RECORDS & AWARDS
July 13, 2012Richmond High School
BASEBALL’S ALL-TIME BEST
1951 NEW YORK YANKEES
By Troy Derengowski
We continue our look at baseball’s all-time best teams with a look at the 1951 World Champion New York Yankees as our #22 team. This was a transition season. Joe Dimaggio leaves the game and another era begins with Mickey Mantle. And for manager Casey Stengel, his third straight championship.
DiMaggio turned 36 and his numbers shoed his age and injuries. He played in only 116 games, hit 12 homeruns and batted only .263. 1951 was also his 13th season patrolling centerfield at Yankee Stadium. Mantle was only 19 but Yankee fans saw a glimpse of the future Hall of Famer. In only 96 games, Mantle hit 13 homeruns and drove in 65. Stengel said Mantle was faster than Ty Cobb when he saw him in spring training.
Despite the decline of DiMaggio and the emergence of Mantle, the Yankees relied heavily on catcher Yogi Berra, the AL MVP. Berra kept the pitching staff under control and also led the Yanks at the plate with 27 HR’s, 88 RBI and a .294 BA.
This was New York’s 14th World Series title. They beat second place Cleveland by 5 games and Boston by 11 games. In the World Series New York beat the New York Giants 4-2. The Giants were a story in itself coming from 13 and a half games to tie Brooklyn and force a playoff game at the Polo Grounds. Then the hero was Bobby Thomson who hit a HR to win the NL pennant.
“Super Chief” Allie Reynolds was the oldest starting pitcher in 1951 at 36. Reynolds went 17-8 with an ERA of 3.05. He threw 7 shutouts and even earned 7 saves. Eddie Lopat had another excellent season going 21-9 with an ERA of 2.91 and 5 shutouts. Vic Raschi also won 21 games with an ERA of only 3.28. The only other Yankee to pitch more than 100 innings was Tom Morgan who went 9-3 with an ERA of 3.67.
Stengel and Berra did a masterful job with the pitching staff. They managed 19 different pitchers and still led the AL with 24 shutouts, four coming during the pennant stretch in September. The Yankees were knocked out of first place a couple of times but took the lead for good on September 16th after beating Cleveland before 68,000 fans at Yankee Stadium. Other Yankees who made a contribution in 1951 were SS Phil Rizutto, Johnny Mize, Joe Collins, Gene Woodling and Hank Baurer. INF Gil McDougald was the AL rookie of the year.
Following the World Series, DiMaggio sat in front of his locker with a beer in his hand as the Yanks enjoyed their third straight championship. “I’ve played in my final game.”
FINAL RECORD 99-56
WORLD SERIES: BEAT THE NY GIANTS 4-2
MANAGER: CASEY STENGEL