Saturday, July 31, 2010

PTWSW #58: The 1961 New York Yankees

Manager: Ralph Houk
Record: 109-53
Ballpark: Yankee Stadium
Owners: Dan Topping & Del Webb
GM: Roy Hamey
Coaches: Frankie Crosetti, Jim Hegan, Wally Moses, Johnny Sain, Earl Torgeson

Future Hall of Famers: Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle

All-Stars: Luis Arroyo, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Elston Howard, Tony Kubek, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Bill Skowron

Team Leaders, Batting

BA:
Mickey Mantle, .317
OBP: Mickey Mantle, .448
SLG: Mickey Mantle, .687 (AL leader)
OPS: Mickey Mantle, 1.135
2B: Tony Kubek, 38
3B: Tony Kubek, Mickey Mantle, 6
HR: Roger Maris, 61 (AL leader)
RBI: Roger Maris, 141 (AL leader)
BB: Mickey Mantle, 126 (AL leader)
SB: Mickey Mantle, 12

Team Leaders, Pitching

W:
Whitey Ford, 25 (AL leader)
SO: Whitey Ford, 209
ERA: Bill Stafford, 2.68
IP: Whitey Ford, 283 (AL leader)
CG: Whitey Ford, 11
SHO: Whitey Ford, Bill Stafford, 3
K/BB: Whitey Ford, 2.27
SV: Luis Arroyo, 29 (AL leader)

Tidbits

Oldest Player: Earl Torgeson (b. January 1, 1924)

Youngest Player: Al Downing (b. June 28, 1941)

First to Leave Us: Duke Maas (d. December 7, 1976)

Last Survivor: Half are still living as of September 30, 2015.

First in Majors: Yogi Berra (debut September 22, 1946)

Last in Majors: Al Downing (final game July 13, 1977)

First to Play For the Franchise: Yogi Berra (September 22, 1946)

Last to Play For the Franchise: Al Downing (September 30, 1969)

Pre-union Team: The 1958 Kansas City Athletics, with seven: Bob Cerv, Bud Daley, Joe DeMaestri, Hector Lopez, Duke Maas, Roger Maris and Ralph Terry.

Reunion Team: The 1962 Athletics (Art Ditmar, Deron Johnson and Danny McDevitt) and 1966 Athletics (Rollie Sheldon, Bill Stafford, Ralph Terry). Even though Topping & Webb's crony Arnold Johnson had died in 1960, the new Charles O. Finley ownership still had a thing for former Yankees.

Accomplishments

Roger Maris, AL MVP
Whitey Ford, Cy Young Award
Roger Maris, 61 home runs, new Major League record
Luis Arroyo, 29 saves, new Major League record
Bobby Richardson, AL Second Base Gold Glove
240 home runs, new Major League record

Season Summary

The Yankees fully expected to beat the Pirates in the 1960 World Series. After all, they were the Yankees, and winning World Series was their business. When the Pirates downed them in seven games the organization realized it was due for a change. Manager Casey Stengel was fired after 12 seasons on the job, and longtime GM George Weiss resigned. Replacing them were coach Ralph Houk and assistant GM Roy Hamey, respectively. Houk's managerial style differed from Stengel's in that he preferred a set lineup, batting order and pitching rotation, and the most notable result was ace pitcher Whitey Ford making a career-high 39 starts, accumulating 25 wins.

Before the season even began there were some rumblings that Babe Ruth's single-season home run record of 60 might be in danger. Thanks to the American League's first-ever expansion, the 1961 season featured two new teams, eight new games on the schedule and a weaker talent level. What conditions could be more conducive to mark-busting? The favorite to accomplish it was Mickey Mantle, and when he got off to a hot start the rumblings grew louder. After a slow start in April, Mantle's teammate Roger Maris caught up with him by June, turning their seasons into a full-blown battle to better the Babe. The "M & M Boys" were still neck-and-neck in early September when an injury slowed Mantle, leaving Maris on his own to chase Ruth. Maris was able to tie and surpass the record, hitting #61 on the final day of the season. Unfortunately, because he didn't break it before game #154, Maris' total carried an asterisk in the record books for the next 30 years.

With a 109-53 record one might assume that the Yankees completely dominated. In fact, they didn't reach first place for good until July 25, and they didn't begin to pull away until an early-September 13-game winning streak. Besides Mantle and Maris there were four other Yankees who reached the 20-homer mark, which allowed them to set a new Major League team record with 240 homers. They led the league in slugging average thanks to all the gopher balls, but they were only slightly above average in the other two slash stats. Still, their team OPS+ was best among AL offenses. With a great defense behind them and better-than-average strikeout and walk rates, the Yankee pitching staff posted an ERA+ of 109, third-best in the loop.

The World Series matched the Yanks up with the Cincinnati Reds, a team that had outperformed its Pythagorean record by ten games to win the pennant. The Yankees won Game 1 behind a shutout from Whitey Ford and two solo homers. The Reds then came right back to tie the Series in Game 2, gaining the lead when Elio Chacon made a heads-up dash for home on Elston Howard's passed ball. Yankee homers were once again the story in Game 3, as the pinstripers won with late-inning solo shots from Johnny Blanchard and Roger Maris. Ford and Jim Coates combined for another shutout in Game 4, and the Yankees closed their season out with a 13-5 laugher in Game 5.

Acknowledgements:

Baseball Reference
Baseball Almanac
Google News Archives

Saturday, July 24, 2010

PTWSW #57: The 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates

Manager: Danny Murtaugh
Record: 95-59
Ballpark: Forbes Field
Owners: John W. Galbreath, Tom Johnson & Bing Crosby
GM: Joe L. Brown
Coaches: Bill Burwell, Len Levy, Sam Narron, Frank Oceak, George Sisler, Virgil Trucks, Mickey Vernon

Future Hall of Famers: Roberto Clemente, Bill Mazeroski

All-Stars: Smoky Burgess, Roberto Clemente, Roy Face, Bob Friend, Dick Groat, Vern Law, Bill Mazeroski, Bob Skinner

Team Leaders, Batting

BA:
Dick Groat, .325 (NL leader)
OBP: Dick Groat, .371
SLG: Dick Stuart, .479
OPS: Roberto Clemente, .815
2B: Bob Skinner, 33
3B: Don Hoak, Bill Virdon, 9
HR: Dick Stuart, 23
RBI: Roberto Clemente, 94
BB: Don Hoak, 74
SB: Bob Skinner, 11

Team Leaders, Pitching

W:
Vern Law, 20
SO: Bob Friend, 183
ERA: Bob Friend, 3.00
IP: Bob Friend, 275.2
CG: Vern Law, 18 (NL leader)
SHO: Bob Friend, 4
K/BB: Bob Friend, 4.07 (NL leader)
SV: Roy Face, 24

Tidbits

Oldest Player: Mickey Vernon (b. April 22, 1918). Vernon was actually a coach who the team activated late in the season. If you don't want to count him it was Diomedes Olivo (b. January 22, 1919), a 41-year-old rookie who was called up in September and stayed with the team as a batting practice pitcher for the World Series. Among regular players it was Rocky Nelson (b. November 18, 1924).

Youngest Player: Bill Mazeroski (b. September 5, 1936)

First to Leave Us: Jim Umbricht (d. April 8, 1964). Umbricht was only 33 when he succumbed to cancer, and the Colt .45's (his team at the time) retired uniform number 32 in his honor.

Last Survivor: Fifteen are still living as of December 27, 2015.

First in Majors: Mickey Vernon (debut July 8, 1939)

Last in Majors: Bill Mazeroski was the last to play in a regular-season game (October 4, 1972), but Roberto Clemente's final game came in the Playoffs that same year on October 11.

First to Play For the Franchise: Vern Law (June 11, 1950)

Last to Play For the Franchise: Roberto Clemente (October 11, 1972)

Pre-union Team: The 1956 St. Louis Cardinals had five: Harvey Haddix, Vinegar Bend Mizell, Rocky Nelson, Dick Schofield and Bill Virdon.

Reunion Team: The 1961-62 Washington Senators (Harry Bright, Tom Cheney, Bennie Daniels, Fred Green (1962) and R C Stevens (1961)) and 1962 Houston Colt .45's (Roman Mejias, Hal Smith, Jim Umbricht and George Witt) had four each. Interestingly, the 1962 New York Mets also had a significant number, with three (Joe Christopher, Clem Labine and Vinegar Bend Mizell). It's a shame the 1961 Los Angeles Angels didn't get in on the act.

Accomplishments

Dick Groat, NL MVP
Vern Law, Cy Young Award
Harvey Haddix, NL Pitcher Gold Glove
Bill Mazeroski, NL Second Base Gold Glove
Dick Groat, six-hit game on May 13

Season Summary

1960 was the year Pittsburgh went crazy for the Pirates. After 33 years without a pennant, "Beat Em, Bucs" became a rallying cry around the Steel City, as the Pirates were never out of first place after May 28. The Buccos were a scrappy team of contact hitters who led the league in both batting and on-base average by eleven points. They were only sixth in home runs, but they still packed a punch, as they were tops in doubles and second in triples. You might think a team like this used speed as a weapon; in fact, the Pirates were last in both stolen bases and stolen base attempts. It may actually have helped them, given the poor success rates of the time. Their pitching staff mostly pitched to contact, and with the league's best defense behind them (38 TZ) Pirate hurlers posted the third-best ERA+ in the National League.

The player who best personified this crew was shortstop Dick Groat. He won the batting title with a .325 average while serving as team captain and playing great defense. In early September a Lew Burdette slider got away and fractured Groat's left wrist, sidelining him for the rest of the month. The Pirates had a seven-game lead at the time, but some observers wondered if the surprising Bucs' luck had finally run out. It hadn't. The Pirates never missed a beat with the hot-hitting Dick Schofield filling in for the final month, and Groat was able to return in time for the last two games of the regular season.

Game 1 of the World Series took place at Forbes Field, and the Pirates' opponent was the same as the last World Series game held there: the New York Yankees. Many experts picked the Yankees to win, but the Bucs had other plans. Behind 20-game winner Vern Law the Pirates took Game 1 by a score of 6-4. Before they knew it though, the Yankees had bounced back to win Games 2 and 3 in double-digit blowouts. Never to be discouraged, the Pirates won Game 4 behind Law again, and then Game 5 behind Harvey Haddix. They were now back home needing only one win to take the Series. The Yankees, however, administered yet another double-digit blowout to send it to Game 7.

Game 7 was one of baseball's greatest slugfests. With Law going again, the Pirates got out to an early 4-0 lead. The Yankee offense came to life in the fifth though, and by the middle of the eighth the Bombers were in control, 7-4. The Pirates then put together a huge five-run inning, the biggest blow being Hal Smith's go-ahead three-run homer. The Pirates were now up by two runs and three outs away from victory, but Pittsburgh pulses started racing again when the Yanks tied it in the top of the ninth. Leading off the bottom of the ninth was young Bill Mazeroski, an outstanding defensive second baseman who wasn't known for his hitting. The second pitch of the inning would make his bat famous though, as he hit a home run to deep left field which won the game and the Series for the Pirates.

The World Series MVP was given to Yankee second baseman Bobby Richardson for his 12 RBI in the seven games. That was small potatoes though, compared to the National League MVP trophy given to Dick Groat the next month.

Acknowledgements:

Baseball Reference
Baseball Almanac
Google News Archives

Thursday, July 22, 2010

PTWSW #56: The 1959 Los Angeles Dodgers

Manager: Walter Alston
Record: 88-68
Ballpark: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Owner: Walter O'Malley
GM: Buzzie Bavasi
Coaches: Joe Becker, Chuck Dressen, Greg Mulleavy, Pee Wee Reese

Future Hall of Famers: Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, Duke Snider

All-Stars: Don Drysdale, Jim Gilliam, Wally Moon, Charlie Neal

Team Leaders, Batting

BA:
Duke Snider, .308
OBP: Duke Snider, .400
SLG: Duke Snider, .535
OPS: Duke Snider, .935
2B: Charlie Neal, 30
3B: Wally Moon, Charlie Neal, 11 (NL leaders)
HR: Gil Hodges, 25
RBI: Duke Snider, 88
BB: Jim Gilliam, 96 (NL leader)
SB: Jim Gilliam, 23

Team Leaders, Pitching

W:
Don Drysdale, 17
SO: Don Drysdale, 242 (NL leader)
ERA: Don Drysdale, 3.46
IP: Don Drysdale, 270.2
CG: Don Drysdale, 15
SHO: Roger Craig, Don Drysdale, 4 (NL leaders)
K/BB: Don Drysdale, 2.60
SV: Clem Labine, 9

Tidbits

Oldest Player:
Carl Furillo (b. March 8, 1922)

Youngest Player: Tommy Davis (b. March 21, 1939)

First to Leave Us: Gil Hodges (d. April 2, 1972). Manager of the Mets at the time, Hodges suffered a heart attack during spring training while returning to his hotel after a game of golf.

Last Survivor: Almost half are still living as of July 10, 2013.

First in Majors: Gil Hodges (debut October 3, 1943)

Last in Majors: Ron Fairly (final game September 23, 1978)

First to Play For the Franchise: Gil Hodges (October 3, 1943)

Last to Play For the Franchise: Maury Wills (October 4, 1972)

Pre-union Team: No team had more than two of these guys, as the deep Dodger farm system provided most of the ammo.

Reunion Team: The 1962 New York Mets with six: Roger Craig, Gil Hodges, Clem Labine, Charlie Neal, Joe Pignatano and Don Zimmer. The Mets' front office thought collecting former Dodgers would appeal to the fans in New York nostalgic for the old Brooklyn Bums. The 1963 Mets also had five, with Norm Sherry and Duke Snider replacing Labine, Pignatano and Zimmer.

Other: Memorial Coliseum was host to the second All-Star Game in 1959, marking the second time the All-Star host became the World Series champion.

Accomplishments

Gil Hodges, NL First Base Gold Glove
Charlie Neal, NL Second Base Gold Glove

Season Summary

1958 was the Dodgers' first season in Los Angeles, and it didn't draw many comparisons to their Brooklyn glory days. They finished in seventh place with a roster full of washed-up veterans and undeveloped youngsters, and star center fielder Duke Snider was hampered by a knee injury all year. Going into 1959 it was questionable whether they had enough to contend.

The team's biggest offseason move was acquiring outfielder Wally Moon from the Cardinals. Moon was a .300 hitter who could also take a walk, and his presence in the lineup helped the Dodgers boost their on-base percentage from league-worst in 1958 to second-best in 1959. The Dodgers led the league in base on balls, out-walking the competition by almost a hundred free passes, and it was only their low team batting average that kept them from leading the NL in OBP. They weren't much of a slugging group, as they were only fifth in homers and tied for last in doubles, but they compensated with speed, finishing first in stolen bases and second in triples. Their pitching staff was where they kept the power: their hurlers struck out 1,077 batters, 204 more than the second-best Giants. The only problem was control, as they also led the league in walks and hit batsmen. Still, the positives outweighed the negatives, as their 112 ERA+ was league-best.

The Milwaukee Braves, winners of the last two pennants, were favored by most experts going into the season; it ended up being a pretty tight race between the Braves, Giants and Dodgers. The Braves held the lead most of the way through July, at which point the Giants took over until September. The Dodgers briefly grabbed the lead a few times, but usually they stayed a game or two or three behind the leader. The Giants played five straight games against their two challengers from September 16-20 which were the beginning of the end for them: they went 1-4, then lost four of their remaining five after that. Meanwhile, the Dodgers and Braves kept winning and finished the season tied, necessitating a best-of-three playoff series. The Dodgers won the first game, then staged a dramatic thriller in the second. The Braves led 5-2 going into the bottom of the ninth, but L.A. rallied for three runs, tying it on a sacrifice fly by Carl Furillo, the oldest man on the roster. The game remained deadlocked until the 12th inning, when the Dodgers got two runners on base with two out. Once again it was Furillo who came through. The Reading Rifle hit an infield single that drew an errant throw from shortstop Felix Mantilla, allowing Gil Hodges to score the pennant-winning run.

For the first time in history the World Series would feature a team from the west coast. The AL representative would be the Chicago White Sox, a franchise that had suffered through 40 years of pennant-free ball after the infamous "Black Sox Scandal." Game 1 was a White Sox blowout, but the Dodgers evened the Series in Game 2 with a 4-3 victory. Furillo was a hero yet again in Game 3, giving the Dodgers all the runs they needed with a two-run single in the seventh. Fellow veteran Gil Hodges followed suit in Game 4, breaking a 4-4 tie with a home run in the eighth to give the Dodgers a 3-1 Series lead. The White Sox stayed alive with a 1-0 victory in Game 5, but the Dodgers routed them 9-3 in Game 6 to claim the title. Just two years after the arrival of Major League Baseball, the state of California had itself a World Series champion. Reliever Larry Sherry was named Series MVP for pitching 12 2/3 innings and allowing only one run.

Acknowledgements:

Baseball Reference
Baseball Almanac
Google News Archives

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

PTWSW #55: The 1958 New York Yankees

Manager: Casey Stengel
Record: 92-62
Ballpark: Yankee Stadium
Owner: Dan Topping & Del Webb
GM: George Weiss
Coaches: Frankie Crosetti, Ralph Houk, Jim Turner

Future Hall of Famers: Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle, Enos Slaughter

All-Stars: Yogi Berra, Ryne Duren, Whitey Ford, Elston Howard, Tony Kubek, Mickey Mantle, Gil McDougald, Bill Skowron, Bob Turley

Team Leaders, Batting

BA:
Mickey Mantle, .304
OBP: Mickey Mantle, .443
SLG: Mickey Mantle, .592
OPS: Mickey Mantle, 1.035
2B: Hank Bauer, Bill Skowron, 22
3B: Hank Bauer, 6
HR: Mickey Mantle, 42 (AL leader)
RBI: Mickey Mantle, 97
BB: Mickey Mantle, 129 (AL leader)
SB: Mickey Mantle, 18

Team Leaders, Pitching

W:
Bob Turley, 21 (AL leader)
SO: Bob Turley, 168
ERA: Whitey Ford, 2.01 (AL leader)
IP: Bob Turley, 245.1
CG: Bob Turley, 19 (AL leader)
SHO: Whitey Ford, 7 (AL leader)
K/BB: Whitey Ford, 2.34
SV: Ryne Duren, 20 (AL leader)

Tidbits

Oldest Player: Enos Slaughter (b. April 27, 1916)

Youngest Player: Tony Kubek (b. October 12, 1935)

First to Leave Us: Fritz Brickell (d. October 15, 1965). Brickell, a youngster who had a brief callup in April, died of cancer at the age of 30.

Last Survivor: Nine are still living as of November 2, 2015.

First in Majors: Enos Slaughter (debut April 19, 1938)

Last in Majors: Elston Howard (final game September 29, 1968)

First to Play For the Franchise: Yogi Berra (September 22, 1946)

Last to Play For the Franchise: Mickey Mantle (September 28, 1968)

Pre-union Team: The 1955-56 Kansas City Athletics had four: Art Ditmar, Bobby Shantz, Harry Simpson and Enos Slaughter.

Reunion Team: The 1961 Kansas City Athletics had eight: Hank Bauer, Andy Carey, Bobby Del Greco, Art Ditmar, Don Larsen, Jerry Lumpe, Norm Siebern and Marv Throneberry. As you may well know, the Yankees and A's were frequent trade partners in those days.

Accomplishments

Bob Turley, Cy Young Award
Bobby Shantz, AL Pitcher Gold Glove
Norm Siebern, AL Left Field Gold Glove

Season Summary

For the fourth straight season, and the ninth time in ten years, the Yankees won the American League pennant. Their season ended up being a cakewalk, as they got off to a hot start and held a double-digit lead from July onward. On August 2 in fact, the Yankees had a 17-game lead and were the only AL team with a winning record! They employed the usual formula: lots of homers, high batting average, power pitching and strong defense. There were some concerns with their pitching staff at the end of the season though. Their best hurlers began to struggle in the last two months, causing the team to finish with only a 92-62 record. It was still 10 games better than the rest of the weak AL, but they hardly looked like the all-time great team they resembled in the first four months.

The 1958 World Series offered the Bombers a chance at redemption, as they'd lost the big one to their opponent, the Milwaukee Braves, the previous season. Between their late-season struggles and a Braves team that knew it could beat them, it was no sure thing that the Yankees would pull it off. When the Braves jumped out to a 3-1 Series lead a repeat appeared imminent. It was Bob Turley, the Yanks' Cy Young winner, who kept the Braves' champagne on ice; in Game 5 he tossed a five-hit, ten-K shutout. Back in Milwaukee, the Yanks would take Game 6 in extra innings to send the Series to the maximum (for the fourth straight season). When Yankee starter Don Larsen got into a jam in the third inning of Game 7, Bob Turley once again came to the rescue. He pitched the final 6 2/3 innings and allowed only one run. The Yankees took the final lead with a four-run eighth inning against Lew Burdette, the Brave starter who'd beaten them three times in 1957. For his gutsy efforts, Turley was named World Series MVP.

Acknowledgements:

Baseball Reference
Baseball Almanac
Google News Archives
Forgotten upset: 1958 World Series by Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times