Yogi, Larsen to attend 'perfect' viewing
By DAVID PORTER
Associated Press Writer
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- It is one of sport's most enduring images: New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra leaping into Don Larsen's arms after the final out of the pitcher's perfect game in the 1956 World Series.
For decades, it also was considered one of the few images that survived from that day - black-and-white highlight reels of the last inning were common, but footage from the original broadcast of the entire game was assumed to be lost forever.
Then, an Illinois sports film collector revealed last year that in the early 1990s he had acquired a kinescope of the television broadcast that featured all but the first inning of Game 5 between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Yankees.
On Friday night, Doak Ewing will show the recording in public for the first time, to an audience at the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center at Montclair State University that will include Larsen, Berra and Bob Wolff, who did the original radio broadcast.
It will be the first time Larsen and Berra see the game since they played in it.
"I'm anxious to see it," Berra said Thursday. "I want to hear the play-by-play, see the commercials. It got a lot of reaction from people, it was amazing. A lot of them said they saw it and want to see it again."
The 80 tickets, priced at $300 each, sold out "in a hurry," according to David Kaplan, the museum's director. Nostalgia buffs are coming from as far away as Seattle and Kansas City, he said. A portion of the ticket sales will go to the museum and to the Don Larsen Foundation, which donates to several charities, including the ALS Association.
The evening will begin with a baseball-style buffet, followed by the game and then a question-and-answer session with Larsen, Berra and Wolff.
"It'll be just like playing hooky from school and going home and sitting in your living room and watching the game on television, with the original commercials," Ewing said.
The broadcast found its way into Ewing's hands via a circuitous path.
According to Ewing, an Alaska man acquired the recording while serving in the armed forces overseas. It was a common practice in the 1950s for the networks to send kinescopes - made by using a movie camera to film a television broadcast directly off the screen - of the World Series to U.S. forces to watch, with the condition that they be destroyed afterward.
The Larsen game managed to survive, and from Alaska made its way to an Oregon flea market, where a collector noticed it and notified Ewing.
Ewing, founder of Rare Sports Films Inc. of Naperville, Ill., didn't show it publicly or reproduce it for fear of having it pirated, he said.
He said he has approached the major networks as well as YES, the Yankees' television network, but has not reached a deal to have the game shown on TV.
"There's interest and we've talked to him, but at this point we have nothing in place," YES spokesman Eric Handler said Thursday.
Berra still recalls what he said to Larsen after the Yankees won the '56 Series in seven games and Larsen was named MVP.
"I told him I could have won the car if he hadn't pitched the no-hitter," Berra said with a laugh. "But it was great."