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1950 World Series

"Philadelphia's Whiz Kids, who capped an exciting pennant race with the Phillies' first flag in 35 years, carried the excitement into the World Series but couldn't quite catch up with the Yankees." - Total Baseball (1999)

PINSTRIPE PERSPECTIVES: Events off the field

The Korean War began after North Korean forces known as the "Democratic People's Republic" crossed the 38th parallel dividing North and South Korea. The attack, aimed at reuniting the country under Communist rule from the North, took place on June 24th and was a complete surprise to the American administration. Many feared that this attack heralded the beginning of World War III. Under the flag of the United Nations, sixteen countries sent military forces to South Korea's defense, most coming from the United States. Many other countries contributed equipment, supplies, and other support. North Korea's allies were the Soviet Union, which supplied it with arms, and China, which later sent many troops.

Two Puerto Rican nationalists, Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola, attempted to assassinate President Truman on November 1st. Both arrived in Washington D.C. the day before from the Bronx in New York City, where they were active in the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party. Both felt the assassination would call attention to their home country and advance the cause of Puerto Rican independence. In the ensuing gun battle, both traded gunfire with White House policemen and several Secret Service Agents. Torresola was killed in the melee, but Collazo reached the steps of Blair House before collapsing with a gunshot wound to the chest. He was later sentenced to death. President Truman himself commuted the sentence to life imprisonment in 1952.

In June 1950, three former agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and television producer Vincent Harnett, published "Red Channels", a pamphlet listing the names of one-hundred fifty-one writers, directors and entertainers who they claimed had been members of subversive organizations (before World War II) but had not been blacklisted. The names had been compiled from FBI files and a detailed analysis of the "Daily Worker", an underground newspaper published by the American Communist Party.

FALL CLASSIC: Philadelphia Phillies (0) vs. New York Yankees (4)

The Philadelphia Phillies climbed to the top of the National League, thanks to a clutch performance down the home stretch by twenty game winner Robin Roberts. Roberts pitched three times in the last five days of the regular season and although he managed to nail down the National League pennant, the marathon had left him unavailable for a Game 1 start. Manager Eddie Sawyer was left with a limited rotation due to the late-season loss of Curt Simmons (seventeen victories) to the Army and recurring injuries to rookie pitchers Bob Miller and Bubba Church. The Philly skipper shocked everyone after nominating a thirty-three year old right-hander named Jim Konstanty, who had not made a single start during the 1950 regular season. He did however appear in seventy-four games and the standout reliever was 16-7 with a 2.66 earned run average. Konstanty was confident and certainly up to the challenge (and what a challenge it would be).

His opponent was none other than the defending World Champion New York Yankees who had swept six previous World Series (from the Pirates, Cardinals, Cubs and Reds) in twenty-four years and captured twelve World Series titles to date. Many felt that another sweep was a foregone conclusion, but Philadelphia was determined to prove their critics wrong. Konstanty rose to the occasion and pitched a superb outing against the American League champions while allowing only one run and four hits in eight innings. Unfortunately for the Phillies, New York's Vic Raschi spun a two-hit, 1-0 shutout for the opening lead.

By now, Roberts was well rested and ready for Game 2. The Philadelphia ace went up against New York right-hander Allie Reynolds and neither blinked through a 1-1, nine inning standoff. So far, through two regulation games, there had been a total of three runs scored as the pitchers clearly dominated the contest (much to the dismay of the crowds). Joe DiMaggio added a fourth to the total after launching a leadoff homer in the tenth inning for a 2-1 triumph. Now down two games to none, the Phillies were desperate for an advantage on the mound and called upon an unlikely hero named Ken Heintzelman (a seventeen-game winner for the Phillies in 1949 but a lowly, 3-9 pitcher in 1950). Despite his regular season stats, the left-hander started beautifully in Game 3 against Eddie Lopat and carried a 2-1 lead going into the eighth inning. After retiring the first two Yankees, Heintzelman stuttered and walked three consecutive batters in the inning. Sawyer saw that it was time to make a change and called for Konstanty who induced Bobby Brown to ground to Granny Hamner. Unable to get a break, the Phillies' winced as their shortstop fumbled the ball, and the tying run scored. The Yankees continued their momentum in the ninth, as Jerry Coleman stepped up to the plate and sealed the 3-2 victory.

Despite being on the verge of another Yankees sweep, the Phillies had kept pace with the perennial champs and only lost by three consecutive one-run decisions (the closest of any contender in any previous New York rally). Their efforts however, would be in vain, as Casey Stengel introduced a young up-and-coming talent in Game 4. His name was Ed "Whitey" Ford and the rookie went 9-1 during the regular season after being called up from Kansas City of the American Association. After teammate Yogi Berra led off the Yankees' attack with a run-scoring single and a bases-empty homerun, Ford breezed into the ninth inning with a 5-0 lead. A shutout seemed inevitable for Ford, as he forced Andy Seminick to hit a textbook fly to left field. However, Gene Woodling dropped the ball and both Phillies runners scored. Reynolds came in to get the last out, making the New York Yankees 5-2 winners and repeat champions.

Woodling, who tied Granny Hamner for the World Series batting lead with a .429 average, was distraught over his failure to protect the shutout. Ford was less concerned and happy with the win (which would be the first of many in the Fall Classic). In fact, the Yankees newest ace would go on to set several World Series records. "The Chairman of the Board" as he would later be called, still holds the World Series records for most wins (ten) and most strikeouts (ninety-four).


The New York Yankees pitching rotation during the Series only allowed three (3) earned runs and finished the Fall Classic with a combined 0.73 ERA.

The last two National League teams without a home run during the Series were the Cincinnati Reds in the 1939 World Series (swept by the New York Yankees) and the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1927 World Series (also swept by the New York Yankees).


1951 World Series

"My best pitch is anything the batter grounds, lines, or pops up in the direction of (Phil) Rizzuto." - Teammate Vic Raschi

PINSTRIPE PERSPECTIVES: Events off the field

On May 12th, the United States military detonated the first hydrogen bomb on an uninhabited testing island in the Pacific. The development of an A-bomb by the Russians had convinced the U.S. to proceed with development of the H-bomb version, which was several times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on both Hiroshima and Nagasaki to prompt the end of World War II.

Remington Rand Corporation debuted the first commercial digital computer, called the "UNIVAC" (Universal Automatic Computer). The first "UNIVAC" was sold to the United States Census Bureau to assist in the storage, compiling and managing of the U.S. population data. It weighed some 16,000 pounds, used 5,000 vacuum tubes, and could perform about 1,000 calculations per second. "UNIVAC" was also used to predict the 1952 presidential election. No one involved in the project actually believed its prediction (based on 1% vote in) that Eisenhower would sweep. He did.

The Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) introduced its first color television broadcast across five American cities for two and a half hours a day. However, due to the proprietary system used by CBS, more than 10½ million monochrome sets in the United States were blind to these telecasts. In response to the company forcing their own receivers on the consumer, the National Production Authority issued Order M-90 prohibiting the manufacturing of color sets for general public sale. Two years later, during a Congressional hearing on March 25, 1953, CBS announced that it had no plans to resume its own proprietary color system and the NPA lifted its ban on receiver manufacturing the following day.

FALL CLASSIC: New York Giants (2) vs. New York Yankees (4)

The '51 season has been referred to by some as "The Season of Change," as it witnessed the departure of several of the game's veteran superstars and the introduction of a new generation of talent. Many of the big names from the previous two decades were nearing the end of their careers and the empty spaces on the lineup cards would need to be filled by players of the same caliber. Luckily for the managers (and the fans), there was no shortage of up-and-coming talent in the various farm systems around the league. Several new rookies on the scene included a young switch-hitter named Mickey Mantle and a phenomenal fielder named Willie Mays. The nineteen-year-old Mantle was called up to the big leagues from the Yankees Kansas City franchise and hit thirteen home runs in ninety-six games. Mays had been called up in late May by the Giants from their Minneapolis team (where he was batting .477) and the twenty-year-old responded with twenty homers of his own. It seems fitting that in their first year of professional play, both future Hall of Famers found themselves competing against one another in the biggest game of the year; the 1951 World Series.

The Giants had steamrolled their way to the Fall Classic and were determined to dethrone their world champion, cross-town rivals. Manager Leo Durocher's team had rallied to win the National League pennant after trailing the Brooklyn Dodgers by 13½ games. Beginning August 12, the Giants won sixteen consecutive outings and thirty-seven of their last forty-four to forge a tie for the top of the National League with Brooklyn. They went on to beat the Dodgers in a best-of-three playoff, ending with the infamous Thomson three-run homer off Ralph Branca that gave the Giants a 5-4 victory in the third game at the Polo Grounds. With Brooklyn out of the way, the Bronx was next and the Giants wanted to prove that the last team standing was truly "New York's baseball team."

Things continued to go the Giants way as they went on to shock the Yankees in a 5-1 Series opening triumph. Dave Koslo held the Yankees to just seven hits and Alvin Dark came up with a three-run homer. Monte Irvin was the game's "MVP" though, with three singles, a triple and the first Series steal of home plate since the Yankees' Bob Meusel snatched the bag in 1928. Eddie Lopat got his team back in the running in Game 2, while pitching a five-hitter and adding a run-scoring single in the 3-1 victory. However, the biggest play of Game 2 involved a devastating injury that would haunt the New York Yankees for years to come. Willie Mays had led off the top of the fifth inning with a high shot to right-center field, in what was to be an easy fly-out. Center fielder Joe DiMaggio prepared to make the catch while Mickey Mantle followed from right field in pursuit. According to several sources, Yankees manager Casey Stengel had instructed Mantle earlier to "take everything he could get" as "Joe D" was in the twilight of his career. The nineteen-year-old speedster pulled up at the last second as DiMaggio made the play and caught his foot on the wooden cover of a drainage outlet. His knee buckled forcing him out of the Series and instigating the start of several leg problems that would haunt Mantle for the rest of his eighteen-season career.

Game 3 remained anyone's for 4½ innings as the Giants held on to a slim 1-0 lead. All that would change though, as the National League champs would capitalize on a crucial error by their American League rivals. With one out in the fifth inning, Eddie Starky managed to coax a walk off of Series veteran Vic Raschi. The Yankees, thinking the Giants were about to play a "hit-and-run", "run-and-hit" or "straight steal", called for a "pitchout" and catcher Yogi Berra responded with a perfect throw to shortstop Phil Rizzuto in plenty of time to catch Stanky. However, the determined veteran kicked the ball out of Rizzuto's hand during the slide and scrambled up and onto third base. Instead of two out and nobody on, Stanky was standing firmly on third with only one out. Dark drove Stanky home on his next single and Whitey Lockman delivered the final blow; a three-run homer for the 6-2 victory at the Polo Grounds.

With a two-games-to-one lead in the Series and Games 4 and 5 also at home, the Giants were in a favorable position. Their momentum was slightly stalled though, as Game 4 was postponed for a single day due to rain. The inclement weather had allowed the Yankees to rest Game 1 loser Allie Reynolds and the "Bomber's" ace responded the following day with a clutch 6-2 win over the Giants' Sal Maglie. "Joe D" added his eighth (and final) World Series homer and the Yanks were back in business. The victory by Reynolds inspired his fellow "Pinstripes" and they went on to crush the Giants 13-1 in a Game 5 massacre. Yankees utility infielder Gil McDougald, who alternated between second and third for Stengel's club, nailed a bases-loaded home run in the third off Larry Jansen. The rocket, which broke a 1-1 tie, was only the third World Series grand slam (Cleveland's Elmer Smith in 1920 and the Yankees' Tony Lazzeri in 1936).

Game 6 was a real nail biter as both teams went head-to-head for over five innings. With the bases loaded and two out in the sixth inning, Yankees outfielder Hank Bauer stepped up to the plate against Dave Koslo, attempting to break through the 1-1 tie. For Bauer, it was the perfect opportunity to shake off his World Series despair. In thirty-eight previous at-bats in the Fall Classic, Bauer had collected only five hits (all singles), a .132 Series batting average and only one RBI in postseason play. This time the former United States Marine came through with "flying colors" with a bases-clearing triple. Then in the ninth inning, after the Giants closed within one and had the potential tying run in scoring position, a racing Bauer made a sensational 4-3 game-winning catch on a hit by pinch-hitter Sal Yvars.

Once again, the Yankees had ended the Giants "Cinderella" season. And although the Series was nothing compared to the National League playoff in terms of memorable moments ("The Giants Win The Pennant!"), it was a sweet ending for some and a new beginning for others. Game 6 marked the final Major League game for the Yankee Clipper, Joe DiMaggio, who was headed for retirement at age thirty-six. Mantle would appear in eleven more World Series, and Mays would compete in the Fall Classic three more times. The Yankees were now 14-4 in World Series appearances and 1951 marked the start of what would become their second dynasty.


The 1951 World Series was the first ever for future Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle and the final ever for soon-to-be Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio.

This was the eighteenth appearance by the New York Yankees in the Fall Classic, their fourteenth World Championship title, and their third consecutive Series victory. It was the thirteenth appearance by the New York Giants, their ninth loss, and their first appearance since the 1938 World Series.


1952 World Series

"The Yankees don't pay me to win every day, just two out of three." - New York Yankees manager Casey Stengel

PINSTRIPE PERSPECTIVES: Events off the field

After an eight-year study, scientist Jonas Salk finally developed a vaccine that prevented the crippling disease known as polio. Though he was hailed as a miracle worker and a national hero, Salk remained shy of the public eye. He declined to apply for a patent for the vaccine, saying that he was more concerned with people having access to it than the money it would bring him. His next project, one that lasted up until his death in 1995, was to find a cure for AIDS.

The 1952 Olympic games took place in Helsinki reflecting the attitudes of "East versus West" that had been spawned by the Cold War. The Soviet Union decided to rejoin the competition for the first time since 1912, although from a distance. Instead of joining the other athletes in the Olympic Village, the Soviets set up their own camp strictly for Eastern bloc countries near the Soviet naval base at Porkkala. All Russian athletes were then chaperoned by Soviet officials everywhere they went in an effort to prevent communication with athletes from the West.

FALL CLASSIC: Brooklyn Dodgers (3) vs. New York Yankees (4)

In what was now becoming expected, the New York Yankees returned for their eighteenth World Series appearance against their cross-town rivals, the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Bronx Bombers had finished off the Giants "Cinderella" season the year before and were determined to retain their title as the kings of the "Big Apple" baseball teams. Charlie Dressen's Dodgers were angered by the heavy favoritism that the Yankees received in the press and many fans had already crowned them as champions before the first pitch was even thrown. Their frustration was merited and inspired them to a 4-2 victory that featured a six-hit effort by Joe Black, who was coming off a 15-4 season in which he made fifty-six appearances (the first fifty-four coming in relief). Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider and Pee Wee Reese all supported the rookie's debut effort with home runs of their own.

Perhaps now the press would give the National Leaguers some respect, as Game 1 represented more than just an opening win. The Dodgers had made a statement and the Yankees were taking notice. Billy Martin was the standout in Game 2 and put the Dodgers back in their place with a three-run blast and a RBI single that backed up Vic Raschi's 7-1 performance. Not to be outdone, the Dodgers came back swinging in Game 3 and answered the Yankees challenge with a strong outing by Preacher Roe, who held the "Pinstripes" to a 5-3 loss. Once again, it was anybody's Series and pitching seemed to be the only deciding factor.

Allie Reynolds continued to tip the scales back and forth with a dominant 2-0 triumph in Game 4 that balanced the Series at two games apiece, but Carl Erskine answered back with a 6-5 win in the eleven-inning Game 5. The Dodger ace allowed only four hits and all five runs in the fifth inning, but permitted only one other hit, which was a bunt-single by Mickey Mantle in the fourth. Duke Snider, who wound up with four homers and eight runs-batted-in during the Series, hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning to counter a three-run blast from Johnny Mize in the Yankees' half of the inning.

The stalemate continued the following day when New York's Vic Raschi and Brooklyn's Billy Loes held each other scoreless for 5½ innings. Loes got the upper hand however, when Snider knocked a Raschi pitch into the right field bleachers to lead off their sixth inning. Unfortunately for the Dodger faithful, the 1-0 lead vanished immediately in the top of the seventh when Yogi Berra led off with a one-run blast, igniting a Yanks rally. Raschi knocked in the second run by singling off his adversary's knee and Mickey Mantle kept the momentum alive in the eighth inning with a homer of his own (the first of many). Raschi, working on a 3-1 lead, retired the first Dodger in the bottom of the inning, but the irrepressible Snider followed with yet another home run. After George Shuba doubled with two out, Allie Reynolds came in as relief. Reynolds, the Yankees' big winner in 1952 with twenty victories, struck out Roy Campanella to end the inning and, outside of allowing a walk to Carl Furillo, held the Dodgers to no runs in the ninth.

With the Game 6, Series-tying 3-2 triumph, the Yankees were once again ready to finish the job and add yet another World Championship to their mantle. In an unusual, but indisputable move Casey Stengel started Eddie Lopat against Game 1 winner and Game 4 loser, Joe Black. The veteran, bothered by shoulder problems, had won only ten games for the Yanks in '52 (after going 21-9 in '51), but it mattered little as the Yankees dominated the seventh inning thanks to Mantle and Gene Woodling, who both added homers for the 4-2 lead. Brooklyn almost took the lead after loading the bases when Furillo reached first base on balls, Billy Cox singled and Pee Wee Reese walked as well. Anticipating a disaster, Bob Kuzava was summoned from the bullpen. The left-hander rose to the occasion and got Snider to fly out to third, bringing up Jackie Robinson. With the count at 3-2, Robinson snapped a textbook pop-up towards the mound. Kuzava seemed confused about the location and Joe Collins, the man in position to make the play, lost sight of the ball. All the while, Dodger runners were tearing up the baselines with two crossing the plate and another rounding third. Billy Martin, who was caught in the middle at second quickly sized up the situation and made a miracle catch inches from the ground.

The phenomenal grab not only ended the chances of a Dodger comeback, but also inevitably sealed the Series victory for the defending champions. Despite their best efforts, "the Bums from Brooklyn" lived up to their nickname, as Kuzava remained in control the rest of the way. The loss was especially devastating after winning Games 1, 3 and 5 and the 4-2 triumph enabled Stengel to match Joe McCarthy's mark of managing a club to four consecutive World Series titles.


"Murderer's Row" had won four consecutive (1936-1939) World Series championships under Joe McCarthy and with this title Casey Stengel became only the second manager in Major League history with four (4) back-to-back championships (1949-1952).

The home run hit by Mickey Mantle during the eighth inning of Game 6 was significant because it was the first of his record eighteen (18) career World Series home runs.

Ralph Branca (who was on the Brooklyn Dodgers' roster, but did not play) was ejected during Game 7 of the 1952 World Series. In doing so, he became the first National League player ejected since Woody English during the 1935 World Series.


1953 World Series

"The New York Yankees had done it again. And so, too, had the Brooklyn Dodgers. Casey Stengel's Bronx Bombers had won the World Series for a record fifth consecutive time. The Dodgers had lost in the Series for the seventh time in seven chances." - The Sporting News

PINSTRIPE PERSPECTIVES: Events off the field

After three bloody years, one month, and two days of fighting, the Korean War officially ended. In the end the United States suffered 33,327 deaths and 102,000 wounded at a cost of $18 billion dollars. Under the terms of the cease-fire, Korea was re-divided at the 38th parallel (as it was the day the Communists had first attacked). Agreement was quickly reached in almost all areas, with the exception of a prisoner-exchange compromise. The United Nations forces refused to return prisoners who did not want to be repatriated and as a result, sporadic fighting continued over a two-year period until President Eisenhower threatened the use of nuclear weapons to achieve peace.

American Communist Party members turned spies, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, were executed on June 19th after being convicted of espionage for selling the formula for the atomic bomb to the Soviets. They were the first civilians put to death under the Espionage Act of 1917.

FALL CLASSIC: Brooklyn Dodgers (2) vs. New York Yankees (4)

In a classic rematch of the previous year's classic, "The Bronx Bombers" and "Dem' Bums from Brooklyn" returned for yet another "Subway Series". The Yankees were poised for their fifth consecutive championship title and the Dodgers were ready for revenge. Brooklyn had given their cross-town rivals a run for their money, but had come up short in Game 7 thanks to a miraculous catch by Billy Martin that stopped a late inning comeback. Many felt that this was their year as the pitching staff had performed exceptionally well during the regular season. Carl Erskine led the rotation with twenty victories. Russ Meyer went 15-5 and Billy Loes boasted a 14-8 record. Preacher Roe posted an 11-3 total, boosting his three-year mark to 44-8 and Clem Labine won ten games in relief and eleven outings overall. The veterans weren't the only ones contributing as rookie pitchers Johnny Podres and Bob Milliken both combined for a 17-8 mark. This solid lineup on the mound enabled Charlie Dressen's team to win the National League pennant race by a staggering thirteen games over the newly moved Milwaukee Braves.

The '53 American League representative was the typical Yankees team that featured strong performances on both sides of the plate throughout the regular season. Yogi Berra (who hit .296) and Mickey Mantle (who batted .295) both combined for two hundred runs-batted-in and Gene Woodling (.306) and Hank Bauer (.304) led the lineup in hitting. The Yankees top five pitchers were even better, with a 74-30 record. Whitey Ford, who had returned from a military tour of duty, led the staff with eighteen victories and veteran Eddie Lopat topped the league with a 2.43 ERA.

Game 1 of the '53 Series began as Game 7 in '52 had ended, with Billy Martin knocking the wind out of the Dodger's sails. The second baseman nailed a three-run triple in the first inning and went on to collect three more hits in the 9-5 opening victory. Berra and Joe Collins both hit homers for the Yankees, and Jim Gilliam, Gil Hodges and George Shuba contributed for the Dodgers. On a side note, Shuba's shot was the first "pinch-homer" by a National League player in World Series history, but the record did little to numb Brooklyn's pain. Martin continued to plague the Dodger's pitching rotation in Game 2 by adding a game-tying bases-empty homer in the seventh inning. Mantle also continued adding to his ever-growing post-season stats with a two-run drive that nailed down Lopat's 4-2 win over Preacher Roe.

Things changed dramatically in Game 3, as it was the Dodgers besting the Yanks on the phenomenal arm of Carl Erskine. Brooklyn's leading ace set a World Series record of his own with fourteen strikeouts (four of them versus Mantle) and MVP Roy Campanella finished the job with a tie-breaking homer in the eighth that lifted Brooklyn to a 3-2 victory. Hitting was the decisive factor for the Dodgers in Game 4 as the ever-present Duke Snider contributed two doubles and a home run along with Gilliam who had three doubles of his own for the 7-3 victory. Unfortunately, that was all they could muster and the Yankees would have little resistance for the rest of the contest.

Game 5 once again belonged to Billy Martin and Mickey Mantle, who both knocked one out of the ballpark on the way to an 11-7 twenty-five-hit blowout (Mantle's was a grand slam). Game 6 was a closer effort, but unbelievably, it would be Martin again who would seal his second Series victory in a row with the game-winning run in a 4-3 triumph. The combative second baseman had tallied twelve hits (a record), eight RBIs and a staggering .500 average against the Dodgers who had lost the Series for the seventh time in seven outings. The Yankees on the other hand, had won a record fifth consecutive title. They were fifteen for sixteen in World Series appearances and had kept the trophy in the American League clubhouse for the seventh year in a row.


The Brooklyn Dodgers batted .300 as a team, yet lost. This was the ninth time in World Series history where a losing team "hit better" and only the fifth time where a team batted at least .300.

On October 2,1953 (Game 3), Yogi Berra was struck twice by the pitcher, making him the first American League player in World Series history to be hit twice by a pitch during the same game.

During Game 3, Carl Erskine mowed down fourteen (14) batters for a new World Series single game record - one later beaten by Bob Gibson during the 1968 World Series.


1955 World Series

"Please don't interrupt, because you haven't heard this one before. Brooklyn Dodgers, champions of the baseball world. Honest." - Shirley Povich in the Washington Post (October 5, 1955)

PINSTRIPE PERSPECTIVES: Events off the field

Entrepreneur Ray Kroc opened the first McDonalds restaurant in Des Plains, Illinois initiating the world's largest and most successful "fast-food" chain. Even after McDonald's was well established, Kroc still attempted to move forward with German-tavern restaurants, pie shops and even theme parks, like Disneyland. No endeavor however, would match the success of the "Golden Arches".

After racing in Bakersfield, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, up-and-coming actor James Dean traded in his Porsche Speedster for a Porsche Spyder 550 called "Little Bastard". Later that year he was killed in a bizarre auto accident on his way to race in Salinas, California. "Rebel Without a Cause" (considered to be his greatest work) was released less than a month later to rave reviews.

America's greatest theme park, Disneyland, opened in Anaheim California with eighteen cutting-edge attractions, including the Jungle Cruise, Tomorrowland Autopia, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride and the Mark Twain Adventure. After years of construction, the ground-breaking visions of animation tycoon Walt Disney evolved into the creation of a Magical Kingdom that drew one million visitors in six months.

FALL CLASSIC: Brooklyn Dodgers (4) vs. New York Yankees (3)

For the third time in four years, Brooklyn and the Bronx went head-to-head in what was becoming as common an occurrence in the "Big Apple" as traffic. Whether the perennial champion Yankees, or their long-time rivals the Dodgers and Giants, the World Series (otherwise known the "Big Show") was becoming a New York institution and some writers joked that it should be given a permanent place on Broadway. The "Subway Series" as it was christened, was always a fan favorite and the '55 Series promised more competition than the previous meetings. Of the Dodgers' seven World Series setbacks, the last five had come at the hands of the Yankees. However, this year, the "Bums from Brooklyn" won ten consecutive games to start the season, managed a 22-2 record in the first four weeks and cruised to the National League pennant with a 13½ game lead over the second-place Milwaukee Braves. The Yankees had missed the previous year's Classic (despite winning one hundred three games) and were replaced by the Cleveland Indians. This season, they were back in top form and ready to add to their ever-growing collection of championships.

Don Newcombe, a twenty-game winner during the regular season, was called in for the Dodger start for Game 1. Despite a strong effort, the Yankees sluggers maintained the Brooklyn aces' winless Series streak as Joe Collins belted two home runs and rookie sensation Elston Howard (the first black Yankee) added a third. The Dodgers went down 6-5 and little would change the following day as Tommy Byrne, a thirty-five-year-old lefthander, held the Dodgers to only five hits and posted a 4-2 Game 2 winner. Just as the Brooklyn faithful were on the verge of giving up hope, an unlikely hero named Johnny Podres took the mound. Podres had struggled to a 9-10 record for Brooklyn and was set to go up against the Yanks' seventeen-game winner, Bob Turley. A better script could not have been written for the occasion as the young man (on his twenty-third birthday) lit up Ebbets Field with a clutch, 8-3 triumph that put his teammates back in the hunt.

The Dodgers' renewed momentum continued in Game 4 as Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges and Duke Snider all added homers for another 8-5 victory that tied the Series up at two games apiece. Brooklyn's train "kept-a-rollin" in Game 5 when rookie pitcher Roger Craig worked six-plus innings for a 5-3 decision that put the Dodgers ahead for the first time in the contest. Many fans had started to take notice and some predicted that this was the beginning of the end for the Yankees' dynasty. However, as history could have predicted, the Yankees showed why they had more banners than anyone and nailed starter Karl Spooner and relievers Russ Meyer and Ed Roebuck for a 5-1 Game 6 win that was complimented by a supreme, four-hit effort by Whitey Ford.

Dodgers' manager Walter Alston opted for Game 3 hero, Johnny Podres to close the deal in Game 7 while Yankees skipper Casey Stengel selected Game 2 winner Tommy Byrne. Both pitchers went head-to-head, holding each other scoreless for four innings, until Campanella doubled and scored on a single by Gil Hodges. The Dodgers continued to pick up the pace in the sixth as Pee Wee Reese added a clean single and Snider, attempting to sacrifice, reached base safely when he brushed the ball from Bill Skowron's glove while running down the line. Campanella came through a second time with a perfect bunt, moving Brooklyn's base runners to second and third. In an effort to prevent further damage the Yanks opted to intentionally walk Carl Furillo, as Bob Grim came in as relief. Hodges fell victim to the fresh arm and lofted a sacrifice fly. A walk to Don Hoak reloaded the bases, but Grim and the Yankees escaped when George Shuba, batting for Don Zimmer, grounded out. Nevertheless, the Dodger's lead had grown to 2-0. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Jim Gilliam moved from left field to second, and reserve Sandy Amoros replaced Gilliam in left. As the Bombers came to bat, Billy Martin drew a leadoff walk and Gil McDougald followed with a bunt single. Yogi Berra sliced a long drive just inside the foul pole in left field but Sandy Amoros charged the line and made a spectacular glove-hand catch. The winded outfielder followed with a picture perfect relay to Reese - who went to Hodges - who caught McDougald at 1st. The double-play was undoubtedly the most crucial of the entire Series as it prevented the Yankees from tying up the contest and having a runner in scoring position with no one out.

Despite surrendering eight hits and two walks, Podres managed to hold the "Pinstripes" at bay and entered the ninth inning with a two-run lead. Skowron started the Yankees' last at-bat with a putt back to Podres for the easy out. Next, Bob Cerv hit a fly ball to Amoros in left and Elston Howard grounded to shortstop Pee Wee Reese, who made the schoolboy toss to Hodges to end the game. And then it was over. The Dodgers had finally beaten the Yankees for their first World Championship title. The "Bums from Brooklyn" would win another National League pennant the following year, but their days were numbered and they would play only two more seasons in the "Big Apple" before moving to sunny California.


When Duke Snider went deep during the third and fifth inning of Game 5 he became the first and only player from either league to date with four (4) home runs in two different World Series.

The last time that a Brooklyn baseball franchise had won a World Championship was in 1900 when the team was called the Brooklyn "Superbas," the event was called the Chronicle Telegraph Cup, and the opponent was their fellow National Leaguers, the Pittsburgh Pirates. Therefore, the '55 championship tasted even sweeter to the Dodger faithful and forged some long-awaited memories including the dramatic catch by Sandy Amoros, the steal of home by Jackie Robinson and the most valuable pitching of Johnny Podres.


1956 World Series

"The Dodgers had their moments, all right, starting with a complete-game victory by Maglie in Game 1, continuing with a memorable comeback from a 6-0 deficit in Game 2 and ending with Labine's superlative effort in Game 6. But one of the special moments in baseball history, as supplied by Larsen, belonged to the New York Yankees. And so did another World Series championship." - The Sporting News

PINSTRIPE PERSPECTIVES: Events off the field

Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and approximately one-hundred other participants in the "Montgomery, Alabama Bus Boycott" were indicted for conspiracy to conduct an illegal boycott and sentenced to prison. All cases were eventually settled by $100 fines and the Supreme Court later ruled that segregation on any form of public transportation was unconstitutional.

After Colonel Tom Parker negotiated the sale of Elvis Presley's Sun Records contract to RCA, the future "King of Rock and Roll" had his first recording session at their studio in Nashville. Among the songs recorded was "Heartbreak Hotel" which was released as a single and sold over 300,000 copies in its first three weeks. It quickly climbed to number one on Billboard's pop singles chart for eight weeks, hit number one on the country chart, number five on the R&B chart and became the first Elvis single to sell over one million copies, earning him his first gold record.

Prince Rainier III of Monaco married film actress Grace Kelly. A civil ceremony was held in the throne room in the Palace of Monaco and was attended by the couple's close family and friends. The Prince, who still rules the country today, succeeded his grandfather Louis II in 1949 to become Monaco's thirty-first ruler. Unfortunately, Princess Grace was killed in a car crash on September 14, 1982 after her car went off a road over a cliff in Monaco.

FALL CLASSIC: Brooklyn Dodgers (3) vs. New York Yankees (4)

Once again, the eyes of the baseball world were on the bright lights of New York City (for the fourth time in five years) as the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees met on familiar ground for the coveted World Series championship. The "Bronx Bombers" had bested "the Bums" in three of the four meetings, but it was the Dodgers who had the last laugh by winning their first title off a dominant Game 7 in '55. Things seemed to pick up right where they had left off for Games 1 and 2 as eleven different members of the Yankees pitching staff were crushed by Brooklyn's bats. The result was a devastating 6-3 opener and an equally crippling 13-8 loss that put the defending champions up two games to none. However as sports often shows us, adversity and pride can turn a sinking ship around. Amazingly the Yankees aces rebounded for five consecutive complete-game performances from five pitchers who combined to allow the Dodgers six runs and twenty-one hits in 45 2/3 innings. In Game 3, a three-run homer by late-August acquisition Enos Slaughter and eight-hit pitching by "The Chairman" Whitey Ford had rallied the Yankees to their first victory, while Tom Sturdivant's six-hitter and homers by both Hank Bauer and Mickey Mantle highlighted the American Leaguers' triumph in Game 4.

Despite their back-to-back comebacks, Game 5 is the most notable Yankees performance of the '56 Series (and perhaps one of the most notable in all of baseball). The 64,000+ fans in attendance that day could never have predicted that they were about to witness the birth of a record that would stand into the next millennium or that their ticket stubs would mature into a $2,000.00 piece of sports memorabilia. The Dodgers couldn't have predicted the beating they were about to take either. During the first inning, the Yankees' twenty-seven-year-old right-hander, Don Larsen, went to his first and only "ball three" count on Pee Wee Reese. From then on, the modest pitcher and his pinstriped teammates worked together on both sides of the plate to deliver an instant classic. In the second inning, Jackie Robinson smashed a line drive that was deflected by Yankees third baseman Andy Carey to shortstop Gil McDougald, who threw out Robinson at first. In the fourth inning, Mickey Mantle hit a low line drive into the right field seats (just inside the foul pole) giving New York the 1-0 lead. In retrospect, "home field advantage" and a little luck sometimes pays great dividends. If the game had been at Brooklyn's Ebbets Field, "The Mick's" hit would have likely been off the right field screen for a mere double.

In the top of the fifth inning, Gil Hodges (a thirty-two-home-run man during the regular season) drove a pitch deep into left-center field and right into the outstretched glove of a sprinting Mantle. The spectacular effort has been christened by some as "The Catch" and has been replayed in countless highlight films throughout the years. The next batter, Sandy Amoros, almost spoiled the masterpiece with a line drive toward the right field corner but it curved foul and just missed being a home run. It was a sign of the inevitable, as the Dodgers would not get any other opportunities. As the game progressed, so did the anticipation of the crowd and the superstition of the players. Most of the Yankees avoided the pitcher completely in the dugout and even the Yankees' skipper got involved in attempting to preserve Larsen's marvelous momentum. As the ninth inning came to a close, Larsen got a called third strike on pinch-hitter Dale Mitchell to end the game and set off a wild celebration that began with catcher Yogi Berra leaping high into his arms for one of baseball's most photographic moments.

Brooklyn's Clem Labine went against Bob Turley for Game 6 and had his team's revenge with an "almost as impressive" 1-0, ten-inning shutout that ended after an Enos Slaughter error turned Robinson's bottom-of-the-tenth drive into a game-winning single. Don Newcombe, a standout on the Dodgers' staff and Johnny Kucks, a Yankee sophomore, matched for the decisive Game 7. Newcombe had just become the first recipient of the Cy Young Award, after his twenty-seven- victory season in '56, but still had yet to dominate a single postseason outing. Nothing changed in Game 7 as the veteran was knocked for a pair of two-run homers by Berra (who hit a grand slam off him in Game 2) and a bases-empty home run by Elston Howard. Bill Skowron stepped up to the plate in the seventh inning and finished the job with a grand slam of his own off Roger Craig who had replaced Newcombe in relief. Kucks returned the favor and held the defending champions to just three hits in a 9-0 triumph that completed the revival of the New Yorkers' pitching staff and returned the Yankees to post season glory.

No game would compare to Game 5 though and no other pitcher would even come close to Larsen's numbers. The Yankee ace pitched another three years in New York before bouncing from team to team over the final seven seasons of a fourteen-year career. He retired in 1967 with a forgettable career record of 81-91, failing again to ever approach the heights he achieved on that October afternoon in 1956. Still, he is mainly remembered for being perfect where perfection is simply not possible and his record stands to this very day.


The Brooklyn Dodgers trampled the New York Yankees 13-8 at Ebbets Field during Game 2 of the 1956 World Series - a victory that took a World Series record three hours & twenty-six minutes (3:26) to play (the record was eventually broken during the 1979 World Series).

Shortly after Don Larsen tossed his historic perfect game, a band named Red River recorded a song in tribute called "The Ballad of Don Larsen." The records associated with the October 8, 1956 gem include: most consecutive hitless innings in a Series (11), most consecutive hitless innings in a Game (9), most consecutive innings not allowing a player to reach first base in a Series (9) and most consecutive innings not allowing a player to reach first base in a Game (9).

MORE HERE: Don Larsen's Perfect Game


1957 World Series

"I exploit the greed of all hitters." - 1957 World Series Most Valuable Player Lew Burdette (on how he was able to start three games, win three games, and toss two shutouts)

PINSTRIPE PERSPECTIVES: Events off the field

President Dwight D. Eisenhower deployed Federal troops to uphold the integration of public schools in Little Rock, Arkansas after local authorities refused to implement court-ordered desegregation. Little Rock Mayor Woodrow Mann had sent the President a telegram asking for assistance in maintaining order and completing the integration process. The President responded by sending 1,000 members of the 101st Airborne Division and federalizing the 10,000-man Arkansas National Guard. On September 25th, nine black students finally entered Central High School under Army escort.

FALL CLASSIC: Milwaukee Braves (4) vs. New York Yankees (3)

As predicted, (and as usual) the New York Yankees continued to dominate the American League on their way to their twenty-second Fall Classic, with what seemed like a never-ending lineup of superstars. Manager Casey Stengel had already become the most successful skipper in postseason history and many fans were beginning to wonder if "The Curse of the Bambino" had rubbed off on the rest of the American League. Their counterpart was an up-and-coming franchise that lacked the familiar lineup card, but equally dominated the National League on the way to their third pennant. The Milwaukee Braves were a definite contender and featured a "big gun" outfielder named Henry Aaron. "Hank" as he was called, tallied forty-four home runs, one hundred thirty-two runs-batted-in and batted .322 in only his fourth season. He was backed up by third baseman Eddie Mathews, who knocked out thirty-two home runs of his own and outfielder Wes Covington who added twenty-one in ninety-six games. Defensively the Braves were stacked with Del Crandall behind the plate, Johnny Logan and Red Schoendienst serving as the keystone combination and Billy Bruton in center field. Burton was eventually replaced after a knee injury by Bob Hazle, who batted a phenomenal .403 in forty-one games. On the mound, Milwaukee's rotation boasted fifty-six wins from Warren Spahn (who had twenty wins for the eighth season), Bob Buhl and Lew Burdette. The National League champs were a well-balanced team indeed and a perfect candidate to match up with the perennial champion Yankees.

Game 1 opened in New York with Series veteran Whitey Ford tossing a five-hitter that ended as a 3-1 victory. But the Braves answered back the next day with a Burdette 4-2 win. Game 3 moved the Series to Milwaukee and an unwanted "hometown hero" named Tony Kubek made a triumphant return. The twenty-year-old rookie, who doubled as both a utility outfielder and infielder, nailed two homeruns for the Yanks on the way to an embarrassing 12-3 thrashing of the home team. Spahn was determined to retrieve the respect the Braves had lost in their own house and carried a 4-1 lead in Game 4 going into the ninth inning. After retiring the first two batters and holding a 3-2 count on Elston Howard, the Milwaukee ace blinked and surrendered a game-tying home run into the left field stands. Then, in the top of the tenth inning, Hank Bauer tripled home Kubek, and the Yankees, (who were one strike away from defeat), pulled ahead, 5-4. Nippy Jones led off for the Braves as a pinch-hitter for Spahn. Umpire Augie Donatelli called Tommy Byrne's first pitch a ball, but the thirty-two-year-old reserve infielder argued that he had been struck on the foot. In an effort to prove his point, Jones retrieved the baseball, showed Donatelli a smudge of shoe polish on it and was awarded his base. Felix Mantilla was sent in to run for Jones and scored on a Johnny Logan double off Bob Grim. With the game tied 5-5, Eddie Mathews put his team over the top by belting a home run to right field for the 7-5 comeback.

The Braves entered Game 5 with a renewed vigor and a controversial pitcher who had evened the score in Game 2. Lew Burdette had been criticized throughout his career for using the "spitball" technique and many fans had suspected that the right-hander had prospered (eighty-five wins over six seasons) by practicing the illegal toss. Despite the mounting questions, Burdette bested Whitey Ford for another clutch 1-0 performance. The Yankees' Gil McDougald almost changed the outcome with a leadoff drive to deep left field, but Wes Covington saved the day with a wall-jumping grab. Milwaukee then scored the game's only run in the sixth inning. After two were out, Mathews, Aaron and Joe Adcock all singled. For Adcock, the timely hit was well overdue after a long frustrating year at the plate. After slugging thirty-eight home runs in '56, he had managed a meager twelve homers in sixty-five games.

Game 6 remained anyone's for seven innings until Hank Bauer launched a rocket off Braves reliever Ernie Johnson, who otherwise pitched brilliantly in a 4 1/3-inning effort. Milwaukee made it interesting with a 2-2 tie in the top of the inning on a bases-empty homer by Aaron. Earlier, Yogi Berra had belted a two-run shot for the Yanks and Frank Torre had connected for the Braves. Besides surrendering the two homers, Yankees right-hander Bob Turley allowed only two other hits. In a bizarre twist, one year and two days after his perfect Game 5 against Brooklyn, Don Larsen had another chance to be a hero in Game 7. Unfortunately, in a rare instance for the Yankees, history did not repeat itself and the young righty didn't even make it through the third inning. After Mathews tagged him for a two-run double, Larsen allowed the Braves to score four times. Del Crandall tacked on another run in the eighth inning giving Burdette his second shutout and a World Championship title.

In the end, the questioned pitcher had not only clinched the Series for Milwaukee, he had done so with three complete-game victories (with or without his "spitball"). Aaron had remained the Braves top standout throughout the postseason with three home runs, seven runs-batted-in and a spectacular .393 average. Although the Yankees had continued to add American League pennants to their collection, they had now lost two out of three World Series and both teams would find themselves in a classic rematch the following year.


Prior to Game 7, the Milwaukee media asked Lew Burdette about pitching on two days rest. He replied, "I'll be all right. In 1953, I once relieved in sixteen (16) games out of twenty-two (22). I'm bigger, stronger and dumber now."

Burdette (an ex-Yankee who had made his Major League debut in pinstripes on September 26, 1950) tossed two (2) shutouts during the 1957 World Series. The last pitcher to match this same feat had been Christy Mathewson during the 1907 World Series.


1958 World Series

"Masters of making it look easy in Series competition with a record six sweeps, the Yankees proved in 1958 that they could do it the hard way, too. By roaring back against the Milwaukee Braves, they had become only the second team (the 1925 Pittsburgh Pirates were the other) to rally from a 3-1 deficit and win a seven-game Series." - The Sporting News

PINSTRIPE PERSPECTIVES: Events off the field

The United States launched its first satellite "Explorer I" into orbit around the earth. The launch was in response to the Soviets who had successfully launched their first satellite "Sputnik" one year earlier.

U.S. Troops landed in Lebanon for the first time after President Eisenhower ordered approximately five-thousand U.S. Marines deployed to help maintain order after a revolt in Iraq resulted in the ouster of the pro-Western Lebanese government.

Pan Am introduced the first 707 trans-Atlantic jet service on October 27, when its first 707 airliner, christened the "Clipper America", took off for Paris, France from New York.

FALL CLASSIC: Milwaukee Braves (3) vs. New York Yankees (4)

Almost a year to the day, the defending champion Milwaukee Braves and perennial champion New York Yankees met again for the second time in as many years. The National League champions had surprised everyone the previous year after overcoming an early deficit to dominate their American League rivals for the remainder of the Series. For the first time, (in a long time) the Bronx Bombers were not the heavy favorites after losing two of the last three Fall Classics. It was new territory for Casey Stengel's Yankees and they were determined to even it up. Many New York sports writers had already turned on their home team and several quoted predictions of the end of baseball's greatest dynasty.

Game 1 featured Warren Spahn going against Whitey Ford for a quick 4-3 opening victory. Things were not as close in Game 2, as the Braves' Lew Burdette (a three complete-game winner in '57) showed his talents on the other side of the plate with a three-run blast that capped off a seven-run rally in the first inning. He continued his balanced attack by holding the Yankees to just two runs and three hits going into the ninth. Things changed quickly however, as he was shelled for four hits, resulting in three runs. The Yankees Hank Bauer had a late-inning homer and Mickey Mantle added his second of the day. Over the course of his career "The Mick" would go on to set the all-time World Series home run record that still stands to this day. Both efforts went in vain though, as Milwaukee went on to a crushing 13-5 triumph. The third outing took the Series in a completely different direction, as Don Larsen and Ryne Duren both combined for a 4-0 shutout that left the hitters on both benches high and dry. Bauer in fact, was the only slugger to generate any offense with a bases-loaded single and a two-run homer that extended his Series hitting streak to seventeen games. The record wouldn't last long though, as Warren Spahn would outdo the Yankees outfielder the very next day.

Down three games to one, New York was nearing the end of an era and the Braves were on the verge of clinching their second consecutive title. Burdette returned to face Bob Turley (a twenty-one-game winner) in a final showdown. Backed by Gil McDougald's bases-empty homer in the third inning, Elston Howard's spectacular snatch (and double play) off Red Schoendienst's sixth-inning liner and a six-run rally against Burdette and reliever Juan Pizarro in the bottom of the sixth, Turley emerged a 7-0 winner by giving up only five-hits and chalking up ten strikeouts. Things remained in their favor the following day as the Yanks squared the Series with a 4-3, ten-inning victory in Game 6.

For the second straight year, Larsen would be chosen as the Yankees' starting pitcher in Game 7. And for the second straight year, he lasted exactly three innings before hitting the showers. A short-rested Turley returned in relief and after escaping a bases-loaded situation in the third inning, held a 2-1 lead over Burdette and the Braves entering the Milwaukee sixth. With two out, though, Del Crandall belted a game-tying home run. After both clubs were held scoreless in the seventh inning, Burdette retired the first two Yankees in the eighth. Fortunately for New York, the Braves luck was about to run out. First Yogi Berra tagged the Milwaukee ace for a double. Then Elston Howard followed suit with a go-ahead single. Andy Carey singled off third baseman Eddie Mathews' glove and finally Skowron crashed a devastating home run to left-center. The Yankees were ahead 6-2, and the score did not change. With Turley yielding only a single run and two hits in 6 2/3 innings of relief, the Yankees managed to beat the odds for their eighteenth World Series title.

The surprise comeback had not only restored the Yankees to their previous stature, but it had also tied a record as they became only the second team (1925 Pittsburgh Pirates) to rally back from a 3-1 deficit to win baseball's most prestigious crown. Hank Bauer (who was a nine-Series veteran) led with most runs scored (six), most hits (ten), most home runs (four) and most runs- batted-in (eight). He also topped the Yankees' sluggers with a .323 average. Despite less-than-stellar stats in his first four Classics (seven for fifty-seven with a .123 avg.), he combined for eighteen hits, six home runs, fourteen RBIs and a .290 average against the Braves in '57 and '58.


After Game 2, Lew Burdette had a four (4) consecutive game win streak versus the Bronx Bombers; one that many fans said was due to a spitball pitch. Burdette addressed the issue; "I'd love to use it, if I knew how. Burleigh Grimes told me not to monkey around with it, but to let them think I threw it and that's what I've done."

On October 2, 1958, Burdette (starting pitcher) went deep with two (2) men on base becoming just the sixth pitcher to date with a World Series home run. Others included: Jim Bagby (Cleveland, A.L., 1920 World Series), Rosy Ryan (New York, N.L., 1924 World Series), Jack Bentley (New York, N.L., 1924 World Series), Jesse Haines (St. Louis, N.L., 1926 World Series), and Bucky Walters (Cincinnati, N.L., 1940 World Series).

The 3-1 deficit overcame by the New York Yankees was the first ever in World Series history by an American League team. The only other instance occurred during the 1925 World Series by the National League's Pittsburgh Pirates.

END 50's


Copyright 2006 by Michael Aubrecht
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