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My Favorite Team Is the 1941 Yankees

Before the winds of war were upon us, I looked back at 1941 as the end of an era of peace and tranquility as what followed in the next few few years, baseball exited to the back stage with many of its players moving on to fight the evils of fascism. The 1941 Yankees were my favorite team as it was the year that I began to have more of an understanding of the nuts and bolts of baseball.

As the sportscaster, Mel Allen, called one of their players, Tommy Heinrich, "Old Reliable," the entire team was in that category of dependability; with Heinrich, they had DiMaggio and Keller who contributed to batting in a total of over three hundred runs. The team had reliable table setters, Dickey, Rizzuto, Rolfe, and if I had to pick the best right-handed hitting 2nd basemen in Yankee history, I would pick Joe Gordon in those years who was also a run producer. The only weakness in the starting team was at first with Johnny Strum as they were in the process of replacing Gehrig and he only lasted this one season with them.

The pitching had two HOF pitchers, Ruffing and Gomez, who were at a stage of their careers that they had to depend on their ability to outsmart the hitters with their years of experience. Russo, Donald and Chandler rounded out the pitching staff and also were in my estimation, junk pitches who were not known to challenge hitters; this was a team of pitchers who came together and performed when the chips were down. Ruffing was also an outstanding hitter who would sometimes be used as a pinch hitter, and the main reason that he was not an outfielder is that he lost four toes in a mining accident and it hampered his running ability so he turned to pitching.

During the war, the Yanks won the pennant in 1942 and the World Series in 1943 and then faded from the top till the war ended and the DiMaggio era continued into the Mantle era, but 1941 was to me, a year of intense competition and became aware of baseball as a team game where the Yanks had become as Ken Singleton says, "A team that can move the line."

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