One of the benefits of being a Yankees fan is the overflowing memory bank of magical moments to fondly look back upon. The Yanks may have missed out on the postseason in 2016, but a lifetime of playoff magic makes the pain much easier to bear than other franchises suffering an autumn without baseball.
Fifty three years ago, the Yankees were celebrating their 16th championship after winning the 1953 World Series in six games against the Brooklyn Dodgers. It was their unprecedented fifth straight World Series victory, eclipsing their own previous record of four straight from 1936-39.
Oddly enough, the Yankees were widely considered the underdog coming into that 1953 World Series. The Dodgers had revenge on their minds after losing to the Yanks in seven games the previous year, and led the league in wins, runs, and home runs. However, the Yankees came into the 1953 Fall Classic with a rock solid pitching staff led by Whitey Ford, who was returning from military duty. Something would have to give, and it wouldn’t be Billy Martin.
The fiery Yankees infielder lost his mind during the World Series, hitting .500 for the series, including two home runs, eight RBI, and two triples. His most important contribution would come in the bottom of the ninth of game six with the Yankees looking to clinch, and would do so thanks to Martin’s game winning single.
Martin had been a thorn in the Dodgers’ side since the previous World Series, when he made a clutch sprinting catch in the infield to squander a Dodgers rally during game seven.
Forget the absence of the Division Series and LCS for a second. Five championships in a row is still an unbelievable accomplishment, and a record that is in almost no danger of ever being matched.
The Yankees teams of this time didn’t have the added postseason series that today’s teams have to endure, but they still had to finish number one in the league to make the World Series. There were no divisions, just an entire league competing for one coveted spot. The most recent tease of such dominance would have to be the Yankees of the late nineties, who won three straight titles, and four in five years.
With the addition of the extra Wild Card team and the high volume of roster changes each year, it is safe to say that a run like those Yankees of the late nineties will never happen again either, which makes the reign of the Yankees 63 years ago to be just about untouchable. What makes that run even more impressive is the fact that it seemed to be two dynasties meshed into one.
The 1949 season saw Joe DiMaggio as the face of the franchise, with great contributors like Jerry Coleman and Tommy Henrich. By 1953, Mickey Mantle replaced DiMaggio as the next Yankees star, and then there was Martin. The lineups for the two teams were strikingly different, yet the franchise managed to maintain their place at the top.
Three of the five straight titles came against the in-state rival Dodgers, as well as a victory over the New York Giants in the 1951 World Series. The only title they won outside the state of New York was in 1950, when the Yanks took down the Phillies.
Five World Series victories in a row is unheard of, even for the most successful franchise in sports history. It is safe to say it will never happen again. Whoever wins the title this year, picture them winning it again next year. And then again the year after, and then three more times after that. It’s not going to happen.