The 2013 baseball season has mercifully come to an end. Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte are gone from the team forever, Derek Jeter is a huge question mark for the rest of his career, the future looks bleak, and the Yankees' biggest rival just won the World Series.
Booooooo baseball. Booooo.
It's times like these when Yankees fans should do two things: 1) Get over it ASAP and think about how the team can best prepare for 2014 and beyond, and 2) Take a moment to appreciate all the amazing memories baseball has brought us over the years. Jason and Greg have articles scheduled today focused on the first point, so I will tackle the second the best way that I can--culling the MLB.com Video archives for the best moments (if available) of the Yankees' 27 World Series titles.
We are extremely fortunate to not be rooting for a team that hasn't won since the Teddy Roosevelt administration. Since the Yankees won their first championship in 1923, the longest we've gone without seeing the Yankees bring home the title was 18 years between 1978-96. The Blue Jays haven't even made the playoffs in 20 years; Royals fans have been without October baseball for 28 years. Consider this series (which will come in three parts so these posts aren't too long) a coping method and end with the hope that the Yankees can reach baseball's plateau once again sometime soon.
1923: Eighth inning rally for the title
For many of these older titles, there will not be individual moments available, but Yankees on Demand has fortunately done relatively short retrospectives on the championships. The Yankees' first title came in '23 against the crosstown rival New York Giants, who beat them in the series both years prior. Babe Ruth and company finally exacted vengeance against John McGraw's boys in '23, their first season at Yankee Stadium. The biggest thrill likely came in the decisive sixth game when the Yankees were five outs from being forced to a Game 7 and facing a 4-1 deficit. After back-to-back singles by Wally Schang and Everett Scott though, Giants starter Art Nehf got wild, walking both pinch-hitter Fred Hofmann and pitcher pinch-hitter Joe Bush to force a run home. McGraw relieved him with Rosy Ryan; however, Ryan made matters worse by walking another run in to make it a 4-3 game. He surprisingly struck the mighty Ruth out and was an out away from escaping with the lead, but a grounder up the middle by Bob Meusel went for a single, scoring two runs and a third on center fielder Casey Stengel's wild throw to third (yes, THAT Casey Stengel). The five-run rally gave the Yankees a 6-4 lead that they held to win their first World Series title after 20 years of mostly shoddy American League baseball in New York.
1927: A wild ending to a season for the ages
Murderers' Row. 110 wins. Sixty homers for the Babe. Forty-seven for Lou, plus 175 RBI. The top three ERA leaders in the AL all on the pitching staff. Six Hall of Famers. The '27 Yankees were arguably the greatest team to ever play the game, and many people know about those famous stats. They wrapped it up with a World Series romp over the Pittsburgh Pirates in a four-game sweep. The ending was unlike any in World Series history though, one that I recapped a month and a half ago when writing about the craziest endings in Yankees history:
Pirates manager Donie Bush asked Johnny Miljus to pitch his seventh scoreless inning of the series in relief to send the game to extra innings. Miljus did not bring any control to his final inning. He walked Hall of Fame center fielder Earle Combs to lead off the ninth, then allowed a bunt single to shortstop Mark Koenig, who hit an under-the-radar .500 in the series. Miljus faced Ruth and uncorked a wild pitch to move the winning run to third base. At that point, he just gave up and intentionally walked Ruth to get to Gehrig. The bases were loaded with no one out, and Miljus had to somehow get the greatest first baseman in baseball history to not bring home the run. Somehow, someway, he did it and struck Gehrig out. Next up was Bob Meusel, an intimidating offensive threat himself. Yet again, Miljus struck out the fearsome batter.
Stunningly, Miljus seemed prepared to pull a "Houdini" act and escape this inning, though he had to face Hall of Fame second baseman Tony Lazzeri. "Poosh 'em up" Tony had been the goat of the previous World Series for striking out against a hung over Grover Cleveland Alexander with the bases loaded, but he could now be the hero. However, Miljus didn't give him the chance, as he threw his second wild pitch of the inning, allowing Combs to come home with the winning run to clinch the Yankees' second World Series championship and end the '27 season on an anticlimactic note. It remains the only time in World Series history that the season ended on a Wild Pitch. Again, imagine that happening today. Oh, the fun with reaction GIFs we would have...
1928: Ruth slugs three in sweeping finale
The '28 Yanks are not as famous their '27 predecessors, but they still won the AL pennant with 101 victories. They faced the Cardinals in the World Series, seeking revenge for their seven-game loss in '26, when they blew a 3-2 series lead back in St. Louis and hungover Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland Alexander famously fanned Tony Lazzeri with the bases loaded. The '28 Yanks got their revenge and then some in a complete demolition of a fine St. Louis team. The Yanks outscored St. Louis 27-10 in the four-game sweep. Ruth and Gehrig combined to go an astounding 16-for-27 with four doubles, seven homers, seven walks, and a mind-boggling .593/.676/1.519 triple slash. Gehrig led with four homers, but per usual, Ruth stole the show by tying his own playoff record with three homers in the finale, with the last coming off Alexander. "Ol' Pete" was pounded to a 19.80 ERA in just five innings over two games. That's dominance.
1932: The "Called Shot"
Once upon a time, there was a man named Babe Ruth who did unspeakable things to baseballs. Whether or not he actually called his shot for his 15th and final World Series homer has been debated throughout history, but there's no denying that he might have hit the longest homer in the nigh-100-year history of Wrigley Field in Game 3 of the '32 Fall Classic. The Yankees set a series record with their 12th consecutive win in a another sweep, their last championship with Ruth.
1936: Tight Game 6 finale becomes a laugher
The Yankees returned to the World Series after a brief three-year absence. They were without Ruth, but they now had the talents of an overwhelmingly talented 21-year-old rookie from San Francisco named Joe DiMaggio. It was another Subway Series against the Giants, and both teams put up a display of offense in Game 6. The Yankees sought to close out the Fall Classic at the Polo Grounds and the Giants tried to force a decisive Game 7 after falling behind in the series 3-1. The Yankees held a slim 6-5 lead going into the top of the ninth after leading the Giants 5-2 earlier in the game. Dick Coffman entered the game for the Giants and was horrible, allowing three hits, a walk, and a fielder's choice. Harry Gumbert relieved and wasn't much better, as the middle of the Yankees' order bludgeoned him with small ball: walk-single-walk-RBI groundout-single-walk. By the time the dust had cleared, the Yankees had dropped seven on the Giants and now held a commanding 13-5 lead. "Fireman" Johnny Murphy finished off the Giants with a 1-2-3 ninth for the Yankees' fifth World Series title.
1937: The Giants get Goofed
The Yankees beat the Giants again in '37, this time in only five games. The star of the series was ace Lefty Gomez, probably the best pitcher in baseball that year. Had the World Series MVP been around, he likely would have won it, as he went the distance twice with a 1.50 combined ERA. The Giants only pushed three runs across home plate against "Goofy" in 18 innings. He won the opener 8-1 and finished off the series with a 4-2 win in Game 5. The Fall Classic fittingly ended with the ball in his glove as Jo-Jo Moore hit a ground ball to Gehrig at first, who flipped to Gomez to clinch a second consecutive title.
1938: Red's turn
If the '37 series was all about the Yankees' lefthanded ace, then the '38 Fall Classic was all about the Yankees' righthanded ace, Red Ruffing. The greatest righthanded pitcher in Yankees history, Ruffing originally arrived in New York from Boston in perhaps the second-worst trade in Red Sox history. Cedric Durst was awful, and Ruffing became a Hall of Famer in New York. The Yankees swept the Cubs again in '38, with Ruffing leading the way. He threw a complete game in the opener at Wrigley Field and won 3-1, then came back on three days' rest in Game 4 to close out the Cubbies with the Yankees holding a 3-0 series lead. Ruffing was also one of the most accomplished hitters of all pitchers in history and helped himself by breaking the scoreless tie with an RBI single in the second against non-Spaceman Bill Lee. The Yankees went on to score eight runs, and Ruffing threw a second complete game in an 8-3 victory. Babe Herman bounced back to Ruffing with two outs in the ninth, and Red threw to Gehrig at first to end it. The '36-'38 Yankees became the first team to three-peat.
1939: Lombardi's Snooze
The '39 team is underrated in the record books. They won 106 games even with their beloved captain, Gehrig, sidelined with an incurable disease, and they had a ridiculous +411 run differential. They finished 17 games ahead of the second-place Red Sox and swept the World Series for the second straight year, this time against the Cincinnati Reds. The most famous moment occurred in the tenth inning of Game 4 at Crosley Field with the score knotted at four. Reds ace Bucky Walters was in the game out of the bullpen for his third inning of relief, but he ran into trouble when he walked shortstop Frankie Crosetti to lead off the tenth and Red Rolfe bunted him to second base.
Shortstop Billy Myers booted a ball to allow Charlie Keller to reach base, bringing up the always-dangerous DiMaggio. With Keller running on the pitch, Joltin' Joe scorched a single to right field, scoring Crosetti to give the Yankees the lead, and Keller rounded third to try to score a second run. His knee collided with catcher Ernie Lombardi, jarring the ball loose and sending Lombardi into a likely-concussed daze. Seeing the ball on the ground, DiMaggio tried to score himself. Lombardi realized what was going on and tried to tag him out, but an excellent hook slide brought him home safely. The media called it "Lombardi's Snooze" and the Yankees clinched their fourth straight title when Wally Berger lined out to Crosetti in the bottom of the tenth to end it.
1941: A strikeout becomes a victory
The Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers met in the World Series for the first time in '41, and it quickly produced an amazing moment, recounted in the clip above. With Tommy Henrich at the plate, the Yankees were a strike away from having their 2-1 series lead evened; Brooklyn held a 4-3 lead in the ninth inning of Game 4. Hugh Casey through a pitch that quickly dove away, and Henrich swung over it for strike three. However, catcher Mickey Owen also missed it, allowing Henrich to reach base. The Yankees rallied to win, 7-4, and Tiny Bonham closed out the stunned Dodgers with a four-hitter in Game 5. The Yankees won their ninth World Series title.
Next time: the Yankees run roughshod over baseball with a record five titles in a row and Don Larsen achieves the unthinkable.