Capitals

Larsen's perfect game uniform to hit auction

Larsen's perfect game uniform to hit auction

LITTLE FALLS, N.J. (AP) Don Larsen has the perfect way to pay for his grandchildren to finish college.

The 82-year-old former Yankees pitcher will auction off the pinstriped uniform he wore 56 years ago Monday when he threw the only perfect game in the World Series.

``I've been thinking about it for a bit,'' Larsen said. ``I'm not getting any younger and I don't know how much longer I'll be around. I want to make sure they can both go to college, which isn't cheap these days.

``So, I figured it was the right time.''

One of Larsen's grandkids is in college and the other is a freshman in high school.

On the anniversary of Larsen's greatest day as a pitcher, Steiner Sports Memorabilia announced it will auction off the famed uniform. Larsen was joined at the news conference by his catcher, Yogi Berra, at the Hall of Famer's museum and learning center at Montclair State University.

Larsen, who has kept the jersey in a closet in Idaho, was asked if he could fathom that his uniform could draw more in an auction than he made in his career as a major leaguer.

``It wouldn't take much,'' Larsen said. ``Because I didn't make much.''

A Babe Ruth jersey went for $4.4 million last year, so Steiner anticipates such a historic relic to draw at least seven figures.

``I had only worn it three times, but we were entitled to keep it,'' Larsen said. ``I kept in my closet and it was in great condition.''

There was only one downside. Larsen's hat fell off when Berra jumped into his arms. It was never recovered.

``I was told it was picked up by some guy in New Jersey, then supposedly donated to the (Baseball) Hall of Fame,'' Larsen said. ``Every picture I have of the day, my hat is gone.''

On Oct. 8, 1956, Larsen walked into Yankee Stadium for Game 5 of the World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers, having no idea he was about to create one of the most memorable moments in baseball history.

``It was a beautiful day and I felt great,'' Larsen said. ``I didn't know whether or not I was going to pitch. I came to the stadium early and as usual, Moose Skowron and Hank Bauer were there early ahead of me. I got to my locker and saw a ball in my shoe. I guess (third base coach) Frankie Crosetti was told to put it there.''

At that point, Larsen knew he was tabbed by manager Casey Stengel to start Game 5 with the series tied.

``I looked at the ball and took a big swallow,'' Larsen said. ``I said to myself, `Don't screw this one up.' I'm just glad Casey had the faith in me to give me the ball.''

Larsen certainly did nothing wrong that fateful day, throwing the only perfect game in the World Series, helping the Yankees capture the 1956 World Series title. After the seven-game win, he earned the series MVP.

``He didn't shake me off once,'' Berra said. ``He was throwing pretty hard and had a good breaking ball that day. Everything was working for him.''

Both pitcher and catcher remember it vividly, of course. Such an unforgettable moment on such an unforgettable day. The sentimentality, for sure, remains.

``Yogi and I are the only ones left from that game,'' Larsen said. ``I'll never forget the day when I came to the Yankees. One of the things I knew, was that I was going to pitch to one of the greatest catchers ever. Yogi means as much to me today as he did then. As time goes on, it hasn't been forgotten and it will never be forgotten even after we're gone.''

Berra said that he never dreamed that memorabilia from his playing days would become so valuable.

``If I knew then what I know now,'' he said, ``I would have saved all my uniforms instead of giving them back.

``And I had a lot of them.''

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Las Vegas changes iconic welcome sign to include no capital letters

las_vegas-sign-no_caps-stanley_cup_final.jpg
Twitter/City of Las Vegas

Las Vegas changes iconic welcome sign to include no capital letters

The Washington Capitals official #ALLCAPS hashtag started in 2017 during a Caps-Penguins game after the Pittsburgh Penguins' official Twitter account decided to tweet in all lowercase letters during the game. 

Now, as the Caps look to face the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final ahead of Game 1 Monday, Vegas has followed suit by changing their iconic "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign to include only lowercase letters, a jab at the Capitals #ALLCAPS.

Additionally, the City's official Twitter account has changed their handle to "the city of las vegas" without any capital letters and the hashtag #nocaps.

It will be interesting to see how the Capitals' official Twitter will respond...

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: X-factors that could swing the series

Stanley Cup Final 2018: X-factors that could swing the series

The Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights have met only twice in their history. Neither team was expected to get to this point so you can go ahead and throw away the stats, the matchups, the data and the history. A new story will be written in the Stanley Cup FInal.

Who will ultimately win the Cup? Here are four factors that could ultaimtely swing the series.

1. Goaltending

The Caps have faced elimination only twice in the playoffs and Braden Holtby did not allow a single goal in either game. He enters the Stanley Cup Final having not allowed a single goal in 159:27. Andrei Vasilevskiy began to take over the series with his performance in Game 3, Game 4 and Game 5, but Holtby outplayed him to finish off the series in Washington’s favor.

Marc-Andre Fleury, meanwhile, has been the best player in the playoffs. Not the best goalie, the best player.

Through 15 games, Fleury has a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. As good as Vegas has been this postseason, Fleury has stolen several games for the Golden Knights.

Both of these goalies are certainly capable of stealing away a series for their respective teams. Which one will outplay the other?

2. Time off

Rust is a real thing in hockey. Just any team when they come off a bye week. When the Caps and Golden Knights take the ice on Monday, May 28, it will be the first game for Vegas since May 20. That’s over a week off.

Yes, getting rest at this time of the year is important, but too much rest leads to rust and that should be a major concern for Vegas, especially for a team that was playing so well and has so much momentum.

In the Eastern Conference Final, the Caps stunned the Tampa Bay Lightning by winning both Game 1 and Game 2 in Tampa. Could they do it again with a rusty Vegas team? Will the long layoff cost the Golden Knights one or even two home games to start the series?

3. The McPhee factor

Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee was the Caps’ general manager for 17 years starting with the 1997-98 season. He was fired in 2014, but was ultimately responsible for building the core of the Washington team that is now headed to the Stanley Cup Final.

But that also means he knows those players very, very well.

Nicklas Backstrom, Travis Boyd, Andre Burakovsky, John Carlson, Christian Djoos, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, Chandler Stephenson, Jakub Vrana, Tom Wilson, Braden Holtby, Philipp Grubauer and of course, Alex Ovechkin were all drafted by McPhee. Jay Beagle was also signed by as an undrafted free agent.

A general manager does not sign or draft anyone without knowing a good deal about the kind of player they are. Does that give McPhee a bit of an edge when it comes to facing the Caps?

4. Speed

The Golden Knights are fast. When the expansion draft was all said and done it was clear McPhee had targeted two things specifically: defensemen and speed. The result is an exceptionally fast Golden Knights team that no one has been able to keep up with so far.

Vegas' speed mixed with the goaltending of Fleury has proven to be a lethal combination. Their mobility makes it hard to get the puck from them or even keep it in the offensive zone. Once they get it, it’s going down the ice very quickly and you better keep up with them or it's going to end up in the back of the net. Once they build a lead, it is very difficult for teams to dig their way out as evidenced by their 10-1 record this postseason when scoring first.

Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh were both fast teams as well and the Capitals were able to combat that with strong play in the neutral zone. The 1-3-1 trap has given opponents fits and generated a lot of odd-man breaks for the Caps. Will it be as effective against a speedy Vegas team?

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