Sunday, October 7, 2012

1952 World Series: The wind-blown popup

The Teams
American League: New York Yankees (95-59) - 19th World Series (Won 14 previous times)
National League: Brooklyn Dodgers (96-57) - Sixth World Series

What Happened

The Dodgers entered the 1952 World Series battered and beaten, having lost the pennant on the final day of the season each of the previous two seasons. They finally avoided the late-season drama in 1952 and accepted the National League's annual invitation to play the Yankees in the World Series. The Yankees were there for the fourth straight year - or fifth time in six years, or 12th time in 16 years, or whatever crazy metric you want to use. The fact is that they were back and, for the fourth time, were playing the Dodgers.

The biggest story of the beginning of the series was Joe Black, the Dodgers' ace reliever who started Game 1 despite only starting two games all season. Black was brilliant, though, throwing a complete game to beat the Yankees. He was also brilliant in Game 4, but wasn't as good as Allie Reynolds, who shut out the Dodgers. The games on either side of Game 4 were among the best of the series - the Dodgers won Game 3 after Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson both scored on the same wild pitch in the ninth inning, and they won Game 5 on an 11th-inning double by Duke Snider.  

Snider's double gave the Dodgers a 3-2 series lead heading back to Ebbets Field, but late home runs by Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle erased that deficit. The only problem the Yankees had with Game 6 was that they had to use Reynolds in relief to finish off the win. But the Dodgers were pressing their luck by starting Black yet again, his third start in the series after spending the season as a reliever.

And despite pitching valiantly, Black seemed to tire in Game 7. After three scoreless innings, the Yankees got one run in each of the next four, while holding the Dodgers to just two - despite committing four errors. It was 4-2 in the seventh inning when the Dodgers loaded the bases with one out and Snider and Robinson due up. Snider didn't get the job done, popping out to third, so it came down to Robinson. And like his teammate, Robinson popped up.

Sometimes, the biggest play in a postseason series isn't a run-scoring hit or a clutch strikeout. Sometimes, it's something as simple as a popup, something that gets marked in the score book as simply "F-4." Normally, Robinson's popup would have been routine, a big out but more a sigh of relief than anything. But it went up, and it stayed up, and it started drifting. One runner crossed the plate, and the ball stayed in the air, drifting in the wind. Another runner crossed the plate, the potential tying run, and it still hadn't come down. Billy Martin, the second baseman, was tracking it, following it, hoping. He followed it all the way over to first, in front of the bag, before reaching down and catching it a foot off the ground. F-4.

The Dodgers had come so close to getting the big break they had always wanted in a World Series. Instead, they got more heartbreak. They went down meekly over the final two innings, and the Yankees celebrated their fourth straight championship.

Reynolds couldn't start Game 7, but he could come in as a reliever, and he threw three innings, getting the win. That was on top of his Game 4 win, and his Game 1 start, and his Game 6 save. Mickey Mantle was great in the series, hitting the ball all over the field, but Reynolds was the reason the Yankees won.

(Home team shaded; winners in Bold)

New York27 32534
Brooklyn 41506 (11)2 2

The List
I'm ranking all the World Series, from worst to best. Here are the ones I've done so far:

16. 1952 - New York (A) def. Brooklyn (N) 4-3
17. 1997 - Florida (N) def. Cleveland (A) 4-3
18. 1993 - Toronto (A) def. Philadelphia (N) 4-2
19. 1956 - New York (A) def. Brooklyn (N) 4-3
Numbers 20-29
Numbers 30-39
Numbers 40-49
Numbers 50-59
Numbers 60-69
Numbers 70-79
Numbers 80-89
Numbers 90-99
Numbers 100-107

Game 7s
Simultaneously, I'll rank all the Game 7s. The ones that have appeared in my countdown so far:

5. 1997: Florida 3, Cleveland 2
7. 1946: St. Louis (N) 4, Boston (A) 3
9. 1925: Pittsburgh 9, Washington 7
12. 1979: Pittsburgh 4, Baltimore 1
13. 1955: Brooklyn 2, New York (A) 0
14. 1952: New York (A) 4, Brooklyn 2
15. 1971: Pittsburgh 2, Baltimore 1
16. 1940: Cincinnati 2, Detroit 1
18. 1987: Minnesota 4, St. Louis 2
19. 1958: New York 6, Milwaukee 2
21. 1968: Detroit 4, St. Louis 1
22. 1931: St. Louis (N) 4, Philadelphia (A) 2
23. 1973: Oakland 5, New York (N) 2
24. 2002: Anaheim 4, San Francisco 1
26. 1982: St. Louis 6, Milwaukee 3
28. 1965: Los Angeles (A) 2, Minnesota 0
29. 1964: St. Louis 7, New York (A) 5
30. 1957: Milwaukee 5, New York (A) 0
31. 1967: St. Louis 7, Boston 2
32. 1945: Detroit 9, Chicago (N) 3
33. 1909: Pittsburgh 8, Detroit 0
34. 1934: St. Louis (N) 11, Detroit 0 
35. 1985: Kansas City 11, St. Louis 0
36. 1956: New York (A) 9, Brooklyn 0

No comments:

Post a Comment