Dale Mitchell might best be remembered as the final out in Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series. He was much more than that.
In college at the University of Oklahoma, Mitchell set still-standing batting average records for the single-season (.507), and career (.467). The Sooners’ home park is named in his honor.
Mitchell broke into the big leagues with the Indians in 1946, hitting .432 (19-for-44) in 11 games. In his first full season in ’47 Mitchell hit .316 and garnered votes in MVP balloting.
The following year the Indians were World Series champs. Mitchell’s 204 hits was second-most in the American League as he hit .336 while striking out only 17 times in 656 plate appearances. In ’49 Mitchell was an All Star for the first time, leading the AL in hits and triples while reducing his strikeouts to 11 in 685 plate appearances.
In 4,358 plate appearances – 3,984 at bats – Mitchell walked 346 times while striking out only 119 times. The 2.91 walk-to-strikeout ratio is the 8th best best in MLB history.
That outstanding batting eye is important to keep in mind. Flash forward to 1956. The Dodgers bought Mitchell from Cleveland at the end of July for their post-season run. With the Yankees’ Don Larsen twirling his perfect game, Brooklyn skipper Walt Alston sent Mitchell up to pinch hit with two out in the 9th. Umpire Babe Pinelli was behind home plate for the final time of his career, though he would finish the series on the bases. On a pitch that appeared up and out of the strike zone, Pinelli’s called strike three on Mitchell, possessor of one of the keenest batting eyes in the history of the game.
In the collection is this government postcard signed by Dale Mitchell.
Pinch hit Larson no hitter. Baby Pineli punched him out on a pitch that was outside the strike zone