in the latter image. An included April 19, 1966 newspaper clipping finds a slightly graying Marcello holding the cap, and telling his side of the remarkable story:

    "'I climbed over seats, walked on top of the dugout and then jumped onto the field in front of Larsen. The poor guy almost had the uniform torn off his back.' Marcello said he didn't take the baseball cap from Larsen's head. 'Really, I didn't,' affirmed Marcello. 'With all the pushing and shoving and a lot of people just being satisfied to touch him, his baseball cap fell to the ground. So, I picked it up and held onto it.'"

    An even earlier but less detailed article pictures Marcello with the cap in 1961. Perhaps some collectors will recall that Larsen himself sold his bronzed spikes and glove from that day at auction back in 2002, and while a bronzed cap was part of the lot, the auction listing made a point of quoting Larsen: "The cap is a cap I had worn that day but not the one I had on at the end of the game, as that cap was torn off my head by a fan as everyone rushed out to greet me." As the years passed, Larsen himself got wind of Marcello's media appearances with his lost item. "I was told it was picked up by some guy in New Jersey," he said, lamenting, "Every picture I have of that day, my hat is gone." It should be noted that Marcello was not a hardliner on the finders-keepers policy, telling reporters, "He never asked for it, but if he had, I would have given it back to him, but only under one condition. Larsen would have had to come to my store for it." He never did.

    The offered cap is, of course, the standard format for the mid-1950's New York Yankees, deep navy wool with an "NY" logo above the visor and a "Tim McAuliffe" manufacturer's label at interior leather headband. Joining that tag are twin size "7 1/8" identifiers--one as a secondary tag and the other stamped beside "Pro KM Cap" imprint on the interior headband. A few inches of the headband, about a quarter of its circumference, has become loose from its stitching, but this does not affect the display in any way, nor does the cracking of the cardboard inside the visor. Until very recently, this cap was on loan for display in a very famous sports museum that has requested anonymity, but it is likely you are guessing its identity correctly.

    The relic's next home will be determined by a global audience of Heritage bidders, a contest to determine who among them is the most devout of Yankee collectors from that greatest decade in franchise history. Fall Classic perfection has happened only once, and your opportunity at ownership of this central artifact from that event might well see a similar frequency. Included in the lot is a folder of newspaper clippings referenced in the text, Marcello's program and ticket stub from the game, and a letter of provenance from the Marcello family. LOA from Heritage Auctions. Documentation as listed in lot text.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2020
    29th-30th Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 20
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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