Those 27 teams are far from the only notable ones in franchise history, so as companion pieces, I’ve been looking at some of the teams that came brutally close to adding to that total. (Here is part one.) As we continue to go through the championship winners, here is a look at four more teams that nearly got there too.
The Yankees were going for a six-peat when they started the 1954 season, but it became clear early that it was going to be a difficult task, and not because they were a bad team. Through June, the Yankees were 45-27, which is a 101-win pace in a 162-game season. They were also already four games back in the AL pennant.
The Yankees got even better after that, winning over 70 percent of their games over the last three months of the season, and finishing with 103 wins. That was only good enough to finish eight games back of the AL-winning Cleveland team. Cleveland went on to get swept in the World Series, but that experienced Yankees’ team may have stood a better chance had they not run into a buzzsaw in the AL that year.
The next year, the Yankees did come out on top in the AL and advanced to the World Series. There, they faced their old enemy, the Dodgers.
Over the years, the Yankees had owned Brooklyn in the World Series, and it seemed like they would do the same in ‘55. They opened with two-straight wins at home to open the series, and then took an early lead in Game 4, looking to go up 3-1. The Dodgers rallied to win that game, and then took Game 5 to take the lead.
After winning the first two games at home, you would think the Yankees had a bit of an advantage in the last two games. That potential grew even more when they forced a Game 7 after a comfortable Game 6 win. However, Johnny Podres famously threw a complete game shutout in Game 7 to give the Dodgers their only World Series win in Brooklyn.
The 1955 World Series was the first time the Yankees lost a World Series in seven games, not counting when the series was best of nine in 1921. It didn’t take long for it to happen a second time, this time against the Milwaukee Braves.
Like they did in 1955, the Yankees fell behind 3-2 when the series shifted back to New York. Once again, they staved off elimination in Game 6, and then gave the ball to Don Larsen, who had thrown his World Series perfect game the season before, for the series decider.
Larsen’s opposing number in Game 7 was Lew Burdette, who was a former Yankee who the team had traded in 1951. Burdette got his revenge, and the Yankees got shutout in a do-or-die game for the second time in three years.
When you think of “close but no cigar” moments in Yankees’ history, 1960 is either the first or second year that you should bring up.
After taking the AL by eight games, the Yankees faced off against the Pirates in the World Series. The series went the distance, with Game 7 including five different lead changes. It ended in the bottom of the ninth with Bill Mazeroski hitting the first championship-winning walk-off home run in World Series history.
Despite losing, the Yankees were arguably the vastly better team in the series. They infamously outscored Pittsburgh 55-27 over the seven games. Their three wins came by 13, 10, and 12 runs respectively. It’s just that the Pirates won four games, by a grand total of seven runs.