#1: 1921 vs. Giants
#2: 1922 vs. Giants
#3: 1923 vs. Giants
#4: 1926 vs. Cardinals
#5: 1927 vs. Pirates
#6: 1928 vs. Cardinals
#7: 1932 vs. Cubs
#8: 1936 vs. Giants
#9: 1937 vs. Giants
#10: 1938 vs. Cubs
#11: 1939 vs. Reds
#12: 1941 vs. Dodgers
#13: 1942 vs. Cardinals
#14: 1943 vs. Cardinals
#15: 1947 vs. Dodgers
#16: 1949 vs. Dodgers
#17: 1950 vs. Phillies
#18: 1951 vs. Giants
#19: 1952 vs. Dodgers
#20: 1953 vs. Dodgers
#21: 1955 vs. Dodgers
#22: 1956 vs. Dodgers
#23: 1957 vs. Braves
#24: 1958 vs. Braves
#25: 1960 vs. Pirates
#26: 1961 vs. Reds
#27: 1962 vs. Giants
#28: 1963 vs. Dodgers
#29: 1964 vs. Cardinals
#30: 1976 vs. Reds
#31: 1977 vs. Dodgers
#32: 1978 vs. Dodgers
#33: 1981 vs. Dodgers
#34: 1996 vs. Braves
#35: 1998 vs. Padres
#36: 1999 vs. Braves
#37: 2000 vs. Mets
#38: 2001 vs. D'backs
#39: 2003 vs. Marlins
recaps with complete statistics are online at
If the 1920 season had left Boston wondering if they had made a mistake, then the 1921 season surely removed any doubt. Babe Ruth was in New York and busy breaking his own records for the 2nd consecutive season. As the Red Sox were struggling to stay competitive, the Yankees were still getting used to winning after coming off of a 3rd place A.L. finish during the Babe's "rookie" season in a pinstriped uniform. Nothing changed in 1921 as their new acquisition raised his homerun record to a staggering 59, his RBI total to 171 and his batting average to .378 on the way to their first American League pennant and World Series appearance. The Babe wasn't alone though as teammate Bob Meusel contributed 24 homers and 135 RBIs and the rest of the Yankees batted .288 or higher. Two other "ex Red Sox", Carl Mays (a 27 game winner) and Waite Hoyt (with 19) added insult to injury while Bob Shawkey added 18 more victories.
The National League's Giants were veterans to the Fall Classic and had plenty to smile about themselves. With a line-up of "lumberjacks" including Frankie Frisch, Ross Youngs, George Kelly and Irish Meusel and a solid pitching staff known as the "fearsome foursome" (Art Nehf, Fred Toney, Jesse Barnes and Phil Douglas), they promised to give Babe Ruth and his re-born Yankees a run for their money. In the first World Series to be played entirely in one ballpark (the Polo Grounds), the Big Apple's "rival roommates" squared off in the first official "Subway Series". Despite rumors of Ruth on the mound, Miller Huggins gave the Game 1 start to Carl Mays while John McGraw selected Phil Douglas. The Yankee's pitchers quickly set the tone for the Series with an opening 3-0 victory that was repeated the following day with a 2-hit, 3-0 triumph by Waite Hoyt.
Down but not out, the Giants managed to come back in Game 3 after trailing 4 runs in the 4th. After tying it up in the bottom the inning, McGraw's team rallied for 8 runs in the 7th thanks to Ross Youngs' bases-loaded triple. In the end, the Yankees had blinked and were taken for 20 hits and a 13-5 victory that turned the momentum back to the veterans. The Giants continued as Douglas returned the following day and vindicated himself with a 4-2 win that tied the Series at 2 games apiece. Game 5 was even more dramatic as an injured Babe Ruth shocked everyone with a key bunt in the 4th inning, setting up the winning run off a Bob Meusel double. The Yankees had regained their composure and walked away with a 3-1, Series leading victory, but at a terrible cost as their most valuable player would be unable to continue due to arm and knee ailments.
Despite the absence of the Babe, the Yankees still felt confident with their remaining line-up. That was until they lost Game 6, 8-5 and Game 7, 2-1. Great performances at the plate by Irish Meusel and Frank Snyder as well as a solid outing on the mound by Phil Douglas had put the Giants out in front. Game 8 evolved into a classic pitcher's duel between Waite Hoyt and Art Nehf, who led the standoff 1-0 going into the bottom of the 9th. In a last chance effort, the desperate Yankee skipper went to his bench and replaced the struggling Wally Pipp (who had batted a miserable .154) with the still injured Babe Ruth who grounded out to first. Two plays later, the Series was over with the Giants winning 5 games to 3.
Although they had fallen short in their first World Series appearance, the Yankees had shown a glimpse of what would become a dynasty. Waite Hoyt had not allowed a single earned run in 27 innings and Carl Mays had been just as effective with an ERA of 1.73 over 26. Ruth batted an impressive .313 and added his first World Series homer and 4 RBIs. After 4 straight losses, the Giants had finally reclaimed the championship title for the first time since 1905.
#2: 1922: New York Giants (4) vs. New York Yankees (0)
The defending A.L. champion Yankees entered the 1922 season still recovering from a devastating loss to the Giants and without 2 of their star players. Both Babe Ruth and Bob Meusel had been suspended for an unauthorized barnstorming tour after the 1921 Series. To make matters worse, Commissioner Landis handed Ruth additional suspensions after several run-ins with umpires and other indiscretions off the field. In fact, the Babe did not play until May 20th and had only made 110 appearances out of 154 games at the end of the pennant race. His stats plummeted as a result, dropping him to 3rd in homers (with 35) and out of the top 5 for RBI's (with 99). Still, the Yankees managed to hold onto their A.L. crown and prepared for a rematch against the defending World Champion New York Giants.
The Yankees had continued to pillage the Boston Red Sox acquiring Everett Scott and Joe Dugan as well as Whitey Witt from the Philadelphia Athletics. The Giants had made some great deals too in trading for 3rd baseman Heinie Groh and pitcher Jack Scott. Once again, New York was host to its 2nd consecutive "Subway Series" which had finally reverted back to a best-of-seven format.
Game 1 found the Giants in familiar territory as they rebounded from a 2-0 deficit in the 8th on their way to a 3-2 victory. Newly acquired Heinie Groh performed exceptionally well going 3 for 3 despite the best efforts of Joe Bush who had shut out his hometown rivals through 7 innings. Things started differently in Game 2 as the Giants quickly set the pace with a 3-run homer off of Yankee veteran Bob Shawkey in the top of the 1st. Not to be outdone, the Yankees managed to tie it up with runs in the 1st, 4th and 8th innings. Both sides dug in for what promised to be a dramatic finish, but umpire George Hildebrand insisted on calling the game due to "darkness" after the 10th inning. With at least a ½ hour of sunlight left, the fans were outraged and demanded the official's resignation. In an effort to make the best of a bad public relations situation, the league decided that the gate receipts would be donated to various New York charities.
Babe Ruth's difficulties had continued to plague him well into the post-season and it wasn't looking any better for Game 3. At this point in the Series, the "Sultan of Swat" had gone 2 for 8 with 1 measly RBI and his teammates weren't looking any better. Giant's pitcher Jack Scott, who had compiled an impressive 8-2 record in only 17 games, blanked the Yankees with a 4-hit, 3-0 triumph and set a momentum that would last for the rest of the Series. Hugh McQuillan took the mound for the Nationals in Game 4 and notched a complete 4-3 win backed up by the slugging of Dave Bancroft. Art Nehf returned for Game 5 and the clincher (as he had in the previous year) in a 5-3 triumph that netted the Giants their 2nd consecutive title. Not only had the Giants pitching staff dominated the last 3 games for a back-to-back championship, they had done so while holding baseball greatest slugger to a miserable 0 for 9 record. The Bambino wound up with two hits in 17 at-bats for a .118 average and his teammates hit only .203 as a team.
#3: 1923: New York Giants (2) vs. New York Yankees (4)
The term "home field advantage" took on a whole new meaning in 1923 as baseball's grand cathedral, Yankees Stadium, opened much to the dismay of the Giants. Although the 2x defending champions would finally reclaim the Polo Grounds for themselves, "The House That Ruth Built" towered over their yard and featured an enormous seating capacity with an architectural beauty that was second to none. With the addition of a third ballpark, New York had established itself as THE premier city for professional sports entertainment. A sports columnist from Philadelphia had written that thousands of years in the future archeologists would uncover ruins in the lower Bronx that would resemble that of ancient Rome's coliseums. The Giants had generously shared their field with the Yankees (and Highlanders) since 1913 but now found themselves standing in the shadow of their cross-town rivals.
Although the Yankees had lost 2 consecutive World Series to the Giants, they were quickly becoming the more popular of the 2. The soon to be penned "Bronx Bombers" boasted the game's top player, the largest arena, and the best record in baseball after winning their 3rd A.L. pennant by a 16 game margin. Once again, the "Subway Series" was on as the Yankees and the Giants met for the 3rd consecutive year. In a strange twist, Giants' outfielder, Casey Stengel, who would later become one of the most successful and beloved Yankee managers, beat his future team in Game 1 with an inside-the-park home run off of Joe Bush to break a 4-4 tie in the 9th. The Yankees record was now 0-9 (8 losses and 1 tie) in Series games against the Giants, but New York had Babe Ruth and he would have something to say about that. After a disappointing season plagued with suspensions and poor play in 1922, the Babe was back in action, hitting .394 and sharing the home run title with the Phillies' Cy Williams (with 41). He was in top form for Game 2, hitting homers in the 4th and 5th innings on the way to a 4-2 victory at the Polo Grounds.
Game 1 hero Casey Stengel once again stole the spotlight in Game 3. Through six innings, the Yankees' Sam Jones and the Giants' Art Nehf were locked in a scoreless battle. Then, with one out in the 7th, Stengel homered into the right field stands at Yankee Stadium for the win. Not to be outdone, the Yankees dominated the next 2 outings while totaling 16 runs with 27 hits resulting in 8-4 and 8-1 victories. New York coasted through Games 4 and 5 on the arm of Joe Bush and the bat of Joe Dugan. Finally, the Yankees had beaten the Giants for their first world championship in their brand new stadium (which featured crowds in excess of 62,000 and over $1million dollars in ticket sales). In addition, Babe Ruth had finally beaten his post-season demons, hitting 3 home runs, a triple, a double and 2 singles while batting .368.
#4: 1926: St. Louis Cardinals (4) vs. New York Yankees (3)
Once again, the New York Yankees had risen to the top of the American League with solid pitching and spectacular hitting by the soon to be penned "Murderer's". Babe Ruth was joined in the spotlight by 2 young up-and-coming sluggers named Lou Gehrig and Earle Combs who hit .348 and .357 during the regular season. Their opponents, the National League's St. Louis Cardinals, had similar success with Rogers Hornsby, a .317 hitter, and pitchers Flint Rhem and Bill Sherdel who had won 20 and 16 games respectively.
Both teams looked to be strong on both sides of the plate, but the Yankees remained heavy favorites after dethroning the Giants' dynasty in the previous Series. Rookie Lou Gehrig had a fantastic debut in Game 1 driving in the winning run for a 6-3 opening victory. New York was not as fortunate in Game 2 as the Cardinals returned with a vengeance for a 6-2 payback. Grover Alexander went the distance against 3 Yankees pitchers including Urban Shocker, Bob Shawkey, who came on in the 8th, and Sam Jones who finished the 9th. Things didn't get any better for the favorites in Game 3 as once again, a Cardinal pitcher (Jesse Haines) lasted all 9 against 3 of New York's finest (Dutch Ruether, Bob Shawkey and Myles Thomas). Haines also contributed the only home run in the 4-0 shutout. The underdog Cards' were now on top 2 games to 1.
Down, but not out, "Murderer's Row" came back in Game 4 with a new resolve. This time it was St. Louis exhausting their bullpen as Yankee vet Waite Hoyt stood tall against 5 Cardinal pitchers including Flint Rhem, Art Reinhart, Hi Bell, Bill Hallahan and finally Vic Keen. The Bambino was back to his old self too, knocking out 3 homers to the Cardinals none. Although the National League champs were still ahead by a single game, serious damage had been done in the 10-5 debacle, as New York was clearly not giving up without a fight. Both teams dug in as Game 5 resulted in a 10 inning pitcher's duel between the Yank's Herb Pennock and Card's Bill Sherdel. The Yankees managed to win it 3-2 and led the Series by 1 game with 2 to go. Game 6 offered a replay of Game 2 as Grover Alexander once again, went the distance in a crucial 10-2 triumph that left Bob Shawkey a loser and Urban Shocker and Myles Thomas unavailable for the final showdown.
Game 7 was a real nail-biter as Jesse Haines and Grover Alexander went head-to-head with Waite Hoyt and Herb Pennock. Both teams managed 8 hits apiece and Babe Ruth contributed the only homer in the contest. Down 3-2 in the 9th, the Yankees were still in good shape as baseball's greatest slugger stepped up to the plate. The Babe worked the count to 3 and 2, then drew his 11th walk of the Series. Clean-up man Bob Meusel prepared to put the winning run on base, but was denied when the anxious Bambino attempted to steal 2nd. Although he had successfully stolen against the Cardinals in Game 6, he was slow off the start and catcher Bob O'Farrell's throw to Hornsby nailed the Yankees' slugger ending the fall classic. Many fans were furious with Ruth and believed that his mistake had clearly cost the Series. St. Louis had managed to beat the mighty Babe Ruth and his defending world champion Yankees despite mediocre performances from their standout players. Hornsby hit a meager .250 against New York and both Rhem and Sherdel had failed to win a game.
#5: 1927: Pittsburgh Pirates (0) vs. New York Yankees (4)
1927 witnessed the play of what many baseball historians consider to be the greatest team in the history of baseball, The 1927 New York Yankees. With an all-star lineup known as "Murderer's Row", New York outscored its opponents by nearly 400 runs and hit .307 as a team. Babe Ruth, perhaps the greatest ever, set the original single season mark with 60 homeruns which was more than any other American League team had combined. The Sultan of Swat also had plenty of help from his fellow sluggers in pinstripes. Outfield counterparts, Earle Combs in center and Bob Meusel in left, hit .356 and .337 respectively. Lou Gehrig had his first big season, batting .373 with 47 homers and a league leading 175 RBIs. Second year man Tony Lazzeri ranked third in the loop with 18 homers. The pitching staff boasted four men who won 18 or more wins, led by Waite Hoyt at 22-7. Herb Pennock and Wilcy Moore gained 19 victories apiece while Urban Shocker added 18. This lethal trio complemented the dominant offense by claiming the league's three best ERAs. Moore, who pitched primarily in relief, led the way with a 2.28 mark. With a 110-44 record, the Bronx Bombers ran away with the American League pennant, winning by a staggering 19 games.
On the National League side, the Pittsburgh Pirates had managed a pennant, but were clearly not the caliber that New York represented. Game 1 opened at Forbes Field, but the "homefield advantage" offered the Pirates little comfort in a 5-4 loss that was highlighted by several crucial fielding errors by the home team. Little changed in Game 2 as the Yankees netted another 6-2 victory off the arm of George Pipgras who beat Pittsburgh's Vic Aldridge, Mike Cvengros and Joe Dawson. Herb Pennock, who entered the game with a 4-0 Series record, went the distance for the third outing mowing down the Pirates 1-2-3 in the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th innings. The result was an 8-1 triumph that left the Yankees 1 win away from sweeping the Series and reclaiming their crown.
Game 4 was anyone's for 9 innings as neither team blinked in a 3-3 stalemate. Pittsburgh manager, Donie Bush, had turned to Carmen Hill, who had peaked in 1927 as the ace of his pitching staff. Hill had never won more than three games, but in 1927, he chalked up 22. New York's Miller Huggins went with Wilcy Moore, a promising rookie who had made only 12 starts in his 50 appearances. Both had planned to go the distance, but the mental fatigue was starting to take its toll. Pittsburgh's John Miljus came in as relief in the 7th and looked strong until the 9th. Earle Combs walked and Mark Koenig beat out a bunt to advance to 2nd and 3rd. In a daring move, Ruth was walked intentionally, filling the bases with no outs and Lou Gehrig coming up next. Miljus managed to strike out the next 2 batters, but threw a disastrous wild pitch to Tony Lazzeri, scoring Combs and ending the game. The Yankees had won their 2nd championship title and the crowning achievement to a magnificent season. They also became the first team ever to sweep the National League in a World Series.
#6: 1928: St. Louis Cardinals (0) vs. New York Yankees (4)
After coming off of a magical season, the defending champion Yankees managed to hold off the Athletics to win their 3rd consecutive pennant by 2 1/2 games, but at a serious cost as injuries depleted their line-up. Pitcher Herb Pennock (17-6) was on the sidelines for the Series with a sore arm. Centerfielder Earle Combs was available only as a pinch-hitter because of a broken finger. Second baseman Tony Lazzeri suffered a lame-throwing arm, and Babe Ruth was playing on a bad ankle. The St. Louis Cardinals, however, were all in good shape and ready for a repeat of the 1926 contest when they had dethroned New York 4 games to 3.
For Game 1, Waite Hoyt went up against Bill Sherdel in a classic rematch of David vs. Goliath. The Babe managed to play, despite his inability to run and he and his young protégé both put on quite a show. Ruth had a single and 2 doubles, Gehrig went 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs and Bob Meusel knocked a 2 run homer on the way to a 4-1 opening victory. Grover Alexander (who had embarrassed the Yankees and their pitching staff in the '26 Series) returned for Game 2, but lacked the dominating presence of 2 years ago. Lou Gehrig started things off with a 3 run homer in the 1st inning and the Yankees continued to score without resistance on the way to a 9-3 victory.
As expected, Ruth and Gehrig continued to abuse the Cardinals' pitching staff with reckless abandon. The "Iron Horse" launched 3 blasts in Game 3 for a 7-3 win and "The Babe" knocked 3 into the seats in Game 4 (with Gehrig contributing 1) for another 7-3 triumph and a second sweep for the World Championship. Both sluggers had combined to go 16 for 27 at the plate, with a .593 average, 7 homers and 13 RBIs. Ruth set one of many Series records hitting an unbelievable .625 with 10 hits in 4 games. Gehrig hit .545 and set his own record with 9 RBIs in 4 games. It truly was a 2-man show as the rest of the Yankees batted .196, but were supported by solid pitching by Hoyt, George Pipgras and Tom Zachary. The perennial World Champions had managed to save-face after a difficult season and once again proved that they were the best-of-the-best.
#7: 1932: Chicago Cubs (0) vs. New York Yankees (4)
Anger, emotion and controversy were the big stories of the 1932 Series and that was before the first pitch was ever even thrown. Babe Ruth, the most beloved (and hated) player in all of baseball, lived up to his reputation by ripping apart the Chicago Cubs organization in the press while sticking up for one of his former teammates. Remembering the contributions of shortstop Mark Koenig to the Yankees' great teams of 1926-1928, several New York players berated the National League champions for only offering him a half-share of the World Series payoff. Although he had been a late-season acquisition, the former Yankee had batted .353 in 33 games for his new team and many felt that he was being cheated. Chicago tempers were also flared by the return of Joe McCarthy, who had been fired by the Cubs after the 1930 season. Many around the league had felt that the Yank's new skipper had been unfairly treated after winning the pennant in '29 and taking his team to 2nd place the following year. However, many of his supporters quickly turned on him after he accepted a position with the hated American League powerhouse. Two years later he walked back onto Wrigley Field in a New York uniform determined to get the "last laugh" over his former employer. He certainly had the advantage this time as the Yankees won the first 2 games back home in the Bronx and were now locked in a 4-4 stalemate. What would follow has become one of the most memorable and controversial moments in the history of baseball…
With 1 out in the 5th, Babe Ruth stepped up to the plate and prepared to stare down Chicago's Charlie Root. "The Bambino" had launched a 3-run rocket off of the Cub's veteran in the 1st, but took a called strike on the first pitch. Two balls and another strike followed as "The Babe" acknowledged it with a raised hand. Confident that a "K" was coming, the Cubs fans started taunting Ruth from the stands. As the noise level rose to a deafening roar, Ruth pointed to center field (although some contest that he was pointing back at Root) and prepared his wind-up. Whatever the gesture, it certainly silenced the fans as he delivered the next pitch over the centerfield wall for the go-ahead score. Even Lou Gehrig (who was on-deck at the time) maintained that Ruth had definitely "called his shot" although Root wasn't buying into the "Sultan of Swing" sensationalism. He was quoted as saying, "If he had, I would have knocked him down with the next pitch." Ruth never expounded upon the matter and was content with another contribution to baseball folklore. It still remains a mystery.
Gehrig and Ruth both traded 2-homer days in a close Game 3 that ended 7-5 in the Yankees' favor. New York prepared the next day to close out the Cubs for their 3rd consecutive sweep, but did not get off to a good start as they fell behind 4-1 when Chicago's Frank Demaree knocked a 3-run homer in the 1st. Despite the Cubs' strong start, New York stormed back, thanks in part to the bat of Tony Lazzeri who had two, 2-run homers during a late Yankees rally. In a game that was tied 5-5 for 6 innings, the Yanks wound up with a 13-6 win and another world championship. Although Ruth's "called shot" was the most widely contested and celebrated moment of the 1932 Series, it was Lou Gehrig who was without a doubt, the biggest hitter. Gehrig went 9 for 17 with a .529 average, slugged 3 homers, scored 9 runs and tallied 8 RBIs. He was backed up by Bill Dickey, who batted .438, Earle Combs, who hit .375 and Joe Sewell and "the Babe" who both finished with a .333 average. Strangely, the "called shot" would be Ruth's last homerun in World Series play.
#8: 1936: New York Giants (2) vs. New York Yankees (4)
In 1936, the New York Yankees were not only without their best player, but also perhaps the greatest player in the history of the game. Prior to 1935, the Yankees had released the legendary Babe Ruth, who went on to play briefly for the Boston Braves, and shortly thereafter retired from baseball. Many felt that "The Babe" was directly responsible for the Yankees' dominance of the late 20's and 30's and the prospect of returning to post-season glory without him was grim. If New York would be able to prosper without Ruth in the line-up; it would be a tremendous boost for the future of the franchise. Ruth's "replacement" was an up-and-coming rookie outfielder named Joe DiMaggio who hit 29 homers and 129 RBIs in his debut season. Third only to Lou Gehrig and Bill Dickey, "Joe 'D" as he would later be called, was a perfect fit for the old "Bronx Bombers". Gehrig was coming off of a MVP season in which he hit 49 homeruns and drove in 152 with a .354 batting average. Dickey hit 22 homers with 107 RBIs and led the team with a .362.
Pitching was also a major player in the Yankees 1936 season as 6 finished the regular season with double-digit wins. Their records include: Red Ruffing (20-12, 3.85 ERA); Monte Pearson (19-7, 3.71); Bump Hadley (14-4, 4.34); Lefty Gomez (13-7, 4.38); Pat Malone (12-4, 3.80); and Johnny Broaca (12-7, 4.24). Not only had New York proved themselves to be worthy without Ruth during the regular season, they were on the verge of a World Series streak that would last for the next 4 years. The Yankees return to the Series also coincided with the comeback of the National League champion New York Giants who were returning to the big show after a 3-year hiatus. Although the Giants did not share the dominant pennant run that the Yanks had (winning by only 5 games), they did have the most dangerous pitcher in all of baseball. Carl Hubbell, a 33 year-old lefty, had just won his last 16 games and finished the season 26-6 with a 2.31 ERA.
Hubbell had more than earned the start for Game 1 and went up against 20-game winner Red Ruffing. Mid-season acquisition, Jake Powell (who came over from Washington) was obviously not intimidated by the Giants' "giant" and managed 3 base hits in his first 3 attempts. It mattered little as Ruth's replacement in rightfield, George Selkirk, scored the Yankees' only run with a homer in the 3rd. Hubbell struck out 8 and only allowed 7 hits (none of which flew past the infield) on his way to a 6-1 opening lead. Despite the miserable debut, the Yankees went on to win four of the next five games while paying back the Giants' pitching staff for Hubbell's performance. In Game 2, they took Hal Schumacher and four relievers for 17 hits including the second grand slam in World Series history by Tony Lazzeri. The entire line-up (all 9) had at least 1 hit and scored 1 run in the 18-4 massacre (Bill Dickey and Lazzeri each had 5 RBIs apiece). The following day, newly acquired Bump Hadley delivered a 2-1 victory with a tie-breaking run knocked in by Frankie Crosetti in the 8th and solid relief from Pat Malone in the 9th.
Hubbell returned to seek revenge for his counterparts in Game 4, but suffered their same fate, allowing 4 Yankee runs (2 off Gehrig's 2nd homer in as many days) in the first 3 innings. Despite his best efforts, the Giants' ace was bested 5-2 by Monte Pearson, a recent trade-acquisition from Cleveland. On the brink of elimination, the Giants managed to stay alive with a crucial 5-4; 10-inning victory in Game 5, but it only postponed the obvious. Once again, the Yankee sluggers stepped up to the plate and blasted their cross-town rival's pitching staff in an embarrassing 13-5, Game 6 romp. Powell, Lazzeri, DiMaggio and Rolfe each had 3 hits (with Powell adding a homer and 4 RBIs) as the Yankees wrapped up the Giants and another World Series title. In the end, the Yankees had finished the contest with an amazing 65 hits. Powell batted .455, Rolfe hit .400, DiMaggio batted .346 and Gehrig knocked in 7 runs while boosting his RBI total in Series play to 31 in 25 games. The only highlight for their opponents came on opening day as Hubbell's Game 1 masterpiece ended the newly crowned champion's 12-game winning streak. However, it would be of little consolation to the fallen Giants (and the rest of the National League) as the Yankees were about to start a new winning-streak of a different kind.
#9: 1937: New York Giants (1) vs. New York Yankees (4)
Once again, Joe McCarthy's New York Yankees dominated the American League for the 2nd consecutive season, winning the AL pennant by a 13-game margin with league-leading hitting by 3 of the games greatest. Second-year man Joe DiMaggio drove in 167 runs, veteran Lou Gehrig added 159 and Bill Dickey contributed 133 for an amazing 459 RBIs. Gehrig, known as the "Iron Horse" had enjoyed a magnificent season that would sadly be his last before amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (later named Lou Gehrig's disease) began to take its toll on his career and his life. He batted .351 and recorded 37 homers, his protégé "Joe D"; hit .346 with 46 homers and Dickey came in third with a .332 and 29. The 3 were without equals at the plate, although George Selkirk was on pace (18 homers in 68 games) and may have made it 4, if not missing half a season due to injuries. The Yankees also had the AL's only 20-game winners with Lefty Gomez (21-11) and Red Ruffing (20-7) as well as standout relief in Johnny Murphy, who recorded 12 saves and 13 overall.
However, the Yankees weren't the only repeaters in '37 as the National League's Giants returned for a classic rematch against their hated cross-town rivals. Unlike the Yankees, Bill Terry's club did not possess the dominant hitting (Mel Ott was closest with 31 homers and 95 RBIs), but they did boast two, 20-game winners with Carl Hubbell (22-8) and rookie Clift Melton (20-9). Game 1 echoed the previous Series opener with the Giants on top 1-0 going into the 6th, but before the inning concluded, the Yankees struck for 7 runs on their way to a 6-hit, 8-1 victory for Gomez. Game 2 started the same as the Giants led 1-0 going into the bottom of the 5th. This time the American Leaguers struck for 2 in the 5th, 2 more in the 6th and headed for their 2nd consecutive 8-1 comeback that featured a 7-hitter from Red Ruffing. Things didn't get any better for the National Leaguers in Game 3 either as Monte Pearson, getting last-out relief help from Murphy in the 9th, won - despite the fact that the Giants had loaded the bases.
As the Yanks prepared to go for their 4th sweep in their last 5 World Series appearances, the Giants were still trying to get their first win in their last 4 Series games. Things seemed to finally turn in their favor for Game 4 as they managed 6 runs in the 2nd inning. Center fielder Hank Leiber got things going with a base hit and then capped the rally with a 2-run single. Hubbell went on to record a 7-3 victory while throwing a clutch 6-hitter. In the 9th, the last he would pitch, (in a Series) he allowed a homerun to Lou Gehrig, the last he would hit (in a Series). Once again, the Giants had comeback from the brink of elimination, and once again, the Yankees had an answer the following day. In Game 5, Myril Hoag whacked a 2nd inning homer for the Yanks and DiMaggio connected in the top of the 3rd. Ott returned fire with a 2-run blast in the bottom of the inning, but Lazerri hit a leadoff triple in the 5th and scored on Gomez's single due to 2nd baseman Burgess Whitehead's fielding error. Two outs later, Gehrig doubled home Gomez on the way to a 4-2 Series ending victory.
The back-to-back titleists had won their 6th World Series championship, (breaking the mark they had shared with the Philadelphia Athletics) and they were only getting started. Believe it or not, the 4-games-to-1 humiliation that the New York Giants were forced to endure was only the tip of the iceberg and the defending champion's next 2 opponents would not find themselves as fortunate.
#10: 1938: Chicago Cubs (0) vs. New York Yankees (4)
After a 6-year hiatus, the Chicago Cubs managed to top the National League, despite making it there by the slimmest of margins. After a 9th-inning, 6-5 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates (who had led the NL for 2 1/2 months) on September 28th, the Cubs managed to hold onto first place while winning the pennant by a mere two games. Rip Collins led the team in homers with 13, and outfielder Augie Galan topped the Cubs in RBIs with 69. Stan Hack batted .320 and led the National League with 16 stolen bases, and Carl Reynolds hit .302. Bill Lee and Clay Bryant were the staff pitching aces with 22 and 19 victories. Dizzy Dean, who tried to come back too soon after his All-Star Game toe injury of 1937 and hurt his arm, had been obtained from the St. Louis Cardinals in April and won 7-of-8 decisions.
Their opponents, the 2x-defending champion Yankees were still dominating things on the American League side. This time 5 New Yorkers compiled RBI totals over 90, and those five; Joe DiMaggio, Bill Dickey, Lou Gehrig, rookie Joe Gordon and Tommy Henrich had homerun totals ranging from 32 to 22. Red Ruffing led the American League in victories with 21, followed in the rotation by Lefty Gomez (18 wins), Monte Pearson (16) and Spud Chandler (14). The result was a 9 1/2-game lead over the Boston Red Sox for the AL pennant.
Bill Lee got the call for the Cubs in the Series opener and while the big right-hander pitched well, he did not pitch well enough to win. Bill Dickey went 4-for-4 against him; scoring a run and driving home another as the Yankees pulled ahead with a "predictable" 3-1 triumph. Nothing changed for Game 2 although the Cubs' Dizzy Dean appeared in control almost till the end. He contained the Yankees for 7 innings at Wrigley Field and had given up only three hits while leading the contest, 3-2. George Selkirk added the Yankees' 4th hit as the leadoff man in the 8th, but 2 force-outs left Dean in a position to escape with 1 more out. Frankie Crosetti (who was on the bottom of the Yank's home-run list with 9) stepped up with Myril Hoag leading off of first base. Swinging at the first pitch, the unlikely hero sent a shockwave through the stands with a bomb over the left-field wall. Dean and his teammates stood in disbelief and were unable to answer the call in the 9th as the Yankees held on for the 6-3 victory.
Ahead 2 games-to-none with the Series shifting to Yankee Stadium, the New Yorkers seemed to be a lock. Game 3 and 4 were quick (and painful) as the hometeam's momentum carried them to 5-2 and 8-3 finales that featured solid hitting by Crosetti who added a double, triple and 4 RBIs to his stats. On a somber note, the ailing Lou Gehrig, went 4 for 14 (all singles) for his last Series appearance. The Yankees had completed their 4th Series sweep in their last 6 appearances and became the first team to win the World Series in 3 consecutive years. The American Leaguers appeared unstoppable and most felt that the Cubs never had a chance.
#11: 1939: Cincinnati Reds (0) vs. New York Yankees (4)
The Cincinnati Reds returned to the big show for the first time since 1919 when they were the beneficiaries of the famous "Black Sox Scandal" in which their opponents, the Chicago White Sox, intentionally threw the Series. After a lengthy investigation in 1920, the members of Chicago's team were amazingly acquitted the following year despite their own confessions (which were recanted later). Many Reds fans later realized that their "championship title" had been tainted and were anxious to see their team win one on their own terms. Their sudden rise to the top of the National League was more than impressive (after finishing at the bottom of the NL in 1937) and their "Cinderella season" featured the 2 winningest pitchers in all of baseball. Bucky Walters led the major-leagues with 27 wins and Paul Derringer backed him up with 25 of his own. For their opponents, the perennial championship Yankees, it was business as usual. New York finished the regular season with a 106-45 record and won their 4th consecutive pennant by 17 games.
Reds manager, Bill McKechnie, went with Derringer for Game 1 and Joe McCarthy selected Series regular, Red Ruffing. The Yankee veteran played true to form with an opening 4-hit, 2-1 victory that featured a last-inning, tie-breaker on a Bill Dickey single. Cincinnati was down, but not out as they had shown that they could stand tall against the 3x defending champions. Unfortunately for Reds fans, nothing changed the following day as Monte Pearson beat out Walters with a 2-hit, 4-0 masterpiece that put his team up 2 games-to-none. Babe Dahlgren (who had replaced Lou Gehrig for the Yankees) doubled and homered in support. The first-baseman had taken over May 2 when failing health and an accompanying decline in skills had forced the "Iron Horse" out of the New York lineup after 2,130 consecutive games. Not since 1923 had the Yankees engaged in postseason play without Gehrig and fans and players alike dearly missed his presence.
For Game 3, the Reds came out swinging and finally generated some offense against the Yankees pitching staff while out-hitting the Bronx Bombers by more than a 2-to-1 margin. However, as in most sports, "quality" mattered more than "quantity" as all 10 of Cincinnati's hits resulted in mere singles. New York, on the other hand, got 2-run homers from rookie Charlie Keller in the 1st and 5th innings, a 2-run blast from Joe DiMaggio (who batted a career-high .381 in the regular season) in the 3rd and a bases-empty shot from Bill Dickey in the 5th. The final was a 7-3 romp that put the Yanks one game away from their 4th consecutive championship.
Game 4 was a tense 0-0 standoff until the 7th, when Charlie Keller and Bill Dickey both launched bases-empty homers off of the returning Derringer. The Reds quickly answered back in their half of the inning for 3 unearned runs off reliever Steve Sundra, who had replaced ailing starter Oral Hildebrand in the 5th. Johnny Murphy tacked on an "insurance" run in the 8th, but shortstop Billy Myers' error on Dickey's potential double-play ball in the 9th enabled the Yankees to move within one. Then, New York scored again when DiMaggio beat a throw to the plate on Joe Gordon's grounder for the 4-4 tie. With runners on the corners and 1 out in the 10th, "Joe D" came up big again and singled to right for the game winner. That would have been trouble enough for Cincinnati, but rightfielder Ival Goodman misplayed the ball and another run headed home. That, too, would have been trouble enough for Cincinnati, but catcher Ernie Lombardi not only failed to hold Goodman's throw to the plate, but he also was knocked down by the onrushing Keller and the ball rolled away. As a result, DiMaggio was able to circle the bases untouched, as the Reds' receiver lay stunned. "Schnozz's snooze" the play was called, and it won a special place in baseball folklore despite its minimal impact overall. In the bottom of the 10th, Cincinnati managed to send the tying run to the plate three times, but were unable to finish the job as Johnny Murphy protected the Yankees' 7-4 lead for their second consecutive sweep, and fourth consecutive World Series title. Keller, the Series star, led the contest in runs scored (8), hits (7), home runs (3), RBIs (6) and batting average (.438). In the end, the Yankees had won 13 of their last 14 Series games and 28 of their last 31 games in baseball's premier event.
#12: 1941: Brooklyn Dodgers (1) vs. New York Yankees (4)
After a short, one-year absence, the perennial champion New York Yankees returned to the familiar territory of post-season baseball in 1941. Despite losing the AL pennant to the Detroit Tigers the year before, the "Bronx Bombers" were still favored after winning 13 of their last 14 Series games and 28 of their last 31 games in baseball's premier event. Joe McCarthy's franchise however, entered the post-season with heavy hearts after Yankee icon Lou Gehrig passed away on June 2 in Riverdale, New York. The "Iron Horse" had finally succumbed to a relatively unknown affliction known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis which has since been renamed Lou Gehrig's Disease. Despite their emotional scars, the power-laden Yanks had managed another one of their dominant pennant runs, winning the American League title by 17 games. Their cross-town and "cross-league" rivals, the Brooklyn Dodgers were determined to keep the World Championship title in National League hands and were dependant on solid pitching to keep the Yankees' sluggers in hold. The Dodger's rotation certainly had their work cut out for them as Joe DiMaggio, Charlie Keller and Tommy Henrich all hit at least 30 homers in 1941, and Joe Gordon slammed 24.
Nothing changed in the Series opener as the "Bronx Bombers" continued to get the job done. Gordon remained a standout as he homered and knocked in two runs for a 3-2 victory that featured a Red Ruffing 6-hitter. After losing to the Dodger's Whitlow Wyatt 3-2 in Game 2, the Yankees got a break and reclaimed the Series lead. Brooklyn's Freddie Fitzsimmons was locked in a 0-0 stalemate with Marius Russo in Game 3 when, with 2 out in the 7th, the Yankees pitcher fired a line drive that caught Fitzsimmons square on the knee. While shortstop Pee Wee Reese caught the deflected ball to end the inning, Fitzsimmons was obviously through for the day. Hugh Casey came in as relief but was nailed for 4 hits and 2 runs in the 8th. His teammates were only able to get only 4 hits off Russo and eventually lost 2-1. Despite trailing 2 games to 1, Brooklyn's pitching rotation was doing their share while holding the Yankees' sluggers to less than stellar stats. Through the first four games of the Fall Classic, the "Bombers" had managed a single home run off the Dodgers and in their 34 innings of Series at-bats preceding the fateful ninth of Game 4, the Yanks had scored only 10 runs.
Things seemed to be headed in the Dodgers' favor with a 4-3 lead and 2 out in the 9th (with no Yankees on base) when an error of catastrophic proportions turned the momentum of the game and inevitably, the Series. As a probable 3rd strike on Henrich crossed the plate, it was mishandled by the Dodger's catcher Mickey Owen. Instead of sealing the Series tying victory, the error kept the Yankees alive resulting in a 4 run rally that snatched the sweet taste of victory from the mouths of Brooklyn and left them with the bitter taste of a 7-4 defeat. The frenzied Ebbets Field crowd (who was poised for celebration) suddenly stood in disbelief as they watched their team implode. First, Henrich stole 1st on the Owen error. Then DiMaggio followed with a single, and Charlie Keller shot the Yankees ahead with a 2-run double. After a walk to Bill Dickey, Gordon further quieted the Dodgers faithful with another two-run double. The Yankees' Johnny Murphy then turned in his second consecutive inning of 1-2-3 relief, and New York had handed Brooklyn a devastating defeat.
"Sure, it was my fault," Owen said after the game. "The ball was a low curve that broke down. It hit the edge of my glove and glanced off, but I should have had him out anyway. But who ever said those Yanks were such great sluggers? They're the real bums in this Series, with that great reputation of theirs." It mattered little as the Yankees finished them off the following day when Ernie "Tiny" Bonham put the Dodgers out of their misery, tossing a four-hitter in Game 5. Henrich (who had dodged a bullet in his previous outing) homered in the Yankees' Series-clinching 3-1 triumph. Despite winning their 9th title, the "Bronx Bombers" had certainly failed to live up to their nickname at the plate. Surprisingly, the World Champions had managed only 2 home runs and averaged a mediocre .247 in the Series. Still, they managed to knock off their cross-town rivals (in what would eventually become known as the "Subway Series"), who got even less offensive production with 1 homer and a miserable .182 average.
#13: 1942: St. Louis Cardinals (4) vs. New York Yankees (1)
In 1942, it was business as usual for the defending champion New York Yankees. "Joe D" and the rest of the 2nd generation "Bronx Bombers" lit up the American League on their way to their 13th pennant. On the National League side it was the up-and-coming St. Louis Cardinals who were making a name for themselves as a worthy opponent. Manager Billy Southworth's Redbirds had proved conclusively during the 1942 season that they had what it took to win championships. Trailing the NL-leading Dodgers by 10 games on August 5, they rallied down the stretch (winning 43 of their last 51 games) to finish with a 2-game margin over Brooklyn.
Yankee veteran Red Ruffing stole the show in the Series opener while not allowing a single hit until he had 2 down in the 8th. Centerfielder, Terry Moore managed a weak single, but it mattered little as the Cardinals problems were just as bad on both sides of the ball. The Yankees were holding down a 7-0 lead with no errors while St. Louis was desperately trying to send a man home and had 4. Then it happened… just as they had to win the NL pennant late in the season, the Redbirds rallied again. First, Stan Musial, the Cardinals' left fielder, fouled out to open the 9th. Catcher Walker Cooper followed with a single, but first baseman Johnny Hopp flied out. The next batter, pinch-hitter Ray Sanders, walked. Then, the Cardinals lashed 5 consecutive hits that produced 4 runs. That brought Musial back to the plate with the bases loaded. Lucky for New York, Spud Chandler was on the mound and the closer forced Musial into a game-ending grounder to first base. Despite falling 1 run short of another miraculous comeback, the Cardinals had clearly shaken their World Series jitters, and showed the Yankees that they were indeed, a worthy contender.
Game 2 featured Cardinal Newcomer Beazley, who posted a 2.13 ERA on his way to 21 victories during the regular season. Beazley held onto a 3-0 lead going into the 8th inning, but gave up a run-scoring single to Joe DiMaggio and a 2-run homer to Charlie Keller. Now with the game tied, it was the Yankees turn. Unfortunately for New York, their rally would fall short thanks to Enos Slaughter's double and Musial's single in the bottom of the 8th. Slaughter ended the game with a clutch throw from right-field that nailed pinch-runner Tuck Stainback at 3rd base in the 9th. In the end, the Cards had evened the Series with a 4-3 triumph and they were just getting started. Things continued to go St. Louis' way as Ernie White dominated Game 3 by shutting out the Yankees on 6-hits for the 2-0 victory. It was total team effort though as the lefthander was supported by the great fielding skills that had won 106 regular-season games for the Cards: Moore made a great catch in the 6th and Musial and Slaughter both made clutch "homer-saving" catches in the 7th.
Mort Cooper, who won 22 games, threw 10 shutouts and posted an ERA of 1.78, returned against Hank Borowy the next day. Unfortunately nothing had changed for the Game 1 loser and he lasted only 5 1/3 innings as he was victimized by New York's 5-run 6th. His rival, Borowy only lasted into the 4th, an inning in which St. Louis got 2-run singles from Whitey Kurowski and their struggling pitcher and tallied 6 runs in all. In the 7th, Walker Cooper (Mort's brother) knocked a timely RBI single and snapped the 6-6 tie. Marty Marion added a run-scoring fly and reliever Max Lanier not only proceeded to pitch shutout ball the rest of the way, he also singled home an insurance run in the 9th. Once again the Cardinals had found the resolve and held on for the 9-6 victory.
Game 1 winner, Red Ruffing, returned for Game 5 against the youngster Beazley. Phil Rizzuto, (who had hit a total of 7 home runs in his first two big-league seasons with the Yankees), launched a Beazley fastball into the left-field stands in the 1st inning. St. Louis tied it in the fourth when Slaughter matched Rizzuto with his own homer to right, but New York slipped back into the lead in the bottom of the inning on DiMaggio's run-scoring single. The resilient Redbirds forged another deadlock in the 6th when Walker Cooper's fly ball scored another and the teams went to the 9th tied 2-2. Then, like Rizzuto, another unlikely hero, Kurowski (who had gone 3-for-14 at that point in the Series after batting .254 with 9 homers during the regular season in his first extended big-league play). stepped up to the plate and delivered with a game (and-Series) winning homer into the left-field stands. The surprise Cardinals had dethroned the mighty Yankees and taken the World title back for the National League. The devastating loss was the first since 1926 for the Yankees, who had won in all 8 of their appearances in the Fall Classic.
#14: 1943: St. Louis Cardinals (1) vs. New York Yankees (4)
In a classic-rematch of the previous year's contest, the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Yankees once again found themselves competing for the World Championship title. The underdog Redbirds had dethroned the mighty Bombers in 1942 and the devastating loss was the first since 1926 for the Yankees, who had won in all 8 of their appearances in the Fall Classic. Both teams had maintained their dominance throughout the 1943 season, despite losing several key players to military service. The Cardinals were without Howie Pollet (who left in August) and the Yankees lost Joe DiMaggio, Phil Rizzuto and Red Ruffing to tours of duty. On the home front, the Card's Stan Musial had a tremendous season, winning the NL batting title with an incredible .357 average. He was also backed up by the finest pitching in the National League as Pollet, Max Lanier and Mort Cooper ranked 1-2-3 in the league in ERA at 1.75, 1.90 and 2.30, respectively. The Yanks still boasted Charlie Keller and Joe Gordon who provided power at the plate with 31 and 17 homers, respectively. First baseman Nick Etten, (acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies) proved a significant addition as well and drove in a team-high 107 runs and Spud Chandler led the pitching staff with 20 wins. Even without "Joe D" and the gang, Joe McCarthy's team still won the AL pennant with a 13 1/2-game difference over second-place Washington.
In a repeat of the previous opener, the Cardinals fell behind, thanks to the pitching of Spud Chandler, who threw a 7-hit, 4-2 winner that featured a key 2-2 tie breaker in the 6th on singles by Frankie Crosetti and rookie third baseman Billy Johnson, a wild pitch by Lanier and another single by Bill Dickey. The big story in Game 2 was the bittersweet play of the Cardinal's Cooper brothers, who were mourning the death of their father who had passed away the day before. Mort pitched a 1-run ballgame for 8 innings and Walker singled in three at-bats and laid down a sacrifice bunt. Both brothers were backed up by Marty Marion, who belted a 3rd-inning homer with the bases empty, and Ray Sanders, who powered a 2-run shot in the 4th. Despite the Nationals best efforts, the Yankees rallied for two runs in the bottom of the 9th and wound up the 4-3 winners.
Al Brazle, a 29-year-old rookie who won 8-of-10 decisions in the regular season and boasted a 1.53 ERA, kept the Cards' hopes alive for a repeat of '42 (in which St. Louis won four straight to take the title) by pitching masterfully through 7 innings of Game 3. Unfortunately, the lefthander was unable to maintain his momentum in the 8th as the Yankees scored 5 times. Joe DiMaggio's replacement in centerfield, converted pitcher Johnny Lindell, started the rally with a double on the error of Harry Walker who misplayed the ball. Pinch-hitter George Stirnweiss bunted, and first baseman Sanders threw to third baseman Whitey Kurowski in an effort to cut down Lindell. The throw was in time, but Lindell crashed into Kurowski and knocked the ball loose. After a fly-ball moved Stirnweiss to second, Crosetti was walked intentionally to load the bases. Johnson, a .280 hitter in his first season with the Yankees, proceeded to foil the strategy by clearing the bases with a triple. Gordon and Etten added run-scoring singles later in the inning, pushing the score to 6-2. Johnny Murphy finished the job by working a 1-2-3 ninth in relief of winning pitcher Hank Borowy.
Nothing changed in Game 4 as Marius Russo put on a one-man show. A 5-10 pitcher for the Yankees in '43, Russo held St. Louis to 7 hits, doubled and scored the winning run in the 8th as New York won 2-1. As the Series headed to Game 5, the Yankees were thinking revenge and were 1 win away from having it. The Cardinals on the other hand, were only thinking about survival and selected Mort Cooper to go against Chandler the next day. The Redbirds put up a great offensive effort, knocking the Yankee pitcher for 10 hits, but were unable to score on any of them. The Bombers only needed one, a 2-run homer from Bill Dickey in the 6th that sealed their fate with a 2-0 triumph. The American's had their revenge and manager Joe McCarthy had his 7th (and final) World Series Championship.
#15: 1947: Brooklyn Dodgers (3) vs. New York Yankees (4)
The 1947 season is remembered not for the performance of any particular team, but that of an individual named Jackie Robinson. The Brooklyn Dodger's newest prospect became the first black player to break baseball's color barrier and the rookie infielder brought the Negro leagues' electrifying style of play to the majors. Although he was still subject to resistance among the ignorant, Robinson quickly became Baseball's top drawing card and a symbol of hope to millions of Americans. Jackie made quite a first impression with a .297 batting average, 12 homers and a league-leading 29 stolen bases in his first season. The defending world champion St. Louis Cardinals gave the Dodgers the best challenge in the NL pennant race, but ended up 5 games behind New York. Number 42 wasn't the only standout in Dodger blue as the "Bums from Brooklyn" also got solid production from its outfield. Pete Reiser totaled a .309 avg. in 110 games, Carl Furillo hit .295 with 88 RBIs and Dixie Walker tallied .306 and added 94 RBIs. On the mound, Ralph Branca finished with a 21-12 record, Joe Hatten went 17-8 and Hugh Casey nailed down 10 victories in relief.
The '47 Yankees, rallied down the stretch with a 19-game winning streak that began in late June and went on to win the American League pennant by a 12-game margin. Despite lacking the usual "Bronx Bombers" mystique (with no player attaining 100 RBIs) and only one, Joe DiMaggio, reaching the 20-homer level, the Yanks managed to counter the missing offense with great pitching. Allie Reynolds won 19 games in his first season with the club (after being obtained from Cleveland), Spud Chandler led the league with a 2.46 ERA, rookie Spec Shea and ace reliever Joe Page both had 14 wins and 2 new acquisitions and Bobo Newsom and Vic Raschi each won 7 games.
Shea drew the start for Game 1 and got the Yankees off to a strong start with a 5-3 opening victory despite a great 4-inning effort by the Dodger's Ralph Branca that imploded in the 5th. Reynolds maintained the Yanks momentum in Game 2 with a 10-3 triumph that featured a 15-hit rally by the Bronx Bombers. Leftfielder Johnny Lindell led the charge with 2 RBIs in each of the first two games. Back at Ebbet's Field, the Dodgers struck back with a crucial 9-8 win thanks to a 6-run, 2nd inning in which Brooklyn got 2-run doubles from Eddie Stanky and pinch-hitter Carl Furillo. The Yankees almost came back after "Joe D" hit a 2-run blast in the 5th, Tommy Henrich doubled home a Yankee run in the 6th and Yogi Berra added his own homer in the 7th. Unfortunately, it was too little - too late and the Dodgers held on for the victory.
Manager Bucky Harris chose Bill Bevens (winner of only 7-of-20 decisions in '47) for Game 4 and the unlikely hero pitched one of the most amazing 9 2/3 innings in World Series history. Although he permitted a 5th inning run (on 2 walks, a sacrifice and a ground ball), he entered the 9th with a no-hitter and a 2-1 lead. Bruce Edwards started the Dodgers' half of the inning by flying out, and Furillo drew a walk. Then Spider Jorgensen fouled out, bringing Bevens within one out of the first no-hitter in World Series history. Reserve outfielder Al Gionfriddo was sent in to run for Furillo and Pete Reiser came in as a pinch-hitter for reliever Hugh Casey. Gionfriddo proceeded to steal second and Reiser was walked intentionally, despite the fact he represented the potential winning run. To add yet another change, Eddie Miksis was sent in to run for Reiser, who was bothered by a recurring leg injury. Eddie Stanky was the next in the line-up, but Burt Shotton, (who had stepped in as Dodgers' manager after Leo Durocher was suspended) replaced him with veteran Cookie Lavagetto. The "Chess like" strategy of Shotton's multiple player moves proved brilliant as Lavagetto walloped Bevens' second pitch and Gionfriddo and Miksis sped home ending the potential no-hitter and evening the Series at 2 games apiece.
Down, but far from out, the perennial AL Champions responded in true Yankees fashion by "shaking it off " and answering the call with a 2-1 tie-breaker on a Spec Shea 4-hitter. Surprisingly, Brooklyn jumped to a 4-0 lead in Game 6 at Yankee Stadium, but fell behind 5-4, and then regained the lead with a 4-run, 6th capped off by Pee Wee Reese's 2-run single. Then, with 2 on and 2 out in the bottom of the 6th, Joe DiMaggio made a valiant effort to tie the game with a rocket launched toward the leftfield bullpen. Just as it appeared the ball might drop over the fence, Gionfriddo (inserted into the game as the Yankees came to bat) made a phenomenal glove-hand catch near the 415-foot mark sealing the victory. Once again, Brooklyn had come from behind to tie the Series forcing a Game 7. Things appeared to go their way at the start of the Series finale when Brooklyn seized a 2-0 lead and drove Shea from the mound in the 2nd. The rally was short lived though as the Yankees scored a run in the 2nd, 2 in the 4th and had tremendous relief pitching from Joe Page. The Yankees ace went on to throw 5 scoreless innings while allowing only 1 hit in the 5-2, Series ending triumph. For several standouts including Lavagetto, Gionfriddo and Bevens, it would be not only their last World Series, but also their last major-league games.
#16: 1949: Brooklyn Dodgers (1) vs. New York Yankees (4)
After 9 unsuccessful seasons with both Boston and Brooklyn (in which he never finished higher than 5th), manager Casey Stengel finally had success in the minors while coaching Oakland to the Pacific Coast League pennant in 1948. Shortly after, he was called up to replace Bucky Harris as the Yankees skipper in what would become the start of a long-standing… and winning relationship. New York, who had fallen from 1st to 3rd under Harris, responded to Stengel's appointment by winning their 16th American League pennant and doing so in dramatic fashion. Stengel's team trailed Boston by one game as manager Joe McCarthy's Red Sox arrived at Yankee Stadium for a season-closing two-game set, but the Yankees swept them in classic "Curse of the Bambino" fashion. Across-town the Brooklyn Dodgers were "cutting it close" as well while managing to beat the St. Louis Cardinals (by 1 game) in the NL pennant race.
Don Newcombe, who had a 17-8 record as a Dodgers rookie in 1949, drew the start and did all he could to spoil Stengel's debut. Through 8 innings of Game 1, Newcombe struck out 11 Yankees, walked no one, surrendered only 4 hits and had not permitted a run. Pitching rival Allie Reynolds wasn't far behind with 9 strikeouts, 4 walks, 2-hits and no runs. Reynolds managed to retire the order in the 9th on a grounder, popup and fly ball, but Newcombe was not as lucky as the Yankees' Tommy Henrich put one over the right field stands for the win. The Dodgers answered the close Yankees' triumph the next day with a Game 2 nailbiter of their own. Preacher Roe outpitched Vic Raschi for the 1-0 win and Gil Hodges singling home Jackie Robinson, who had doubled, in the 2nd inning.
The tensions continued in the third game as both teams remained locked in a 1-1 stalemate through the 8th. Former National League slugger Johnny Mite, (purchased in August from the New York Giants), knocked a bases-loaded single off Dodger starter Ralph Branca in the top of the 9th for the 3-1 Yankee lead and Jerry Coleman followed with a run-scoring single off reliever Jack Banta. New York's Joe Page, having pitched 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief since taking over for Tommy Byrne in the fourth, shouldered that lead into the Dodgers' half of the inning. Page was rocked for 2 home runs, the first a one-out shot by Luis Olmo, who hit one homer for Brooklyn in the regular season, and the second a two-out smash by Roy Campanella. But no one was on base either time, and Page and the Yankees hung on for a 4-3 victory.
In Game 4, the Yankees drove Newcombe from the mound with a 3-run, 4th (Cliff Mapes supplied the key hit with a two-run double) and then got 3 more in the 5th when Bobby Brown drilled a bases-loaded triple off Joe Hatten. Brooklyn answered back with 4 runs in the 6th off Eddie Lopat. Reynolds came to the rescue by retiring Brooklyn's final 10 batters and New York, a 6-4 winner, was one victory from their 12th World Series title. Determined to finish the job, the Bronx Bombers ended all the trends and came out swinging in Game 5. The Yankee sluggers scored in 5 of the first 6 innings and promptly built a 10-2 lead. Gil Hodges' 3-run homer in the Dodgers' 4-run, 7th cut into the deficit, but Page's relief work in place of Vic Raschi shut down Brooklyn's batters. In the end, the Yankees prevailed 10-6 with Coleman driving in 3 runs and Brown and DiMaggio both collecting 2 RBIs each. "Joe D", (who missed half of the season because of an injury, but still batted .346 with 67 RBIs in 76 regular-season games), struggled overall in the Series, but added a bases-empty homer in the 4th. Although it was the Yankees 12th World Series title, it was Casey Stengel's 1st and there were many more to come.
#17: 1950: Philadelphia Phillies (0) vs. New York Yankees (4)
The Philadelphia Phillies climbed to the top of the NL thanks to a clutch performance down the home stretch by 20-game winner, Robin Roberts. Roberts pitched 3 times in the last 5 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 (17 victories) to the Army and recurring injuries to rookie pitchers Bob Miller and Bubba Church. The Philly skipper shocked everyone after nominating a 33-year-old right-hander named Jim Konstanty, who had not made a single start during the 1950 regular season. He did however appear in 74 games and the standout reliever was 16-7 with a 2.66 ERA. 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 (Pirates, Cardinals, Cubs, Reds) in 24 years and captured 12 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 1 run and 4 hits in 8-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 more-than-ready for Game 2. The Philadelphia ace went up against New York right-hander, Allie Reynolds and neither blinked through a 1-1, 9-inning standoff. So far, through 2 regulation games, there had been a total of 3 runs scored as the pitchers clearly dominated the contest (much to the dismay of the crowds). Joe DiMaggio added a 4th to the total after launching a leadoff homer in the 10th for a 2-1 triumph. Now down 2 games to none, the Phillies were desperate for an advantage on the mound and called upon an unlikely hero named Ken Heintzelman (a 17-game winner for the Phillies in 1949 but a lowly, 3-9 pitcher in 1950). Despite his regular season stats, the lefthander started beautifully in Game 3 against Eddie Lopat and carried a 2-1 lead going into the 8th. After retiring the first 2 Yankees, Heintzelman stuttered and walked 3 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 9th 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 9th inning with a 5-0 lead. A shutout seemed inevitable for Ford as he forced Andy Seminick to hit a textbook fly to leftfield. 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 (10) and most strikeouts (94).
#18: 1951: 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 games veteran superstars and the introduction of a new generation of talent. Many of the games biggest names from the previous 2 decades were nearing the end of their careers and the empty spaces on the line-up 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 19 year-old Mantle was called up to the big leagues from the Yankees Kansas City franchise and hit 13 homers in 96 games. Mays had been called up in late May by the Giants from their Minneapolis team (where he was batting .477) and the 20-year old responded with 20 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 13 1/2 games. Beginning August 12, the Giants won 16 consecutive outings and 37 of their last 44 to forge a tie for the top of the NL with Brooklyn. They went on to beat the Dodgers in a best-of-three playoff, ending with the infamous Thomson 3-run homer off Ralph Branca that gave the Giants a 5-4 victory in the 3rd 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 7-hits and Alvin Dark came up big with a 3-run homer. Monte Irvin was the game's "MVP" though with 3 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 5-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 5th with a high shot to right-center in what was to be an easy fly-out. Centerfielder Joe DiMaggio prepared to make the catch while Mickey Mantle followed from rightfield 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 19-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 18-season career.
Game 3 remained anyone's for 4 1/2 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 1 out in the 5th, 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 on the slide and scrambled up and onto 3rd. Instead of 2 out and nobody on, Stanky was standing firm on third with only 1 out. Dark scored him in on his next single and Whitey Lockman delivered the final blow, a 3-run homer for the 6-2 victory at the Polo Grounds.
With a 2 games-to-1 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 8th (and last) 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 2nd and 3rd for Stengel's club, nailed a bases-loaded homerun in the 3rd off Larry Jansen. The rocket, which broke a 1-1 tie, was only the 3rd 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 5 innings. With the bases loaded and 2 out in the 6th, 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 38 previous at-bats in the Fall Classic, Bauer had collected only 5 hits (all singles), a .132 Series batting average and only 1 RBI in postseason play. This time the former US Marine came through with "flying colors" with a bases-clearing triple. Then in the 9th, after the Giants closed within 1 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 36, Mantle would appear in 11 more World Series, and Mays would compete in the Fall Classic 3 more times. The Yankees were now 14-4 in World Series appearances and 1951 marked the start of what would become their second dynasty.
#19: 1952: Brooklyn Dodgers (3) vs. New York Yankees (4)
In what was now becoming expected, the New York Yankees returned for their 18th 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 6-hit effort by Joe Black who was coming off a 15-4 season in which he made 56 appearances (the first 54 coming in relief). Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider and Pee Wee Reese all supported the rookie's debut effort with homers 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 3-run blast and a RBI single that backed up Vic Raschi's 7-1 performance. Not to be outdone, the Dodgers came back swinging 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 2 games apiece, but Carl Erskine answered back with a 6-5 win in the 11-inning, Game 5. The Dodger ace allowed only 4-hits and all 5 runs in the 5th inning but permitted only 1 other hit which was a bunt-single by Mickey Mantle in the 4th. Duke Snider, who wound up with 4 homers and 8 RBIs in the Series, hit a 2-run homer in the 5th to counter a 3-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 5 1/2 innings. Loes got the upper hand however, when Snider knocked a Raschi pitch into the rightfield bleachers to lead off their 6th. Unfortunately for the Dodger faithful, the 1-0 lead vanished immediately in the top of the 7th when Yogi Berra led off with a 1-run blast igniting a Yanks rally. Raschi knocked in the 2nd run by singling off his adversary's knee and Mickey Mantle kept the momentum alive in the 8th 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 2 out, Allie Reynolds came in as relief. Reynolds, the Yankees' big winner in 1952 with 20 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 9th.
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 10 games for the Yanks in '52 (after going 21-9 in '51), but it mattered little as the Yankees dominated the 7th 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 1st on balls, Billy Cox singled and Pee Wee Reese walked as well. Anticipating a disaster, Bob Kuzava was summoned from the bullpen. The lefthander came up huge and got Snider to fly out to 3rd bringing up Jackie Robinson. With the count at 3-2, Robinson snapped a textbook pop-up towards the mound. Kuzava seemed confused on 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 3rd. Billy Martin, who was caught in the middle at 2nd 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 4 consecutive World Series titles.
#20: 1953: Brooklyn Dodgers (2) vs. New York Yankees (4)
In a classic rematch of the previous year's classic, "The Bronx Bombers" and "The Bums from Brooklyn" returned for yet another "Subway Series". The Yankees were poised for their 5th 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 come up big during the regular season. Carl Erskine led the rotation with 20 victories, Russ Meyer went 15-5 and Billy Loes boasted a 14-8 record. Preacher Roe posted an 11-3 total, boosting his 3-year mark to 44-8 and Clem Labine won 10 games in relief and 11 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 line-up on the mound enabled Charlie Dressen's team to win the NL pennant race by a staggering 13 games over the newly moved Milwaukee Braves.
The '53 AL 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 200 RBIs and Gene Woodling (.306) and Hank Bauer (.304) led the line-up in hitting. The Yankees top 5 pitchers were even better with a 74-30 record. Whitey Ford, who had returned from a military tour of duty, led the staff with 18 victories and veteran Eddie Lopat, who 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 2nd baseman nailed a 3-run triple in the 1st and went on to collect 3 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 Leaguer 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 7th. Mantle also continued adding to his ever-growing, post-season stats with a 2-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 14 strikeouts (4 of them on Mantle) and MVP Roy Campanella finished the job with a tie-breaking homer in the 8th 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 2 doubles and a homerun along with Gilliam who had 3 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, 25-hit blowout (Mantle's was a grandslam). 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 2nd baseman had tallied 12 hits (a record), 8 RBIs and a staggering .500 average against the Dodgers who had lost the Series for the 7th time in 7 outings. The Yankees on the other hand, had won a record 5th consecutive title, were 15 for 16 in World Series appearances and had kept the trophy in the American League clubhouse for the 7th year in a row.
#21: 1955: Brooklyn Dodgers (4) vs. New York Yankees (3)
For the third time in 4 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 had. Of the Dodgers' 7 World Series setbacks, the last 5 had come at the hands of the Yankees. However, this year, the "Bums from Brooklyn" won 10 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 13 1/2-game lead over the second-place Milwaukee Braves. The Yankees had missed the previous year's Classic (despite winning 103 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 20-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 2 homeruns and rookie sensation Elston Howard (the first black Yankee) added a 3rd. The Dodgers went down 6-5 and little would change the following day as Tommy Byrne, a 35-year-old lefthander, held the Dodgers to only 5 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' 17-game winner, Bob Turley. A better script could not have been written for the occasion as the young man (on his 23rd 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 2 games apiece. Brooklyn's train "kept a rolling" in Game 5 when rookie pitcher Roger Craig worked 6+ 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, 4-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 4 innings, until Campanella doubled and scored on a single by Gil Hodges. The Dodgers continued to pick up the pace in the 6th 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 2nd and 3rd. 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 6th, Jim Gilliam moved from leftfield to 2nd, 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 8 hits and 2 walks, Podres managed to hold "the Pinstripes" at bay and entered the 9th with a 2-run lead. Skowron started the Yankees' last at-bat by putting back to Podres for the easy out. Next Bob Cerv flied out 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 NL pennant the following year, but their days were numbered and they would play only 2 more seasons in the "Big Apple" before moving to sunny California.
#22: 1956: 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 5 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 3 out of the 4 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 11 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 2 games to none. However as sports often shows us, adversity and pride can turn a sinking ship around. Amazingly the Yankees aces rebounded for 5 consecutive complete-game performances from 5 pitchers who combined to allow the Dodgers 6 runs and 21 hits in 45 2/3 innings. In Game 3, a 3-run homer by late-August acquisition Enos Slaughter and 8-hit pitching by "The Chairman" Whitey Ford had rallied the Yankees to their first victory, while Tom Sturdivant's 6-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 $2000 piece of sports memorabilia. The Dodgers couldn't have predicted the beating they were about to take either. During the 1st inning, the Yankees' 27-year-old right-hander Don Larsen went to his first and only "ball 3" 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 2nd inning, Jackie Robinson smashed a line drive that was deflected by Yankees 3rd baseman Andy Carey to shortstop Gil McDougald, who threw out Robinson at 1st. In the 4th 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 off big. 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 5th, Gil Hodges (a 32-homer 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 9th inning came to a close, Larsen got a called 3rd 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, 10-inning shutout that ended after an Enos Slaughter error turned Robinson's bottom-of-the-l0th 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 27-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 2-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 7th and finished the job with a grand slam of his own off of Roger Craig who had replaced Newcombe in relief. Kucks returned the favor and held the defending champions to just 3-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 3 years in New York before bouncing from team to team over the final 7 seasons of a 14-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.
#23: 1957: Milwaukee Braves (4) vs. New York Yankees (3)
As predicted (and as usual) the New York Yankees continued to dominate the AL on their way to their 22nd Fall Classic with what seemed like a never-ending line-up 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 line-up card, but equally dominated the NL on the way to their 3rd pennant. The Milwaukee Braves were a definite contender and featured a "big gun" outfielder named Henry Aaron. "Hank" as he was called, tallied 44 home runs, 132 RBIs and batted .322 in his 4th season. He was backed up by 3rd baseman Eddie Mathews who knocked 32 homers of his own and outfielder Wes Covington who added 21 in 96 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 centerfield. Burton was eventually replaced after a knee injury by Bob Hazle who batted a phenomenal .403 in 41 games. On the mound, Milwaukee's rotation boasted 56 wins from Warren Spahn (who had 20 wins for the 8th 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 5-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 20 year-old rookie, who doubled as both a utility outfielder and infielder, nailed 2 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 9th. After retiring the first 2 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 10th, Hank Bauer tripled home Kubek, and the Yankees, (who were 1 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 32-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 of Bob Grim. With the game tied, 5-5, Eddie Mathews put his team over the top by belting a home run to right 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 (114 wins in 2 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 6th. After 2 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 38 homers in '56, he had managed a meager 12 homers in 65 games.
Game 6 remained anyone's for 7 innings until Hank Bauer launched a rocket off of 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 2-run shot for the Yanks and Frank Torre had connected for the Braves. Besides surrendering the 2 homers, Yankees right-hander Bob Turley allowed only 2 other hits. In a bizarre twist, 1 year and 2 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 3rd-inning. After Mathews tagged him for a 2-run double, Larsen allowed the Braves to score 4 times. Del Crandall tacked on another run in the 8th 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 3 complete-game victories (with or without his "spitball"). Aaron had remained the Braves top standout throughout the postseason with 3 homers, 7 RBIs and a spectacular .393 average.
#24: 1958: 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 2nd 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 2 Fall Classics in a row. It was new territory for Casey Stengel's Yankees and they were determined not to make it 3. 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 3 complete-game winner in '57) showed his talents on the other side of the plate with a 3-run blast that capped off a 7-run rally in the 1st. He continued his balanced attack by holding the Yankees to just 2 runs and 3 hits going into the 9th. Things changed quickly however, as he was shelled for 4 hits resulting in 3 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 17 games. The record wouldn't last long though as Warren Spahn would outdo the Yankees outfielder the very next day.
Down 3 games to 1, New York was nearing the end of an era and the Braves were on the verge of clinching their 2nd consecutive title. Burdette returned to face Bob Turley (a 21-game winner) in a final showdown. Backed by Gil McDougald's bases-empty homer in the 3rd, Elston Howard's spectacular snatch (and double play) off Red Schoendienst's 6th-inning liner and a 6-run rally against Burdette and reliever Juan Pizarro in the bottom of the 6th, Turley emerged a 7-0 winner by giving up only 5-hits and chalking up 10-Ks. Things remained in their favor the following day as the Yanks squared the Series with a 4-3, 10-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 3 innings before hitting the showers. A short-rested Turley returned in relief and after escaping a bases-loaded situation in the 3rd, held a 2-1 lead over Burdette and the Braves entering the Milwaukee 6th. With 2 out, though, Del Crandall belted a game-tying home run. After both clubs were held scoreless in the 7th, Burdette retired the first two Yankees in the 8th. 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 suite with a go-ahead single. Andy Carey singled off of 3rd 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 2-hits in 6 2/3 innings of relief, the Yankees managed to beat the odds for their 18th World Series title.
The surprise comeback had not only restored the Yankees to their previous stature, it had also tied a record as they became only the 2nd team (1925 Pittsburgh Pirates) to rally back from a 3-1 deficit to win baseball's most prestigious crown. Hank Bauer (who was a 9-Series veteran) led with most runs scored (6), most hits (10), most home runs (4) and most RBIs (8). He also topped the Yankees sluggers with a .323 average. Despite less-than-stellar stats in his first 4 Classics (7 for 57 with a .123 avg.), he combined for 18 hits, 6 homers, 14 RBIs and a .290 average against the Braves in '57 and '58.
#25: 1960: Pittsburgh Pirates (4) vs. New York Yankees (3)
After a 35-year hiatus, baseball's first modern National League champions (1901), the Pittsburgh Pirates finally returned to the Fall Classic. Their opponent, the American League's New York Yankees had participated in 8 of the last 10 contests and only had to wait 1 year to get back to the big show. Pittsburgh had no problem knocking off their "postseason cobwebs" and started strong with an opening 6-4 lead against the perennial champs in Game 1 at Forbes Field. However, their initial momentum was cut short as the Yanks dominated Games 2 and 3. Mickey Mantle did more than his share (2 homers and 5 RBIs) and his teammates followed close behind totaling 19 hits off of 6 different Pirate pitchers. The result was a 16-3 victory in the Steel City and a 10-0 shutout back home in the Bronx. Bobby Richardson took Mantle's example in the opener and added a grand slam off of reliever Clem Labine in the 3rd and a 2-run single giving him a record 6 RBIs. "The Mick" responded with 2 more home runs of his own and 3 other hits, while Whitey Ford tossed his usual 4-hitter.
A determined Pirate team went back to the basics and gave the ball to first-game winner Vern Law for Game 4. The NL's Cy Young Award winner, combined with relief ace Roy Face to beat back the Yankees, 3-2 in an outing that was decided on Bill Virdon's single in the 5th that scored 2 of Pittsburgh runs. Attempting to avoid a comeback, New York made a controversial decision and decided to go with Game 1 loser, Art Ditmar, who had only lasted 1/3 of an inning. Some believed (in retrospect) that Stengel had thought the "Bucs" would underestimate the young pitcher, giving him the advantage. Unfortunately the Yankees skipper was wrong as Bill Mazeroski took him for a key-double in the Pirate's 3-run, 2nd inning. Face returned with 2 2/3 innings of hitless relief after replacing starter and winner Harvey Haddix to nail down the 5-2 triumph which put Pittsburgh in the lead.
It was a completely different story in Game 6 as the day belonged to the "Bronx Bombers". Richardson had 2 triples, Johnny Blanchard added 2 doubles, Roger Maris and Yogi Berra (and Blanchard) all collected 3-hits each and before it over, the Yankees finished with 17-hits and 12 runs. Whitey Ford added to the "Buccos" embarrassment by shutting them out again and many felt that it was all but over. Despite forcing another opportunity at their own Forbes Field, Pittsburgh had clearly been dominated by New York who outscored them a staggering 38-3 in the Series. However, Game 7 would erase those numbers and leave fans in both agony and ecstasy.
Vern Law and the rest of the Pirates showed why they were still there by rolling over New York to take an early 4-0 lead. However, the Yankees came back with key performances at the plate by Bill Skowron, Mantle and Yogi Berra who shot to a 5-4 lead going into the 8th-inning. They continued to lead 7-5 and looked to be in great shape as reliever Bobby Shantz appeared at the top of his game. Fortunately for the Pirates, appearances can sometimes be deceiving.
Gino Cimoli led off the Pittsburgh 8th with a pinch-single and Bill Virdon hit a sharp grounder toward Yankees' shortstop, Tony Kubek. After the speeding ball took a bad hop and struck Kubek in the throat (resulting in a single) Joe DeMaestri was summoned to replace him as both Pirates remained on base. Dick Groat followed with another single cutting the lead to 7-5 and Roberto Clemente kept the rally going with an infield hit that scored Virdon and advanced Groat to 3rd. Now trailing 7-6, Pittsburgh had two runners on base and Hal Smith at the plate. Smith, who entered the game in the top of the 8th after Pirates catcher Smoky Burgess had left for a pinch-runner in the previous inning, sent shock waves through the Pittsburgh crowd by blasting a timely home run over the left-field wall.
Bob Friend, an 18-game winner for the Pirates and the "Bucs" starter in Games 2 and 6, came on in the 9th to try to protect the 9-7 lead. The Yankees Bobby Richardson and pinch-hitter Dale Long both greeted Friend with singles and Pirates manager, Danny Murtaugh was forced to lift the veteran pitcher in favor of Harvey Haddix. Although he forced Roger Maris to foul out, Haddix gave up a key single to Mantle that scored Richardson and moved Long to 3rd. Berra followed suite hitting short grounder to first, with Rocky Nelson stepping on the base for the second out. In what, at the time, stood as a monumental play, Mantle, seeing he had no chance to beat a play at second, scurried back to first and avoided Nelson's tag (which would have been the 3rd out) as McDougald raced home to tie the score, 9-9. The Yankees were still alive.
Ralph Terry, who had gotten the final out in the Pirates' 8th, returned to the mound in the bottom of the 9th to finish the job. The first man he faced was Bill Mazeroski. With a count of 1 ball and no strikes, the Pirates' second baseman smashed a historical long drive over the wall in left ending the contest and crowning the National League as champions. As the Pirates erupted in a wild celebration, the Yankees stood in disbelief knowing that they had clearly dominated the series, but were unable to finish the task. The improbable champions were outscored, 55-27, and out-hit, 91-60, but in the end the home team prevailed. Years later, Mickey Mantle was quoted as saying that losing the 1960 series was the biggest disappointment of his career. For Bill Mazeroski, it was the highlight.
#26: 1961: Cincinnati Reds (1) vs. New York Yankees (4)
1961 was a season that witnessed one of the most amazing performances in all of baseball as Yankees teammates Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris went head-to-head for the all-time, single-season homerun record set by another slugger in pinstripes named Ruth. Both men were extremely gifted athletes on both sides of the ball and their friendship and competitiveness was second to none. The press had dubbed them "The M&M Boys" and their story is an incredible example of what impact sports can have when 2 teammates who are as opposite as can be, come together to create something special. In the previous season, in his first game in Yankee pinstripes, Maris singled, doubled, and smacked 2 home runs. His MVP numbers included a league leading 112 RBIs and 39 home runs, only one behind league-leader Mantle although he missed 18 games with injuries. However, in 1961, Maris stayed healthy and played in 161 games, (his career high). As he and Mantle made their charge at Babe Ruth's home run record, the Yankees considered switching Maris (who batted 3rd) and Mantle (4th), to give "The Mick" (clearly the fan favorite) a better shot. Many experts feel that if the switch had been made, Maris almost certainly would not have broken the record.
Regardless of the decision, Mantle fell back in the middle of September when he suffered a serious infection in his hip. Maris kept it up and went into the 154th game of the season in Baltimore with 58 homers. He gave it his best shot that night, hitting No. 59 and then launched a long foul on his second-to-last at bat. Unfortunately, in his last at-bat (against Hoyt Wilhelm) he hit a disappointing, checked-swing grounder. Despite the setback, Maris remained determined and finally passed "The Bambino" on the last day of the season against the Red Sox's Tracy Stallard. Fittingly, it went about 340 feet into Yankee Stadium's right field porch. Maris also finished the regular season with back-to-back MVP honors, driving in a league leading 142 runs. As expected Ford C. Frick ruled that since Maris had played in a 162-game schedule (as opposed to Ruth's 154 one), his record would be listed officially with a qualifying asterisk; this decision stood until 1991. Although, he never experienced the same hitting streak, his consistency as a power hitter continued and he hit 275 home runs during his 12-year career.
As expected, the rest of the '61Yankees were at the top of their game (winning 109) while attempting to forget the devastating loss in the previous years Series after the Pirates Bill Mazeroski hit "the shot heard round the world" in Game 7. New York, which had surprisingly dismissed Casey Stengel after the '60 Series, was now under the guidance of Ralph Houk. The new skipper was a former reserve catcher and coach for the Yanks who practiced a slightly more modern philosophy than his long-time predecessor. Whitey Ford continued to dominate on the mound and finished with an amazing 25-4 record and relief ace Luis Arroyo had a masterful season going 15-5, with a 2.19 ERA.
Their rivals, the Cincinnati Reds had climbed to the top of the National League on the solid arm of Joey Jay (a .500 career pitcher in Milwaukee but a 21-game winner in Cincinnati). Many fans felt that it would be a showdown between pitchers and did not anticipate any high-scoring events despite the lumber wielding line-ups. Ford proved the predictions right in the first game while holding the Reds to 2 measly singles for a 2-0 victory at home in the Bronx. Jim O'Toole had pitched extremely well throughout the opener, but fell victim to the '61 Yankees signature otherwise known as the home run. After all, they had belted 240 during the regular season and boasted the newly crowned "King of Swing" in Maris. The Red's newest ace, Jay was given the start for Game 2 and promptly answered back with a 6-2 masterpiece of his own. After trading runs early on, the Reds pulled ahead on catcher Elston Howard's passed ball, which followed singles by Elio Chacon and Eddie Kasko. Johnny Edwards extended the lead to 4-2 with a run-scoring single in the 6th and a throwing error by Yankees reliever Luis Arroyo as well as an RBI double by Edwards netted the Reds their final 2 runs in the 8th.
Game 3 returned the contest to Cincinnati for the first time in 21 years and the home team looked to maintain their momentum with a 2-1 lead going into the 8th-inning. Bob Purkey had tossed an impressive 4-hitter, but was nailed by John Blanchard, who had contributed mightily to the Yanks long-ball rally with 21 homers (in only 243 at-bats) during the regular season. The pinch-hitter/reserve catcher/outfielder stepped up in place of Bud Daley and belted his 22nd home run deep into the right-field bleachers. Maris, who was hitless in 10 Series at-bats led off the 9th and hammered his 62nd of the year into the same seats as Blanchard. As the Reds took their turn, Arroyo was sent in to finish the job and induced pinch-hitters Dick Gernert and Gus Bell to ground out, ending the game.
Whitey Ford returned in Game 4 to build on his Series scoreless-inning streak of 27 and eyed up another one of Babe Ruth's records of 29. The Yankees veteran had no problem adding 5 more innings before leaving in the 6th with an ankle problem. By then his team had a 4-run lead thanks to Clete Boyer's 2-run double in the 6th. Jim Coates who had replaced the "The Chairman" tossed 4-innings of 1-hit relief while Mantle, who was limited to 6 Series at-bats, was replaced by Hector Lopez, who hammered a 2-run single in the 7th on the way to a 7-0 final. In Game 5, the "Bronx Bombers" picked right up where they had left off scoring 5 runs in the 1st-inning. In the 4th, they added 5 more and steamrolled over the Reds 13-5 for the closing win and the title.
Although the "The M&M Boys" had managed only 3 hits and 2 RBIs in 25 at-bats, Blanchard and Lopez compensated with 10 runs while going 7-19. Lopez had even gone further with an amazing 7 RBIs in 9 at-bats. As predicted originally, pitching was the determining factor in the '61 Series as Ford, Coates and Daley went 25-innings without surrendering a single earned-run.
#27: 1962: San Francisco Giants (3) vs. New York Yankees (4)
Over the last few decades, the defending champion New York Yankees had made an art out of dominating the American League on the way to their 25th Fall Classic. It was becoming all-to-predictable and the early 1960's were looking a lot like the 50's when the "Pinstripes" played in 8 out of the 10 world championships. On the other side of the ball, the National League's representatives were a familiar opponent to the Yanks as well as former "roommates". The Giants had finally recaptured the NL pennant for the first time since moving across the country to San Francisco (after the 1957 season) and it seemed fitting that the preclude to this "Subway Series" revival was a playoff between the Los Angeles Dodgers who used to call Brooklyn their home.
Series veteran Whitey Ford was given his usual Game 1 start by the Yanks sophomore manager Ralph Houk and extended his World Series consecutive-innings scoreless streak to 33 before San Francisco got on the scoreboard in the 2nd-inning. The Giants Billy O'Dell kept pace with "The Chairman" through 6-innings, but finally surrendered to Clete Boyer and his fellow "Bombers" in the closing innings for a 6-2 loss. Jack Sanford got revenge the following day though with a 3-hit, 2-0 shutout that evened the contest at a game a piece. Billy Pierce continued the cycle in Game 3, blanking the Yankees through 6-innings until the newly crowned single-season homerun leader, Roger Maris, broke through the deadlock with a 2-run single in the 7th and eventually scored on a force-out grounder. Yankees closer Bill Stafford almost blew it in the 9th after giving up a 2-run blast of his own to Ed Bailey, but managed to pull it together for the 3-2 victory.
Game 4 featured a rare break-out performance at the plate by the Giants' Chuck Hiller. An unlikely threat to the Yankees power pitching, the 2nd baseman had hit only 20 home runs in his 8-year major-league career. Those numbers didn't matter though as he nailed a bases-loaded homer off of Yankees reliever Marshall Bridges in the 7th. It was the first grand-slam ever in a World Series outing by a National Leaguer and snapped the 2-all tie that resulted in a San Francisco victory at Yankees Stadium. In a strange twist the winning Giants reliever was none other than Don Larsen who (exactly 6 years earlier to the day) pitched his record-setting perfect game for the home team against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Ralph Terry, who had gone 0-4 in Series outings finally managed to cross over in Game 5. As with the rest of the outings, both teams were locked in a tie late in the game. This time, it was Tom Tesh's turn to take the lead. The New York rookie hammered a 3-run, 8th-inning homer off Sanford who lost the game despite putting up 10-K's in 7 1/3 innings. After a 5 day absence (due to travel and 3 rain delays) the Series returned with the Giants well rested and ready to even the score. Billy Pierce's 3-hitter and Cepeda's 3 hits and 2 RBIs netted San Francisco's the crucial 5-2 triumph that held the Fall Classic at a 3-3 standoff.
Terry, who had given up the deciding blast to Bill Mazeroski in the 1960 heart-breaker, returned for the start in Game 7 and responded by holding the Giants to just 2-hits (and a 1-0 lead) going into the 9th. The Yankees pitcher had found some redemption winning 23 games during the regular season in '62 and was on his way to a complete-game victory. Pinch-hitter Matty Alou led off the inning with a perfect bunt for base 1, but Terry answered back by striking out both Felipe Alou and Hiller. Willie Mays, who had just completed a phenomenal 49-homer, 141-RBI season, rose to the occasion and blasted a double to right field. Maris made a sprinting grab and managed to reach cutoff man Bobby Richardson to hold Alou at 3rd. Despite the great defensive stand by the Yankees, clean-up man, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda were due up next. During the regular season, McCovey had tallied 20-home runs and 54 RBIs while Cepeda added 35 homers and 144 runs batted in. Houk elected to keep Terry in, believing the right-hander would handle the Giants lefty. With a 1-ball, 1-strike count on McCovey, Terry brought the heat, but the Giants slugger sent the offering toward right field. 2nd baseman Richardson moved slightly to his left and desperately reached up with his glove snagging the ball and another World Series title.
Once again, the mighty Yanks had been able to hold off a worthy opponent despite failing to win consecutive games at any point in the Series and getting .174 and .120 batting marks from two of their biggest threats, Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle. Their less-than stellar stats were certainly a compliment to the Giants pitching staff as the "The M&M Boys" had posted 178 homeruns combined in the last 2 seasons. It mattered little though as the American League's dynasty had proven that they were back and ready for more.
#28: 1963: Los Angeles Dodgers (4) vs. New York Yankees (0)
The National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers had rebounded from a late-season collapse in 1962 and went on to win the NL pennant with a 6-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals. The biggest factor in the team's comeback was an all-star pitching combination featuring a young lefty named Sandy Koufax and a right-hander named Don Drysdale. Koufax had struck out a staggering 306 batters in 311 innings and his counterpart had won 19 games with a 2.63 ERA. Veteran Johnny Podres had added 14 wins of his own (5 shutouts) and ace reliever Ron Perranoski made 69 appearances while going 16-3 with a 1.67 ERA. Their opponents, to no surprise, were their long-time rivals the New York Yankees, who in classic "Bomber style", boasted 4 sluggers with 20+ homers and an equally qualified pitching rotation. Whitey Ford had 24 victories and Jim Bouton, Ralph Terry and Al Downing prospered as well winning the AL pennant by 10 1/2 games. It was the 7th meeting in the Fall Classic between the 2 ball clubs with the American Leaguers leading the marathon 6-1.
Koufax went against Ford in the opener and quickly set the pace by striking out his first 5 batters including Tony Kubek, Bobby Richardson, Tom Tresh, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. Before the Yankees had a single hit off the rising left-hander, his team was up 4-0. Former Yankee Bill Skowron (who had been obtained after the '62 Series) singled home a Dodger run in the top of the 2nd and John Roseboro cracked a 3-run homer later that inning. He added another run in the 3rd and Koufax continued to dominate at the mound. After 4-innings, the Yankees were still waiting for their first base runner and things would not get much better. After sitting down Mantle, the Dodger ace forced Maris to foul out, but allowed the "Pinstripes" to load the bases on consecutive singles by Elston Howard, Joe Pepitone and Clete Boyer. The threat quickly disappeared though as Hector Lopez (batting for Ford) became the 11th K victim. After striking out pinch-hitter Phil Lint in the 8th, Koufax had moved 1-K within Carl Erskine's single Series game strikeout record of 14. The record would have to wait though as a late-inning homer by Tresh stalled the impending celebration, but it was only a matter of time. The first 3 of New York's final 4 outs in Koufax's 5-2 triumph came on a grounder, a liner and a fly ball. The last out of the game was record-breaking strikeout No. 15, with pinch-hitter Harry Bright submitting the score.
Podres attempted to keep LA's momentum alive in Game 2 and combined with 2-out relief from Perranoski to beat the Yankees, 4-1. Willie Davis set the pace at the plate with a 2-run double in the 1st and was followed by Skowron's homer in the 4th. Adding to the Yankees frustration was the Series-ending injury to outfielder Roger Maris who was hurt running into a rail in pursuit of a Tommy Davis triple. With a 2-games-to-none lead, the Dodgers returned to their newly christened west coast palace known as Dodger Stadium. Don Drysdale made the homecoming even sweeter with a 3-hit, 1-0 victory that ended with 9 more strikeouts for the Yankees. Bouton had completed the outing while holding his own, but surrendered the critical game-winning run in the 1st on Jim Gilliam's walk, a wild pitch and a single by Tommy Davis, who had just captured his second straight NL batting championship.
In a classic rematch of the Series opener, Ford and Koufax went at it again as one pitcher tried to complete a sweep and the other attempted to keep his team alive. Both adversaries held each other scoreless until the 5th-inning when the Dodger's Frank Howard launched a rocket homer to left. Mantle evened the score with a blast of his own in the 7th after going a miserable 1 for 13 in Series at bats. Maury Wills, known primarily for his speed (104 steals in '62) regained the lead for the Dodgers in the bottom of the inning and from there on it was all LA. First, Gilliam led off the 8th with a high-bouncer that resulted in a critical Yankees infield error between Pepitone and Boyer who had missed to connect on the throw. Then, Willie Davis came in with a sacrifice fly to deep center field that scored his leadoff man. Finally, Koufax stayed in to finish the job and went on for the 6-hit, 8-K, 2-1 triumph that not only swept the Yankees, but also ended their latest consecutive Series winning streak at 2.
#29: 1964: St. Louis Cardinals (4) vs. New York Yankees (3)
After another devastating loss in the previous year's Classic, a different New York Yankees team returned to represent the American League in 1964. Yogi Berra had replaced Ralph Houk at the helm and under his guidance, the Yanks managed to barely win the AL pennant by a single game over the Chicago White Sox. It was the 15th World Series for the former Yankee catcher as Berra had first appeared in the contest in 1947 and went on play in a record 75 games before his last outing in 1963. Many of his former teammates had remained in New York as Mickey Mantle prepared to play in his 12th postseason exhibition, Whitey Ford entered his 11th and Bobby Richardson posted his 9th appearance. Roger Maris, who was only in his 5th season as a Yankee, had never missed the World Series since donning the blue pinstripes. Their opponents, the St. Louis Cardinals had just missed the previous year's contest by finishing 6-games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers (who had dethroned the once-mighty Yankees in a 4-game sweep) and were determined to follow suite. Much like their American League rivals though, the Cards had a lot of luck to thank for their latest post-season opportunity. First the Nationals lost their General Manager in mid-August, but managed to climb from 5th to 1st (with considerable help from the Philadelphia Phillies, who blew a 6 1/2-game league lead with 12 games to play).
Whitey Ford, always a postseason standout, held onto a 4-2 lead going into the 6th-inning of the opener, but St. Louis right fielder Mike Shannon hammered a long 2-run homer off the veteran lefty and when catcher Tim McCarver followed with a double, the 35-year-old Ford was through for the day, and (because of arm problems) the Series. The 9-5 loss of Game 1 as well as their #1 ace should have been a sign for what was to come as the Yanks were now experiencing a new kind of streak… a losing one. The opening fiasco was their 5th consecutive loss in World Series play and for the first time (in a long time) the Yankees were the underdogs.
In an attempt to jumpstart his team, Berra gave the Game 2 ball to an up-and-coming rookie named Mel Stottlemyre who went against Cardinal ace Bob Gibson. Stottlemyre had thrown strong down the home stretch (after getting called up from Richmond in August) and was a deciding factor for New York in the close AL pennant race. Both pitchers stood firm until Gibson left the game and his relief surrendered 4 9th-inning runs for an 8-3 loss that put the "Bombers" back in the race. Game 3 followed the same script as veteran Curt Simmons and the Yankees' Jim Bouton were locked in a 1-1 tie through 8 innings. Manager Johnny Keane used a pinch-hitter for Simmons in the 9th as the Cards threatened, but failed, to score. Barney Schultz, a clutch reliever for St. Louis, entered the game in the bottom of the 9th and threw 1 pitch, which Mantle promptly launched into the right-field stands for the 2-1 win. Ray Sadecki started Game 4 against the Yanks Al Downing, but was taken for 3 quick 1st-inning runs. Downing faired better and protected the lead going into the 5th, but the lefty was nailed by Ken Boyer for a grand-slam in the following inning. With relievers Roger Craig and Ron Taylor combining for 8 2/3 innings of 2-hit, scoreless relief, St. Louis went on to even the Series with a 4-3 victory.
Bob Gibson returned for Game 5 and was one out away from a 2-0 victory when the Yanks' Tom Tresh ripped a 2-run homer that tied it up. Gibson prevailed however, after Tim McCarver came up huge with a 3-run blast off of Yanks reliever Pete Mikkelsen for the 5-3 victory. Game 6 witnessed yet another nail-biter as the contest remained tied 1-1 going into the 6th. This time it was the Yankees coming up big with 2 consecutive homeruns by Mantle and Maris and a grand slam by Joe Pepitone off reliever Gordon Richardson in the 8th. When it was over, New York had won 8-3 while staying alive and forcing a final Game 7.
Stottlemyre and Gibson both returned for the climatic finale and held each other scoreless through 3-innings. Then the Cardinals broke loose for 3 runs in the 4th and 3 more in the 5th, touched off by a home run by Lou Brock. Brock (a mid-June acquisition from the Cubs) proved to be a brilliant investment during the regular season after stealing 33 bases and batting .348 in 103 games. Mantle responded with a 3-run homer in the 6th and Clete Boyer and Phil Linz both followed "The Mick's" lead in the 9th. Despite their efforts, Gibson stood tall and finished the complete-game with a 7-5 Cardinal triumph.
The Boyer brothers had both come up big for their respective teams and set a record as the first set of brothers to hit home runs in the same Series. Ken had contributed 2 for St. Louis and Clete added 1 for New York (with 1 for each coming in the same game). For the Cardinals, it was the end of a long postseason drought as they had not appeared in the Fall Classic since 1946. For the Yankees, it was the end of an era as the perennial champions were about to start a drought of their own. Within 2 years, the American League dynasty would fall from first to last and it would be several years before returning to their former glory (12 years). It was the last World Series appearance for many regulars including Mantle (who set the all-time Series HR record at 18), Ford, Richardson, Kubek and Boyer. Howard would appear in the Classic once more (with the Boston Red Sox) and Maris was destined to play in 2 more with the Cardinals. Both managers were also fired after the Series, but in a strange twist, it would be the unemployed Cardinals skipper Johnny Keane who resurfaced in a Yankees uniform as Yogi Berra's replacement.
#30: 1976: Cincinnati Reds (4) vs. New York Yankees (0)
1976 witnessed the return of baseball's most successful postseason-dynasty to the Fall Classic. After a 12 year hiatus, the New York Yankees had rebuilt themselves back into the American League champions of old. After the team was purchased by a cunning-businessman named George Steinbrenner (in 1972) they filled several gaps with some shrewd trading and finished in 3rd during the '75 season. This year, former "Bronx Bomber" Billy Martin was at the helm and his crew consisted of several standouts including Thurman Munson, Chris Chambliss, Graig Nettles, Sparky Lyle and Jim "Catfish" Hunter (who had made good on his threat to Oakland). It seemed fitting that the perennial champions were to face the defending champions as the Cincinnati Reds returned for their 2nd consecutive Classic. Manager Sparky Anderson may not have had a ship, but he did have "The Big Red Machine" and it ran on cylinders like Tony Perez at 1st, Joe Morgan at 2nd, Pete Rose at 3rd, Dave Concepcion at shortstop and George Foster, Cesar Geronimo and Ken Griffey on the grass. They also boasted one of the best pitching rotations in all of major-league baseball. Gary Nolan led the pitching staff with 15 victories, Pat Darcy won 14, and Fred Norman and Jack Billingham each won 12 games. Their bullpen was just as good with Don Gullett, Santo Alcala and Rawly Eastwick who each tallied 11 victories for a combined 33-12 record. The Reds had also remained one of the most consistent ball clubs in the league winning 108 games in '75, 98 in '74 and 99 in '73.
Cincinnati hosted the Series opener at Riverfront Stadium and showed their hometown fans who was in charge. Morgon launched a 1st-inning homer, Perez added 3-hits of his own and Gullett and reliever Pedro Borbon combined on a 5-hitter for the 5-1 victory. Game 2 looked much the same as Perez snuck a 2-out single in the 9th to score Griffey for the 4-3 win. Hunter had retired the Reds' first two batters, but New York shortstop Fred Stanley's throwing error on Griffey's roller put the NL champs back in business. The Yankees may have been back as well, but the dust and cobwebs were certainly showing. As the Series returned to the "not-so familiar" surroundings of Yankee Stadium (due to the 2-year long modernizing process that had sent the Yanks to Shea from '74-'76) the Reds continued to dominate the home team. Perhaps "The Babe" was displeased with his new décor as the "Big Red Machine" became the "Bronx Bombers" for a day. With the AL's designated-hitter rule being used in the Series for the first time, Dan Driessen cracked a homer and went 3-for-3 while helping the Reds to a 3rd, 6-2 victory. On the other side, shortstop Jim Mason managed the only homer for the Yankees (in his only career at-bat ever in a Series).
Now on the verge of elimination, New York was determined to extend the contest, but the visiting team had a different idea. After blasting them for 2 and 3-run homers, the defending champions cruised to another title with a 7-2 sweeping triumph. Yankees fans were devastated (after all, losing in the Bronx was unacceptable) but Steinbrenner wasn't done yet and they would have their dynasty back, eventually. Cincinnati became the first National League team to win back-to-back crowns since the New York Giants had in '21 and '22. 7 of their hitters batted above .300, led by Bench's .533 and Foster's .429. Amazingly, Anderson did not make a single change during the entire Series among his 9 regulars, forsaking the use of a pinch-hitter or a pinch-runner and never making a switch in either his batting order or fielding alignment. On the mound, his rotation boasted a combined 2.00 earned-run average and the franchise's 2-year totals consisted of 210 regular-season victories, a 6-0 record in Championship Series play, and 2 consecutive World Series triumphs. The mistaken fans at Yankees Stadium had witnessed the play of a dynasty, unfortunately though, they weren't wearing pinstripes.
#31: 1977: Los Angeles Dodgers (2) vs. New York Yankees (4)
After an embarrassing sweep by baseball's newest dynasty, the Cincinnati Reds, the AL champion New York Yankees returned to the Fall Classic determined to make amends for the previous year's disappointing finale. The bruised egos and mounting stress had taken its toll on the Yankees organization during the regular season as Billy Martin and Reggie Jackson erupted into a huge argument at Boston's Fenway Park for what the manager termed as "lack of hustle". The fight that followed in the dugout was caught on national-television cameras broadcasting the Saturday afternoon game and both men were blasted in the papers. Both managed to settle their differences, but the damage to their reputations had already been done. The LA Dodgers, guided by rookie Manager Tommy Lasorda, dethroned the defending champion Reds in the NL West and steamrolled over the Philadelphia Phillies in the Championship Series. Like the Yankees, Los Angeles featured a potent line-up that included Steve Garvey (33 homers), Reggie Smith (32), Ron Cey (30) and Dusty Baker (30) who set the record as the first ballclub to boast 4 players who hit 30+ homers in the same season.
As the West Coast and East Coast remained locked in a bitter 3-3 tie going into the 12th-inning of Game 1, Paul Blair checkmated the Dodgers with a clutch single that scored Willie Randolph for the opening victory. LA had revenge the following day after Cey, Smith and Steve Yeager all cracked early-inning homers off "Catfish" Hunter. Burt Hooton faired much better on the mound and tossed a 5-hitter that evened the Series with a 6-1 triumph. However, New York would jump ahead to a 3-game lead as the "Pinstripes" bested Tommy John for a 5-3 decision in the 3rd outing and lefthander Ron Guidry added a 4-2 win in the 4th.
Game 5 was certainly the most memorable in the '77 Series thanks a spectacular performance at the plate by Reggie Jackson. The Yankees newest "Bomber" was making his 18th appearance and it proved to be his greatest as he became only the 2nd player in history to smash 3 home runs in a single Series game (Babe Ruth '26 and '28). In addition, the 5 homers in one Series and 4 consecutive blasts over a 2 Series-game period was unprecedented. As Thurman Munson stood on 1st, Jackson nailed Hooton on his first pitch sending the Yanks ahead with a 4-3 lead. Later in the 5th with 2 outs and Willie Randolph on 1st, Reggie launched another rocket off of Elias Sosa that landed in the right-field seats. Finally, he electrified the home team crowd of 56,407 by leading off the 8th with the historic blast into the center-field bleachers. "Mr. October" indeed. Riding on the 5 RBIs of their slugging champion, the Yanks showed a glimpse of what was "Yankee baseball" and held on for the 8-4 victory that earned their 21st World Series title. It was the first crown for the "Bronx Bombers" since 1962.
Jackson's MVP performance against the Dodgers tallied a staggering .450 average with 5 home runs and 8 RBIs. His offense was the key to the Yankees win as their rotation (minus Torrez who finished 2-0, 2.50 ERA) lacked "the hustle" that Martin liked. Don Gullett and Hunter both went 0-1 and allowed a combined 14 earned-runs in 17 innings.
#32: 1978: Los Angeles Dodgers (2) vs. New York Yankees (4)
As the World Series celebrated its 75th Anniversary, two teams that shared many chapters in its story met for a classic rematch of East vs. West. The defending champion New York Yankees had struggled for several years on the way to recapturing their 21st crown while the Los Angeles Dodgers were still stinging from the previous year's defeat. Both teams boasted strong pitching staffs, top-notch sluggers and several All-Stars in their line-ups. Many experts had predicted a close, 7-game Series that would be decided in the closing minutes, but things did not appear that way in Game 1. LA's Davey Lopez drove in 5 runs on 2 homers and Dusty Baker added his own against 20-game winner Ed Figueroa and the entire New York bullpen. Tommy John got the first Series victory of his career after tossing shutout ball for 6-innings in the 11-5 opener. The only encouraging performance from the Yanks was the familiar play of "Mr. October" Reggie Jackson, who picked up right where he had left off in '77 with a homerun and 2 singles.
Little changed the following day as the Dodger Stadium crowd was treated to it's 2nd win in a row thanks to Ron Cey, who knocked in all of LA's runs with a single in the 4th and a 3-run homer in the 6th. Rookie pitcher Bob Welch saved the 4-3 game in the 9th after Jackson took the plate with 2 men on base. As the count went to 3-2, Reggie, who had fouled off 3 2-strike pitches swung mightily at Welch's fastball and missed. Now up 2-games-to-none, the National Leaguers were thinking sweep as the contest shifted to Yankee Stadium. Game 3 promised to be a pitchers duel as both team's brought out their "big guns". Don Sutton (a 15-game winner) started for the Dodgers against Ron Guidy (25-3, 1.74 ERA, 9 shutouts) and both aces struggled despite their spectacular stats. Guidry allowed 7 walks and 8-hits while Sutton surrendered 5 runs and 9-hits in 6 1/3 innings. Roy White started the Yankees rolling with a 1st-inning homer, but Graig Nettles was the star with outstanding play in the field. With 2 out and 1 on base in the 3rd, Nettles stopped the Dodgers by throwing out Reggie Smith after making a diving stop of his bullet down the 3rd-base line. In the 5th, with base runners on 1st and 2nd and 2 out, he snagged another line-drive by Smith over the bag and held the power hitter to an infield single. On the next play, with the bases loaded, he nabbed a hard grounder by Steve Garvey and forced Smith out at 2nd. Finally in the 6th, he finished them off with another brilliant stop on a 2-out, bases-loaded shot down the line while getting another force at 2nd. In the end, LA couldn't beat the infielder and his team walked away with a 5-1 triumph.
Game 4 featured another controversial call that was becoming the norm in modern baseball. Tommy John entered the 6th protecting a 3-0 lead (thanks to Smith's 5th-inning homer), but a series of events turned the tide of the game and inevitably the Series. After White led off with a single, Thurmon Munson walked and Jackson followed with a run-scoring base hit. Lou Piniella came up next and knocked a sinking liner toward Bill Russell. As the Dodgers shortstop went to play the ball it glanced off of his glove and fell to the ground. Munson, who had hesitated in case the ball had been caught, took off for 3rd, but Russell went to 2nd attempting to catch Jackson and complete a double-play at 1st. Sensing this, the Yankee stopped midway down the base path and, with Russell's throw in flight, turned toward first baseman Steve Garvey colliding with the ball. Munson scored the Yank's 2nd run, but the Dodgers argued (to no avail) that Jackson had intentionally interfered.
New York went on to tie it up in the 8th, after Blair rounded the bases on a single, sacrifice and double by his fellow teammates. After Goose Gossage (27 saves, 2.01 ERA) retired Los Angeles (in order) in the top of the 10th, the Yankees struck for the game-winning run in the last half of the inning after Piniella scored White for the 4-3 victory. Bob Lemon, who had replaced Billy Martin in July, started Jim Beattie in Game 5 and the rookie benefited from the "Bronx Bombers" at their finest. Bucky Dent, Mickey Rivers and Brian Doyle all collected 3-hits and Munson drove in 5 runs for an 18-hit, 12-2 romping that put the Yankees 1 game away from their 22nd championship.
Hunter was given the call for Game 6 and, with 2 innings of relief help from Gossage, the two emerged 7-2 winners and world champions. Dent and Doyle both repeated their 3-hit efforts with the shortstop's 3-run homer proving the deciding factor while Jackson topped it off with a 7th-inning homer off of Welch, who had fanned him in Game 2. In addition to their first back-to-back championships since '61-'62, the Yanks set another postseason record as the only title winner ever to trail before winning 6 straight.
#33: 1981: Los Angeles Dodgers (4) vs. New York Yankees (2)
One of the greatest post-season rivalries (dating back to 1941) was reset for the second Fall Classic of the 1980's. The New York Yankees had been in the hunt for more World Series Championships than any other team in professional baseball and the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers were their favorite prey. In the 10 Series meetings between the 2 clubs, New York had prevailed as champs on 8 occasions (6-1 against the Brooklyn Dodgers and 2-1 against the Los Angeles version). Both teams had last met in 1978 when the Yankees lost the first 2 outings then rebounded to beat the Nationals in 4 consecutive games for the crown. After a new 2-tiered playoff system was introduced (due to a players strike that interrupted the regular season) the Yankees had won a tight divisional-playoff over the Milwaukee Brewers (3-2) and went on to sweep the Oakland A's in the AL Championship Series.
As Game 1 started, New York showed the hometown crowd why they still were "The Greatest Show on Earth". Bob Watson opened it up with a 3-run homer in the 1st (off Jerry Reuss) and his teammates collected single runs in the 3rd and 4th innings, for a 5-1 lead going into the 8th. A confidant Yankees skipper Bob Lemon replaced starter Ron Guidry with Ron Davis, who unfortunately walked the only 2 batters he faced. Attempting to divert a comeback, Goose Gossage was brought in, but he also yielded a run-scoring single to pinch-hitter Jay Johnstone and a sacrifice fly to Dusty Baker. Despite the setback, he managed to get out of the inning thanks to 3rd baseman Graig Nettles who made a clutch, diving grab of a Steve Garvey line drive that appeared headed for the far left-field corner. After Ron Cey followed with a ground out, the nervous bullpen leader and his amazing infielder emerged as 5-3 winners.
Tommy John (a former Dodger who had crossed to sign with the Yanks after the '78 season) was given the start against his former mates in Game 2. Together with Gossage, he managed to hold LA to 4 meaningless hits on the road to a 3-0 victory. Shortstop Larry Milbourne garnered New York's only extra-base hit, (a 5th-inning double that drove in the first run) as the Yankees extended their Series winning streak against the Dodgers to 6 games.
Having played 10 postseason games before the World Series ever started (5 against the Houston Astros in the divisional playoffs and 5 more against the Montreal Expos in the Championship Series) Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda's team had come too far to give up now. Their postseason marathon was nearing the home stretch and they were falling behind fast. The skipper had been eagerly awaiting the chance to introduce their new rookie sensation Fernando Valenzuela to the Yankees and Game 3 provided the perfect opportunity. A good fit to face the "Bombers"; the lefty had pitched 5 shutouts in his first 7 games and wound up with 8 total in a 13-7 season. Despite his outstanding numbers, the inexperienced 20 year-old surrendered 9-hits (including homers to Watson and Rick Cerone) and 7 walks, but somehow managed to hold on for the 5-4 win on Cey's 3-run blast in the 1st, Pedro Guerrero's RBI double in the 5th and Mike Scioscia's run-producing double-play grounder that followed.
Bob Welch drew for the start for Game 4, but failed to retire a single batter as LA fell behind 6-3 early on. The Dodgers managed to tie it up in the 6th after Jay Johnstone hammered a 2-run pinch-homer and Davey Lopes (who reached 2nd on a rare Reggie Jackson error) stole 3rd and scored on a Bill Russell single. The comeback ignited a spark in LA's line-up and they continued to burn the Yankee rotation in the 7th on Steve Yeager's sacrifice fly and Lopes' run-scoring infield hit that put them ahead 8-6. "Mr. October" who was attempting to make amends for the costly fielding error in the 6th, erased the memory with a beautiful "tape-measure" homer to right-center in the 8th. Although it shortened the gap, it was all the Yanks could muster and the home team went on to tie the Series up with an 8-7 victory.
Guidry and Reuss returned to face each other again in Game 5 with Reuss coming out on top 2-1 after Guerrero and Yeager both slugged back-to-back homers in the 7th-inning. As the Series shifted back to the Bronx, both teams remained deadlocked in a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the 4th when Lemon elected to use a pinch-hitter in place of starting pitcher John. The decision proved devastating as New York failed to score in the inning and John was rendered ineligible for the rest of the contest. As reliever George Frazier came in to pick up the pieces, he was quickly taken for 3-runs in the 5th. Guerrero later added a 2-run single and a bases-empty homer while his 5 RBIs highlighted the Dodgers' Series-clinching 9-2 triumph. Losing pitcher Frazier had suffered his 3rd consecutive defeat, equaling the Series record established by Claude Williams of the 1919 Black Sox. Like the Yanks had done to them in '78, the Dodgers had come behind from a 2-0 deficit to defeat New York in 4 straight. Many Yankees fans blamed Lemon for sacrificing John so early in the game and as a result, the Series. The decision would prove costly on many fronts and his tenure with the "Pinstripes" would soon be at an end.
#34: 1996: Atlanta Braves (2) vs. New York Yankees (4)
The 1996 season witnessed what would be the 3rd installment of the New York Yankees dynasty. To date, the "Bombers" had dominated 3 separate decades on the way to 33 Fall Classics that ended in 22 world championship titles and the '96 line-up recalled the glory days of what had become "business as usual" in the Bronx. The Yankees had dominated the American League throughout the entire regular season on the arms of one of baseball's top pitching staffs that featured Andy Pettitte, David Cone and the game's best closer in Mariano Rivera. New York's newest skipper Joe Torre had also risen to a folk-hero-like status after returning the franchise to the Fall Classic after Buck Showalter had repeatedly fell short. Torre had grown up in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn and made his name as an All-Star catcher and infielder for both the Cardinals and Braves. His experience and demeanor made him a natural for managing, and he has been a good one, for the Mets, Braves and Cardinals. After being fired 3 times, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner offered him the job despite critical response from his colleagues. The daring decision would prove as one of New York's best as Torre would go on to become one of the most successful managers in all of baseball. The defending world champion Atlanta Braves also boasted an equally dangerous rotation with Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Steve Avery, Denny Neagle and John Smoltz (some of who had controlled the previous Series with a combined 2.67 ERA).
Game 1 recalled the '95 opener with an astonishing 10 separate pitchers making appearances on the mound with Smoltz and Pettitte starting. Fred McGriff mirrored his last debut as well with a homer and teammate Andruw Jones followed as the youngest player (19) in World Series history to hit a home run. One inning later, he became only the 2nd player in World Series history to hit a 2nd homer (in his first 2 at bats) and Atlanta and its newest sensation sent the Yanks packing with a 12-1 massacre. The opening loss was especially devastating to Pettitte who had battled through a major slump during the regular season that had earned him the nickname of "Sigh Young".
The Braves continued their momentum in Game 2 as Maddux and company held New York to 7 meaningless hits for a 4-0 win that put the NL champs up 2-games-to-none. Despite entering the contest as favorites, the injury plagued Yankees were falling fast and a sweep appeared on the horizon. David Cone set out to right the sinking ship for New York in the 3rd outing and combined with relievers Rivera (the 95-mph set-up man), Graeme Lloyd and John Wetteland to deal Glavine his first loss with a clutch, 5-2 decision. Game 4 topped the opener with 13 different arms taking the mound. Neither rotation performed well and both were battered for a combined 21 hits. Fred McGriff added to his ever-growing list of post-season homers, but John Wetteland managed to top both Avery and Brad Clontz in the 10th for the Series-tying 2-0 triumph. Now squared at 2-games apiece, the Braves had blown a 2-game advantage and were winless in 2 consecutive meetings. Things didn't get any better the following day as the Yankees dealt a bitter 1-0 loss to the home team (in the last ballgame ever to be played at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium) and Pettitte finally had his revenge after shutting out the Braves with a 5-hit effort over Smoltz.
As the Series finale returned to the "House that Ruth Built" Atlanta had gone from 2-up to 3-down and were on the brink of elimination. Maddux was manager Bobby Cox's obvious choice and matched 5 separate Yankee pitchers in an equal, 8-hit outing. Unfortunately 3 of the "Bombers" hits were for points and only 2 of the Braves managed to score. Game 7, although a New York clincher, was nothing more than an extended pitcher's duel that yielded no home runs and a combined 5 points. The performances on the mound (throughout the contest) and the repeated 1-run differentials reinforced the modern theory that pitching had finally overpowered hitting as the deciding factor in post-season baseball. Over the years, hitters had become bigger, stronger and faster, but the pitchers that faced them had also evolved into an elite athlete capable of throwing 90+mph fastballs and a variety of "specialty" pitches with the precision of a surgeon. The New York Yankees had assembled a roster that fit both categories and they would continue to dominate the Fall Classic 4 out the next 5 years.
#35: 1998: San Diego Padres (0) vs. New York Yankees (4)
In 1998, the perennial champion New York Yankees set a new standard for excellence in baseball outplaying the 1927 franchise considered by most expert analysts as the greatest team ever to play the game. With an all-star lineup known as "Murderer's Row", New York outscored its opponents by nearly 400 runs and hit .307 as a team in 1927. Babe Ruth, perhaps the greatest ever, set the original single season mark with 60 homeruns which was more than any other American League team had combined. The "Sultan of Swat" also had plenty of help from his fellow sluggers in pinstripes. Outfield counterparts, Earle Combs in center and Bob Meusel in left, hit .356 and .337 respectively. Lou Gehrig had his first big season, batting .373 with 47 homers and a league leading 175 RBIs. Second year man Tony Lazzeri ranked third in the loop with 18 homers. The pitching staff boasted four men who won 18 or more wins, led by Waite Hoyt at 22-7. Herb Pennock and Wilcy Moore gained 19 victories apiece while Urban Shocker added 18. This lethal trio complemented the dominant offense by claiming the league's 3 best ERAs. Moore, who pitched primarily in relief, led the way with a 2.28 mark. With a 110-44 record, the "Bronx Bombers" ran away with the American League pennant, winning by a staggering 19 games. If '27 was considered the best, then '98 certainly was the greatest. Manager Joe Torre's version had finished the season with 114 regular-season wins and 11 post-season victories (the most by any team in 123 years of major-league baseball). Their line-up card included names like Derek Jeter, Tino Martinez, Paul O'Neill, Bernie Williams and Scott Brosius. In the year of the "pinstriped homer", 8 Yankees hit 15 or more and 10 players hit at least 10 home runs for an amazing 207 total. New York's newest rotation was equally lethal and featured David Cone, Orlando Hernandez, Ramiro Mendoza, Andy Pettitte, Mike Stanton, David Wells and the game's top closer in Mariano Rivera.
Their opponents, the San Diego Padres, would certainly have their work cut out for them and although they didn't have any all-time records, they sure had their share of NL All-Stars including Andy Ashby, Kevin Brown, Trevor Hoffman, Greg Vaughn and fan favorite Tony Gwynn. After finishing 98-64, the Nationals took the division 3-1 over the Houston Astros, then defeated the Atlanta Braves (4 games to 2) in the NL championship. Manager Bruce Bochy's team had scored 749 runs (behind the Yankees 965) but only allowed 635 (under NY's 656) with a strong pitching staff led by Kevin Brown and Sterling Hitchcock.
Game 1 opened with a "touch of class" at Yankee Stadium with Tony Bennett singing the National Anthem and Sammy Sosa throwing out the first pitch. David Wells, better known as "The Boomer" took the hill for the home team against Kevin Brown and company. After New York tallied 2 runs in the 2nd-inning, San Diego answered back with 2 of their own in the 3rd. Down 7-1 (going into the 8th) Brown was replaced by Donne Wall - who was replaced by Mark Langston - who was replaced by Brian Boehringer - who was inevitably replaced by Randy Myers. However, no reliever in a Padres uniform could match up to Jeff Nelson or Rivera who closed the doors on the visitors with a 9-6 opening win. Both Chuck Knoblauch and Martinez dented the cheap seats and were matched by Gwynn and Vaughn (who both had 2). Game 2 belonged to the home team as "El Duque" Hernandez (with support from Stanton and Nelson) held on for a 9-3 triumph that featured home runs from both Williams and Jorge Posada.
Now down 2-games-to-none, the Padres hoped to fare better back at their own Qualcomm Stadium. Hitchcock (and 3 relievers) were given the unenviable task of turning the Series around, but failed to overcome the power trio of Cone, Mendoza and Rivera who maintained the 5-4 advantage. Brosius nailed 2 homers during the heartbreaker adding to his ever-growing stats that topped out at 8-hits, 2 homers and 6 RBIs. The 3rd baseman would go on to win the Series MVP award finishing with a whopping .471 batting average. On the brink of elimination, the NL champions had one last opportunity to prevent a sweep and extend their "Cinderella" season for another day. Brown and Pettitte went head-to-head for 5-innings, but the Padre pitcher stumbled in the 5th (for 1) and the 8th (for 2) before being pulled in favor of Dan Miceli and Myers. Although neither would surrender any additional runs, it was "too little - too late" as Nelson and Rivera (who finished with a 0.00 ERA) went on for the 3-0 clincher and their 24th world championship. It was the perfect ending to a perfect season and was summed up perfectly by the players: "Tell them, it wasn't easy. When they look back and see 125 wins, tell them we never took a single one for granted. Teach them about our passion and our patience. If they ask who was our star, give them 25 names. And if you forget our names, just tell them we were YANKEES. And in the season of our lives, we became a team. A team that made people believe that baseball could be magic, and men could be perfect."
#36: 1999: Atlanta Braves (0) vs. New York Yankees (4)
As baseball prepared to close its books on the 20th century, it seemed fitting that the team who had dominated most of it was returning for their 36th Fall Classic. Following 114 regular-season wins and 11 post season victories (the most by any team in 123 years of major-league baseball) as well as a 4-game sweep in the Series, the perennial champion New York Yankees were back and ready to cement their title as "Team of the Century". Manager Joe Torre was ready for another sweep as his Yankees won the AL Division Series over the Texas Rangers (3-0) and the Championship Series (4-1) over Boston Red Sox. The "Bronx Bombers" had scored a whopping 900 runs and answered their critics who felt that the record-setting '98 season had been a fluke. The Atlanta Braves had risen as a dominant force in the National League over the last decade and were returning for their 9th Series (winning titles in 3 different cities). Despite the heavy-hitters on both line-ups, many believed that this Classic would all come down to pitching as each rotation combined for 13 Cy Young Award winners including Roger Clemens, David Cone, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux.
The opener pitted New York's Orlando Hernandez against Atlanta's Greg Maddux. Both aces went-head-to-head (with the exception of "El Duque" surrendering 1 run in the 4th to Chipper Jones) for 8-innings, but the "Pinstripes" connected for 4 runs to beat the controversial John Rocker and closer Mike Remlinger 4-1. The games best closer, Mariano Rivera, entered in the last-inning and continued his astounding post-season winning streak. Game 2 wouldn't give the fans at Turner Field anything to cheer about either. David Cone and company clearly dominated the home team allowing only 5-hits and 2 runs that came in the final-inning. The Yankees managed 14-hits off Kevin Millwood and Terry Mulholland (who came in the 3rd) for the 7-2 victory that put them ahead 2-games-to-none.
The 3rd outing finally appeared to tip the scales in the Braves favor as they entered the 7th with a 5-3 advantage, but the never-say-die American's tied it up in the 8th (winning in the 10th) after 4 clutch homers by Chad Curtis (who had 2), Chuck Knoblauch and Tino Martinez. Now ahead by 3, the "Bombers" prepared to seal their 2nd consecutive sweep for the home crowd at Yankees Stadium who had missed the '98 finale that took place in San Diego's house. Game 4 highlighted the tradition of excellence that was part of the Yankee culture with pinstripe legend Whitey Ford throwing out the first pitch. "The Chairman" set the tone for the contest, as Yankee pitchers would rule the day. Roger Clemens was given the start for the homers against John Smoltz and "The Rocket" responded with an 8-inning masterpiece that yielded 5-hits and 1-run. Teammate Jim Leyritz ended the affair after sending a shot into the cheap seats for a 4-1 triumph and a 3rd title in 4 years.
#37: 2000: New York Mets (1) vs. New York Yankees (4)
After a 44-year absence (1956) the "Subway Series" finally returned to the "Big Apple" matching the ever-present New York Yankees against their cross-town rivals, the Mets. The American Leaguers had continued to dominate the post-season, winning 3 out of the last 4 titles, and the Nationals were determined to finally end their reign. While manager Joe Torre's Yankees were focused on becoming the first team in 26 years to win 3 titles in a row, Mets skipper Bobby Valentine was spending time at St. Patrick's Cathedral looking for some divine intervention.
Game 1 opened in the "House That Ruth Built" with Andy Pettitte taking on Al Leiter. The contest remained scoreless (with 2 outs in the 6th) when the first break of the Series occurred. With Timo Perez on first, Todd Zeile drilled a 0-and-2 pitch to deep-left but it ricocheted off the top of the fence and was fielded by David Justice - who relayed to Derek Jeter - who pegged home to retire the runner. The mistaken rookie had slowed down when rounding 2nd costing the home team a run. Despite the setback, the Yankees responded with Justice launching a 2-run double to the left-centerfield gap (in the bottom of the inning) for the go-ahead score. The Mets' Benny Agbayani and Jay Payton answered back with singles in the 7th and Todd Pratt walked. Then Bubba Trammell hit a clutch, 2-run pinch-single that tied it up at 3-all. 3-innings later, Jose Vizcaino's single to left against Turk Wendell with 2 outs in the 12th ended the longest game ever in the World Series (4 hours, 51 minutes). The 2nd meeting found the Mets still trying to catch up to their counterparts and they would come close - very close. Clemens started strong and threw 2-hit shutout ball for 8-innings, striking out 9 and walking none, but the Nationals threatened to comeback with a 5-run rally in the 9th. Ace closer Mariano Rivera shattered their hopes with his usual Grade-A performance (holding on for the 6-5 win) and sent the heartbroken Mets crawling back home.
In Game 3 the Mets went ahead quickly (on Robin Ventura's leadoff homer in the 2nd), but the visitors didn't stay behind for long. They tied it against Rick Reed in the 3rd as Derek Jeter hit a 2-out single followed by a Justice double to the right-field corner. Then they sprinted ahead in the 4th as Paul O'Neill tripled to right-center driving home Tino Martinez. The Mets surged ahead and tied it at 2 in the 6th on a Todd Zeile double. Rick Reed (6 innings, 6 hits, 2 runs, 8Ks) did his part to keep up with Orlando Hernandez who had always struggled at Shea Stadium. "El Duque" struck out 12 in 7 1/3 innings and was at the top of the game when he got out of a bases-loaded, none-out jam in the 6th without allowing another Mets run to score. However, the home team managed to add 2 more in the 8th and emerged with a clutch, 4-2 victory.
Both rotations earned their paychecks in Game 4 as a combined 9 pitchers went at it on the mound. The night had a promising start and finish for the Yankees, who set the pace with Derek Jeter's homer on the 1st pitch and ended it with 2 scoreless innings by Rivera. Scott Brosius made it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly that drove home Paul O'Neill in the 2nd and Jeter led off the 3rd with a triple to right-centerfield and came home on Luis Sojo's groundout. When the Mets Mike Piazza came up again (with 2 on and no outs in the 5th) Torre lifted the left-handed Denny Neagle in favor of the right-handed David Cone. The surprising move proved brilliant as the Yankees ace forced the All-Star catcher to pop-out. The AL champs bullpen continued to shine while holding the Mets quiet for 4 1/3 innings. The result was 3-2 decision that pushed the Nationals to within 9-innings of elimination.
Pettitte, Mike Stanton and Rivera ended the Mets' misery in Game 5 allowing a meager 2-hits that resulted in 2 runs. Bernie Williams and Jeter both hit homers as the Yanks netted their 3rd consecutive World Series and their 4th in the 5 years. A 2-out single in the 9th by Luis Sojo, was the deciding factor and led the Yankees to celebrate their 26th world championship. Only 3 times in major-league history has any club won as many in a row (the Yankees won 5 straight between 1949 and 1953 and 4 straight from 1936 to 1939; the Oakland Athletics won 3 in a row from 1972-74). And only 2 other clubs won as many championships in as short a period of time; the Yankees won 5 of 6 from 1936 to 1941 and 6 of 7 from 1947 to 1953.
#38: 2001: Arizona Diamondbacks (4) vs. New York Yankees (3)
Baseball in 2001 will always be remembered not for the games that took place during the regular season, but for the patriotism and heroic tributes that took place in the wake of the 9/11 terrorists attacks. It somehow seemed fitting that the city of New York, led by Mayor Rudy Giuliani, would show immeasurable strength and host the event after suffering such devastating loss a few months earlier. As usual, the Yankees remained on top of the American League as baseball's most storied franchise prepared to face one of its newest as the National League's Arizona Diamondbacks had just won their 1st pennant in their 4th year of existence. Many fans felt that this was the year to beat the perennial champions and as a banner hung at Arizona's Bank One Ballpark stated; Yankees = History - Diamondbacks = Future. The simple, yet bold statement was well written and foretold the future as the youngest expansion team in major-league history would come from behind during the 9th-inning to de-thrown the "kings of baseball".
Midway through Game 1 it was difficult to tell who were the 3-time defending champions and which was the franchise making it's Classic debut. Arizona ace Curt Schilling continued his remarkable postseason with 7 superb innings and Luis Gonzalez homered, drove in 2 runs and scored twice as the Diamondbacks stunned the Yanks, 9-1. Taking advantage of a rough start by New York's Mike Mussina and some sloppy defense, the Diamondbacks seized the opening advantage that resulted in titles nearly 60 percent of the time. Nothing changed the following day as Randy Johnson tossed a 3-hitter and Matt Williams added a 3-run homer in the 7th for 4-0 victory. "The Big Unit" was dominant from the start, allowing just a walk and a single over the first 7-innings. He struck out 11 and improved to 3-1 in the postseason. In his last 3 outings, he allowed just 2 runs and 13 hits in 25 innings.
New York finally bounced back in Game 3 as Roger Clemens and Mariano Rivera combined on a 3-hitter and Scott Brosius snapped a 6th-inning tie with an RBI single for the 2-1 triumph. Leading 2-games-to-none, Arizona had a chance to put a stranglehold on the series with a win. The Diamondbacks got a great outing from starter Brian Anderson but committed 3 crucial errors, 3 wild pitches and ran themselves out of the opening inning. Despite the win, the Yankees continued to struggle offensively. They got only 7 hits, including a home run by Jorge Posada in the 2nd, but the 1-2 combo of Clemens and Rivera prevented an Arizona attack that scored 13 runs in the first 2 games. Shutdown by the return of Schilling (on 3 days' rest), the defending champions were staring at the possibility of a 3-games-to-one deficit in Game 4. With 1 out, Paul O'Neill shot an opposite-field single in front of left fielder Luis Gonzalez and after Bernie Williams struck out, Tino Martinez hit the first pitch he saw from reliever Byung-Hyun Kim over the wall in right-center field. As the ball cleared the outfield barrier, the hometown crowd of 55,863 erupted as the invigorated Yankees spilled out of the dugout. The stadium that had fallen deadly silent after the Diamondbacks scored 2 runs (in the 8th) was deafening now and would not stop celebrating until Martinez came out on the deck for a curtain call. Rivera (1-0) cruised through the 10th and improved to 2-0 with 5 saves and a 0.71 ERA in 9 postseason appearances. Derek Jeter completed the cycle in what had evolved into one of the most memorable games of all time by lining a 3-2 pitch over the right-field wall for the game-winner.
Game 5 looked to go the distance as well with Mussina returning to save face against Miguel Batista. The veteran right-hander improved greatly and allowed only 5 hits (including a pair of solo homers in the 5th) while walking 3 and striking out 10. One of the 2 solo homers hit in the 5th came off the bat of little-used backup Rod Barajas (a .160 hitter in the regular season) who was in for starter Damian Miller (a late scratch with a strained calf). With the Diamondbacks holding a 2-0 lead, Arizona manager Bob Brenly returned to Kim to start the 9th. Jorge Posada opened the inning with a double but the Korean sidearmer easily retired the next 2 batters. With 1 out to go, things finally appeared to go in Kim's favor, but Scott Brosius begged to differ with a clutch, 2-run blast that tied the game at 2 apiece. Despite the setback, the repentive reliever managed to hold the Yankees scoreless for the first 2 extra-innings and appeared to be on the road to recovery. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be as Game 4's finale was replayed after Alfonso Soriano singled (with 1 out in the 12th) scoring Chuck Knoblauch with the 3-2, game-winning run. After sprinting to a 2-game lead, the NL champs were now forced into a do-or-die situation for Game 6. Once again, Johnson returned for Arizona to extend the race and responded with a brilliant 6-hitter that was sweetened with 7 strikeouts. At the plate, Johnson's teammates dominated as well, scoring 15 times over the first 4 innings for a shocking 15-2 massacre.
Game 7 looked to extend the Yankees consecutive-win streak, but the "never-say-die" Diamondbacks rose to the challenge and put together one of the greatest late-game comebacks in World Series history. After Kim had surrendered the trio of heartbreaking home runs in New York, the Diamondbacks returned home and rallied against the incomparable Rivera who had converted 23 straight postseason saves and had struck out the side in the 8th (with a 2-1 lead). As Luis Gonzalez stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the 9th, the Yankees infield moved in to prevent base-runner Jay Bell from scoring. The positional strategy proved disastrous as "Gonzo" connected for a shallow looping single (that just cleared the infield in center) sending home the winning run and sealing the World Series title. The Diamondbacks (many of them veterans getting their first taste of the World Series) exploded from the dugout as the "neighborhood bully" Yankees had finally fallen to the "new kids on the block".
#39: 2003: Florida Marlins (4) vs. New York Yankees (2)
The biggest story of the 2003 World Series may not have been the actual Fall Classic, but more so the dramatic pennant race that led up to the Series itself. After years of less-than-stellar ratings, record audiences finally tuned in to the Major League Baseball postseason, making it the most-watched playoffs ever on cable. Fans also flocked to the ballparks setting a new attendance mark with over 1,858,979 tickets sold. Many attributed this renewed interest to the playoff's storybook backdrop that featured two of baseball's most beloved underdogs, the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs. Both teams had surprised the experts by making the post season and each continued to shock their opponents by battling back in their respective leagues time and time again. After surviving the Divisional round, generations of long-suffering fans from both ball clubs reveled in the possibility that the curse of both "The Bambino" and "The Goat" was finally coming to an end. The baseball god's apparently had other plans and both teams fell just five heartbreaking outs short of making it to the Series.
Unlike the similarities shared between their tragic opponents, both league champions were as diametrically opposed as two teams meeting on the same diamond could be. On the American League side, the New York Yankees, recently nicknamed "The Evil Empire", surprised no one after posting the best record in baseball en route to their 39th Fall Classic. The National League champion Florida Marlins however, had managed to sneak undetected under everyone's "radar" after falling ten games under .500 on May 22. Amazingly, the moderately popular Florida franchise was making its second Fall Classic appearance in only it's tenth year of existence. After the emotionally exhausting playoffs, in which almost every game literally came down to the final pitch, many fans believed that the Series was a foregone conclusion and could not possibly live up to the drama of it's predecessors. Little did they know that another battle of "David vs. Goliath" was about to unfold and that neither team would ever be the same again…
In Game 1 the Yankees opened the Series in the same fashion that they had opened both the American League Divisional Series and AL Championship - with a loss. The 3-2 decision snapped the Yankees' ten-game-home winning streak (in the World Series), dating back to Game 2 of the 1996 Fall Classic. Despite the setback, the pinstripe faithful refused to panic, as the Bronx Bombers were 7-1, in which they had lost Game 1, under manager Joe Torre. Starting pitcher David Wells had surrendered a run in the first inning after Florida's Juan Pierre laid down a perfect bunt single that was followed by Luis Castillo's flare single to right, putting runners at the corners. Ivan Rodriguez lifted a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Pierre and giving him a playoff-best 17 RBIs. The Yankees tied the game in the third against Brad Penny after Derek Jeter came up clutch with a RBI single to center, scoring Karim Garcia from second and injecting some life into the crowd of 55,769 that was still suffering from an ALCS "hangover". Pierre later put the Marlins back on top in the fifth with a two-run single to left, giving Florida a 3-1 lead, but Bernie Williams answered back with a solo home run with one out in the sixth. It was the 18th post-season homer of his career and tied him with fellow Yankees Mickey Mantle and Reggie Jackson for the most round-trippers in Major League playoff history. Taking no chances, Florida pulled Penny in favor of closer Ugueth Urbina, who struck out Jorge Posada and Alfonso Soriano before inducing Nick Johnson to pop out to center, nailing down the win.
Game 2 evened the score as Andy Pettitte brought the Yankees back to life (for the third consecutive series) with a near-perfect 6-1 outing. Pitching on three days' rest, Pettitte allowed only one unearned run over 8 2/3 innings for his ninth consecutive win. Japanese import Hideki Matsui gave the pitcher all of the offensive support he would need, belting a three-run homer in the first inning. Alfonso Soriano, who had been struggling at the plate throughout the playoffs, added a two-run shot in the fourth that sealed the deal. Marlins right-handed prodigy Josh Beckett was given the start for Game 3 and the 23-year-old Texan worked through a lengthy rain delay and an imposing lineup, striking out 10 while giving up three hits and two runs. However, Yankees starter Mike Mussina proved better giving up a single run in seven innings. After 108 pitches through 7 1/3 innings, Beckett was pulled in favor of the left-handed Dontrelle Willis who struggled with his control due to the wet weather. Once again, Matsui came up big at the plate snapping a tie with a two-out RBI single in the eighth. From there, ALCS Game 7 hero Aaron Boone and Bernie Williams both added home runs in the ninth capping off another 6-1 decision over the Marlins.
The fourth game in the Series held a special significance as the fans in attendance witnessed the final appearance on the mound by one of baseball's greatest pitchers, Roger Clemens. The future Hall of Famer came on strong sitting down the first two Marlins in the opening frame. However, things quickly turned sour after Ivan Rodriguez's two-out single sparked an early Marlins rally. Following Rodriguez's lead, Miguel Cabrera, a 20-year-old rookie, drilled a 2-2 pitch the opposite way from the 41-year-old Clemens deep into the right-field seats, giving Florida a 2-0 lead. Jeff Conine and Mike Lowell followed with singles, putting runners at the corners. Derrek Lee then scored Conine putting the Yankees in a three-run hole after only one inning. Taking their turn, New York rallied around their struggling pitcher and responded by loading the bases with three singles to open the second. Aaron Boone kept their drive alive with a sac-fly to center that scored Bernie Williams cutting the lead to 3-1. Determined to "save face" for his 42-pitch first-inning debacle, "The Rocket" settled in needing just 54 pitches to get through the next five innings. Clemens returned for the seventh to face Luis Castillo as flashbulbs began to pop with each pitch. Falling behind on the count 1-2, Castillo battled the Yankee ace for five more pitches before looking at strike three on a fastball that tailed over the inside corner. The 65,934 in attendance gave Clemens a standing ovation as he walked off the field for the last time, honoring him for his 20 seasons of pitching supremacy. As the Marlins took the field to start the eighth, some of their classier players tilted their caps to the Yankees dugout. Clemens, who came back on to the field for a curtain call, returned the gesture by waving to the fans and to his opponents. Once again, Ugueth Urbina was summoned from Florida's bullpen but the Marlins reliever stumbled and surrendered 2 tying runs after Ruben Sierra lined a pitch down the right-field line for a triple, scoring both Williams and pinch-runner David Dellucci. Jose Contreras tossed two scoreless innings of relief for New York, while Florida's Chad Fox, after getting through the 10th, ran into trouble in the 11th. With runners in scoring position, and Juan Rivera sent in to pinch-hit for Contreras, Braden Looper took the mound. After intentionally walking Rivera, Looper proceeded to strike out Aaron Boone and force John Flaherty to pop out to third leaving all runners stranded on base. As the Yankees prepared to take the field, Torre made a call to his own bullpen that would prove both controversial and costly. The Yankees skipper elected to go with Jeff Weaver in the 11th, despite the fact that he had not appeared on the mound in 28 days. Weaver, who had been demoted as a starter to a relief role, held the Marlins at bay with a series of well placed fastballs. After Looper tossed a scoreless top of the 12th, Alex Gonzalez worked the count full to lead off the Marlins' half of the 12th. Swinging for the bleachers, the shortstop drilled the payoff pitch down the left-field line, barely clearing the 330-foot sign on the wall, nailing a 4-3 win and setting off a celebration both on the field and in the stands. In retrospect, many fans felt that Torre's gamble on Weaver had not only cost the Yankees Game 4, but in the end, the Series.
New York caught another bad break in Game 5 after losing starting pitcher David Wells to a "freak" back injury after just one inning. Florida went on to hit reliever Jose Contreras for four runs in three innings, after clearly taking control in the second. Things then went from bad to worse as the Yankees struggling bullpen allowed six runs from the second through the fifth. Marlins starter Brad Penny took care of the rest while holding the Bombers to only one earned run over seven innings. Once again Florida had defeated the mighty Yankees and moved within one win of a second World Series championship. Game 6 maintained the Marlins' momentum as Josh Beckett, starting on three days' rest for the first time in his young career, dominated the Yankees with a complete-game, five-hit shutout. His rival, Andy Pettitte, who had won 11 consecutive games following Yankees losses, gave New York a valiant effort, holding the Marlins to two runs (one earned) over seven innings. Pettitte sat down the first two Marlins in the fifth, but Alex Gonzalez and Juan Pierre put together consecutive singles to keep the inning going. Pettitte got ahead of Luis Castillo, 0-2, but the second baseman worked the count to 2-2 before lining a single to right field. Outfielder Karim Garcia fielded the hit and went for home, but his throw was slightly up the first-base line, allowing Gonzalez to score with a heads-up slide, avoiding the tag and touching the plate with his left hand. Beckett remained focused and sat the Yankees down in order in the sixth, striking out Bernie Williams (looking) and Hideki Matsui (swinging) to put the Marlins nine outs away from the championship. Jorge Posada led off the seventh with a double to left, but Beckett got Jason Giambi to ground out to third before striking out Garcia and pinch-hitter Ruben Sierra. As a testament to Florida's defensive play, New York remained 0-for-7 on the night with runners in scoring position. After Yankees closer Mariano Rivera came in to prevent any additional runs, Beckett returned to the mound to finish the job, forcing both Williams and Matsui to fly out to left. He then got Posada to squib an inside pitch down the first-base line, which he appropriately, fielded himself tagging the catcher for the final out.
The "routine play" almost seemed anti-climatic as one of baseball's most dramatic post-seasons abruptly came to an end. While Marlins players mobbed each other on the field in celebration, the stands of Yankee Stadium remained silent as fans were coming to grips with another World Championship lost. Much like the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks, Florida had managed to beat the odds AND the favored Yankees to become the best in baseball. Unlike the '97 franchise of free-agent "mercenaries", the '03 Marlins boasted a young team that looked to remain intact for future seasons. Things did not look as bright in the Big Apple however where a dynasty was about to see several changes - and a lot of pink slips.
(more to come)
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