1943: The Spud Show
It was wartime in '43 and the talent pool was depleted, but the Cardinals were mostly unaffected by the player loss. They proved a formidable opponent for the Yankees in '42, handing DiMaggio his only World Series loss in 10 attempts. Led by AL MVP pitcher Spud Chandler in '43 though, the Yankees were not going to go down meekly against the Cardinals again. Chandler beat the Cards in Game 1 with a 4-2 complete game, and after his team built a 3-1 series lead five days later, he shut out Stan Musial and company in a 2-0 Game 5 victory. His ERA in the series was a sterling 0.50, and the Yankees reached double digits in total championships.
1947: "Fireman" Joe to the resuce
Brooklyn and the Bucky Harris-led Yankees fought a tight seven-game series in '47, the only Fall Classic won by a non-Huggins/McCarthy/Stengel manager among the 18 titles from 1923-58. A four-hitter by Spec Shea at Ebbets Field in Game 5 pushed the Dodgers to the brink of elimination going back to Yankee Stadium, but Brooklyn fought back to outslug the Yankees, 8-6 in Game 6, forcing a decisive seventh game. One of the goats of that Yankee loss was normally reliable reliever Joe Page, who blew a 5-4 lead in the sixth via four hits in five at-bats, leading Brooklyn to a four-run rally. Now in Game 7, he sat out in the bullpen to start the game, hoping for redemption.
Shea volunteered to start on just one day of rest, and he unsurprisingly looked very shaky within the first several batters. He did not last two innings, after which time, the score was 2-0, Brooklyn. The Yankees rallied for a run in the second on two walks and an RBI single by Phil Rizzuto, then took the lead by knocking Dodgers starter Hal Gregg out of the game in the fourth--Bobby Brown doubled to tie the game, and Tommy Henrich brought the go-ahead run home with a single to right field. Page took the mound after this rally and proceeded to stimy the Dodgers, retiring 13 Brooklyn batters in a row until a one-out single by Eddie Miksis in the ninth. By then, the score was 5-2, and Page clinched the victory when Bruce Edwards bounced into a 6-4-3 double play. Page was the hero for his five nearly-perfect innings, and the Yankees were champions again.
1949: Ol' Reliable walks off Game 1
The Yankees and Dodgers met for a rematch two years after their '47 epic, but this time, it only took the Yankees five games to beat Brooklyn. The opener was one for the ages though, as Allie Reynolds and Don Newcombe dueled to a scoreless tie for eight innings. The two powerful teams combined for just seven hits. Reynolds threw a 1-2-3 ninth inning; on any normal day, that would have concluded a brilliant two-hit shutout, but the Yankees needed a run. They sent first baseman Tommy Henrich up to lead off the ninth against Newcombe. Broadcaster Mel Allen always liked to call Henrich "Ol' Reliable" for his propensity to deliver in timely situations. He did just that against Newcombe, slugging a solo homer to right field for a walk-off blast, the first in World Series history. Although the Yankees lost the next day, they swept the three games at Ebbets Field to capture the title, the first of seven in manager Casey Stengel's tenure.
1950: Coleman secures 3-0 series lead
The Yankees won their second straight pennant in '50 with a rookie named Eddie Ford pitching well down the stretch. They faced a very young Philadelphia Phillies team in the World Series, one where only a handful of players were over 23. Despite the age difference and the apparent mismatch given the four-game sweep, the Phillies were no pushovers. The Yankees barely won the opener 1-0 thanks to a two-hit shutout by Vic Raschi and the second game at Shibe Park 2-1 on a 10th inning solo homer by Joe DiMaggio against Hall of Fame starter Robin Roberts, a youngster who otherwise dazzled.
The third game featured arguably the biggest moment of the series when second baseman Jerry Coleman came to bat with two outs in the bottom of the ninth against Phillies reliever Russ Meyer. The Yankees had tied it up the previous inning on an error, and with two outs in the ninth, Gene Woodling and Rizzuto hit back-to-back singles to set the stage for Coleman, twice a war hero. He became a baseball hero as well by lining a single to left field to win the game, 3-2. The next day, the Yankees won behind Ford 5-2 to win their first consecutive titles since the late '30s.
1951: Bauer brings down the Giants
It was expected that '51 would be another Dodgers/Yankees World Series matchup, but the Giants came roaring down the stretch to tie the Dodgers in the NL standings, then won a three-game playoff on the "Shot Heard 'Round the World," Bobby Thomson's pennant-winning homer at the Polo Grounds. At first, it seemed that the Yankees would fall to the Miracle Giants as well since they lost two of the first three games in the series, a disappointing stretch that included rookie Mickey Mantle's horrifying knee injury in Game 2 that forever changed his career. However, the Yankees stormed back with power, emphasized by DiMaggio's final World Series homer in Game 4's 6-2 win and Rookie of the Year Gil McDougald's grand slam in a 13-1 Game 5 drubbing. The Yankees had a chance to close the series at Yankee Stadium out without needing a Game 7.
Reliable right fielder Hank Bauer came up in a 1-1 sixth inning tie with two outs and the bases loaded. Bauer was always a solid postseason performer and he later set a World Series record with a 17-game hitting streak. Facing Dave Koslo, Bauer shot one to deep left field, over Hall of Famer Monte Irvin's head. All three runners scored, and Bauer ended up on third base with a three-run triple. That was all she wrote for the Giants, and despite a ninth inning rally, reliever Bob Kuzava's last pitch ended up in Bauer's glove on a nice sliding catch. The Yankees secured their third consecutive World Series title.
1952: Billy saves the day
The status quo returned to normal after two off-years as the Yankees and Dodgers again met in the World Series. Brooklyn and New York traded victories during the first six games; at one point in Game 6, the Yankees were on the road and nine outs from losing the series. Yogi Berra came up big with a game-tying solo homer to lead off the seventh though, and two more runs that included a Mantle homer (his first of a record 18 in World Series play) helped the Yankees avoid elimination with a 3-2 victory.
In Game 7, the Yankees took a 3-2 lead in the top of the sixth when Mantle took Brooklyn starter Joe Black deep with one out. The Yankees added an insurance run in the seventh, but starter Raschi got into in the bottom half of the frame. A single and two walks loaded the bases with only one man out, so Stengel called on Kuzava to get out of the jam. Kuzava got the dangerous Duke Snider to pop up to third base, leaving it up to Jackie Robinson to save the rally. Unfortunately for Brooklyn, Jackie popped up as well, to the right side of the pitcher's mound. Suddenly, it looked like no one would catch it, but second baseman Billy Martin charged in and caught it at the last second. The game would have been tied if not for Martin's save. Two innings later, the Yankees won their fourth title in a row, tying the record set by the '36-'39 Yanks.
1953: Billy saves the day, Ep. II
For the second straight year, the Yankees and Dodgers met in the World Series, though it only went six games this time. The Yankees won the first two at Yankee Stadium, and the Dodgers countered by winning Games 3 and 4 at Ebbets Field. Four homers in the fifth game gave the Yankees a 3-2 series lead heading back to Yankee Stadium for Game 6. The star of the series thus far had undoubtedly been Martin, who saved the Yankees with his glove in '52 and now surprisingly excelled with his bat. He went 10-for-19 over the first five games with two triples and two homers, but the Martin show was far from over.
The Yankees jumped out to an early 3-0 lead on four hits, two walks, and an error. Ford allowed the Dodgers one run over seven innings before Reynolds relieved him in the eighth. He pitched through the inning and induced a fly ball from Gil Hodges to lead off the ninth. The Yankees were a mere two outs away from their fifth straight title when Reynolds walked Snider. That brought NL batting champ Carl Furillo to the plate, and he stunned the Yankee Stadium crowd with a game-tying two-run homer. The Yankees now needed a walk-off to clinch the series before Brooklyn rode the momentum of Furillo's homer to victory. They wasted no time against Clem Labine in the bottom of the ninth. Bauer walked to lead off the inning and with one out, Mantle beat out an infield single to push Bauer into scoring position. That brought up Martin, who singled up the middle for his then-series record 12th hit, the most important one of all. The Yankees set a record with their fifth straight championship, and Martin's 12 hits remains the record for a six-game series.
1956: Larsen's perfecto
No shocker here. Most Yankee fans already know the story behind Don Larsen's amazing perfect game in Game 5 of the '56 World Series. The Dodgers and Yankees were back at it, but this time, Brooklyn was the defending World Series champion, having finally beaten the Yankees in the '55 Fall Classic. The Yankees proceeded to get pushed around by Brooklyn in the first two games at Ebbets Field, dropping both by a combined score of 19-11. Larsen was knocked out of Game 2 in the second inning, and he didn't think that Stengel would pitch him again during the series. The Yankees bounced back to take the next two games though, and Stengel gave the ball to Larsen on just two days' rest in Game 5. It was a bold move to pitch a guy with Larsen's unimpressive resume with at most three games left in the season, but that was Stengel.
Larsen decided to abandon the windup and pitch from the stretch the entire game. He pitched everything called by catcher Berra. McDougald made a superb play on Robinson smash to third base that caromed off Andy Carey's glove toward him, and he just barely threw Jackie out. Mantle homered to give Larsen some runs and made an outstanding running catch on a long fly ball by Gil Hodges to left-center field to preserve the gem. Larsen reached two outs in the ninth and fanned pinch-hitter Dale Mitchell to end the perfect game, still the only one in the history of the playoffs. Given the circumstances, it's been called the greatest game ever pitched, and it's difficult to dispute that claim. The Dodgers won Game 6 to force a seventh game at Ebbets Field, but the Yankees won it in a blowout, 9-0. Larsen was voted the Yankees' first ever official World Series MVP.
1958: "Bullet" Bob completes 3-1 comeback
The Yankees' family took a tough loss this year when Bob Turley passed away at the end of March. Fifty-five years ago, he became a World Series hero against the Milwaukee Braves, who beat the Yankees in the '57 Fall Classic. A year later, they quickly put the Yankees' feet to the fire by winning three of the first four games. Only one team in the history of baseball had ever come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a World Series, and that had not been accomplished in 33 years.
In Game 5, the Yankees turned to Turley, their ace and the '58 Cy Young Award winner. The hard-throwing righthander was masterful, twirling a six-hit shutout as the Yankees pounded '57 nemesis Lew Burdette in a 7-0 win. Taking the fifth game was necessary to stave off elimination, but the Yankees had to win consecutive games on the road at Milwaukee's County Stadium to win the series. Game 6 took extra innings as Warren Spahn held the Yankees to two runs on six hits during the first nine. McDougald led off the tenth with a solo homer off Spahn and the Yankees added an insurance run reliever Ryne Duren who tried to complete his fifth inning of shutout ball. With two outs, the Braves rallied for a run, and they had the tying run at third and the series-winning run at first for Frank Torre. Taking no chances, Stengel called on Turley with just one day of rest to get the final out. He entered and got Torre to line out to second base, escaping the threat and forcing a Game 7.
For the final game, the Yankees started Larsen and held a 2-1 lead going into the bottom of the third. Larsen put two men on with one out and Stengel decided that he didn't want to risk the game with Larsen any longer. To the amazement of all, Turley came out of the bullpen again, this time with no rest, and he pitched the rest of the way, allowing just two hits and one run over 6 2/3 stellar frames. The Yankees completed their 3-1 series comeback, and it was almost entirely thanks to Turley. It's possible that the Yankees have never had another pitcher affect a World Series as dramatically as Turley did in 1958.
The three-part series concludes next time with a review of the most iconic of all nine World Series titles the Yankees have won in the past 52 years.