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The story of the Yankees’ walk-off balk against the Red Sox in 1943

On May 5, 1943, the Yankees got a walk-off win thanks to a rather large gift.

Baltimore Orioles v Atlanta Braves Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

The Yankees started the 1943 season very well, winning eight of their first 11 games. On May 5th, they hosted the Red Sox in the second game of a four-game series. The previous day, the Yankees had won thanks to a walk-off sacrifice fly from Johnny Lindell. That would be the beginning of a trend in this series.

On May 5th, the Yankees struck first. With two outs in the first, Charlie Keller hit an inside-the-park home run, giving the Yankees an early 1-0 lead.

Hank Borowy got the start for the Yankees on the mound, and early on he didn’t run into too much trouble. He allowed hits in the second and third, but got out of both innings without allowing a run.

In the bottom of the third inning, the Yankees added two more runs. With the bases loaded, Nick Etten grounded into a force out at second, scoring a run. Billy Johnson then singled, bringing home another run.

The Red Sox got on the board in the top of the fourth. After a Bobby Doerr lead-off triple, Al Simmons brought him home with a sacrifice fly.

After allowing that run, Borowy got back on track. He allowed just one base runner total in innings five through eight. Even that runner was immediately erased by Borowy inducing a double play.

The Yankees hadn’t managed to pick up any insurance runs, and the score was still 3-1 heading into the top of the ninth. Borowy was sent back out to finish things off. He walked the lead-off hitter, and then allowed a single. After getting a fly out, he walked another hitter, loading the bases.

Joe McCarthy opted to take Borowy out of the game, and brought in Johnny Murphy. The first hitter Murphy faced was Pete Fox, who doubled. Two runs scored, and the Yankees’ lead was gone. After intentionally walking the next hitter, Murphy got an inning-ending double play.

The Yankees had been in control pretty much the whole time, but now were in a tie game in the ninth inning. In the bottom of the ninth, the Red Sox had pitcher Andy Karl working his second inning. Karl had allowed two singles in the bottom of the eighth, but had managed to strand both runners. In the ninth, he again put some runners on.

Roy Weatherly led off the ninth for the Yankees with a single. After Keller walked, Joe Gordon grounded into a force out at third. Etten then drew a walk, loading the bases with just one out. With Johnson at the plate, Karl balked. A run scored, and the Yankees won on a walk-off balk.

The Yankees ended up sweeping the four-game series against the Red Sox. They also won the finale via walk-off. That one came when a run scored after Boston reliever Mace Brown made an error on a sacrifice bunt attempt.

In total, the Yankees won ten game on walk-off plays in 1943. The one on May 5th was only partially their doing.