This Day in Yankee History: Oct. 1, 1949 Joe DiMaggio But proved his ability immediately with the Yankees, winning the American League pennant and the World Series in 1949 and winning both crowns again in 1950 and 1951. Having talent on the roster did make a difference. DiMaggio might have been as big a celebrity as there was in the big town, but now Stengel had a resume that screamed loudly. Stengel was never going to win a popularity contest with DiMaggio in New York if he felt he had to bench him and DiMaggio squawked, but it didn’t come to that. DiMaggio had so many physical ailments, bone spurs on both heels and bone chips in his elbow, it probably did not surprise anyone when in mid-September of the 1949 season when he came down with a mild case of pneumonia and missed another chunk of time. He was apparently worn out. On October 1, the last day of the 1949 season, the star was honored with a Joe DiMaggio Appreciation Day at Yankee Stadium. Team officials were probably wondering how long DiMaggio would continue to play and just in case his setbacks led to him making a decision to retire in the off-season they wished to honor him while he was still in uniform. The fans wanted to be there, too, and 69,551 turned out. In a speech to the fans, DiMaggio said that when he was a rookie headed to the Big Apple, Lefty O’Doul, who was managing the San Francisco Seals and had once hit as high as .398 in the majors, took the young DiMaggio aside to offer advice. DiMaggio said O’Doul told him not to be scared of New York City because it was really the friendliest of towns. “This day proves it,” DiMaggio said. He thanked Stengel, friends and teammates, whom he called “the fightingest bunch that ever lived.” Bronx Bomber will not only cover the great hitters and their hitting careers, it will also cover many of the iconic home runs. Excerpted from Bronx Bombers: Yankee Home Run History by Lew Freedman published by Blue River Press and distributed by Cardinal Publishers Group. For more of Yankee home run history, pick up your copy of Bronx Bomber today. Like us on Facebook, Cardinal Publishers Group. Follow us on Twitter @Cardinal_Pub
The following are excerpts from Bronx Bombers: New York Yankees Home Run History by Lew Freedman, published by Blue River Press and distributed by Cardinal Publishers Group © 2015. Please join us as we give a salute to Yogi Berra. Bronx Bomber will not only cover the great hitters and their hitting careers, it will also cover many of the iconic home runs. Lawrence Peter Berra was born in St. Louis in 1925 and grew up in that city. His best friend was Joe Garagiola, another catcher, who became more famous as a broadcaster than he ever was as a big-league ball player. Berra had a knack for a few things in this life. He did not pursue higher education, quitting school in the eighth grade, and as a big-leaguer it was said his most challenging reading was comic books and box scores. Berra excelled as a hitter and fielder and as reader of men. He was a leader on the field when he caught, a magnificent handler of pitches. Later, he became a successful manager and coach. Berra was known for sticking up for his guys and sticking out in a crowd because he uttered pithy sayings picked up by sportswriters. His most famous comment was, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” As the years went by it was never quite clear if Berra had actually said what was attributed to him or had his words embellished by overzealous sportswriters. In the end it did not matter because the words sounded as if he would have said them. Yogi had the capacity to make people laugh, intentionally or unintentionally. He once said, “I really didn’t say everything I said,” referring to the confusion of the accuracy of some quotes attributed to him. Berra stood 5-foot-7 and weighed 185 pounds. He possessed the squat look of a catcher, a body type that seemed to fit the position. He batted lefty and had a great eye for the pill. He was a bad-ball hitter in the sense that if he wanted to hit a pitch, it didn’t matter if it was out of the strike zone. Yogi would find it and blast it. Berra’s swing covered most of the plate and its vicinity and he was labeled a bad-ball hitter. His response was, “If I can hit it, it’s a good pitch.” Berra is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Yankees retired his number eight uniform. When he was in his 20s some seasons Berra was exclusively a catcher. A little later, in order to save wear and tear on his knees, he played outfield, too. A 15-time All-Star, Berra was sometimes overshadowed by Joe DiMaggio, or later Mickey Mantle, but those in the know realized he was the indispensable man for the Yankees and he won three American League Most Valuable Player awards. Another thing about Yogi: He was a winner. During his playing career between 1947 and 1963 the Yankees won 14 pennants. He played in 14 World Series, 75 Series games in all and won 10 championship rings. He added to that total later as a coach and manager, too, ending up with an incredible 21 World Series involvements in three in-uniform capacities. Berra smacked 12 World Series home runs and drove in 39 runs in World Series play. When it comes to the all-time Major League list for World Series stats, Berra’s name is all over the chart. That RBI total is second. The games played total is first. Berra is first in at-bats and plate appearances, first in singles, third in walks, first in doubles, third in homers, second in total bases, second in runs, and first in hits (71). Obviously it took Berra quite a bit of effort to prepare since he said, “Ninety percent of the game is half mental.” Berra hit .429 in the 1953 World Series and .417 in 1955. In the 1956 World Series Berra slammed three home runs and drove in 10 runs while batting .360. In 1947, Berra hit the first pinch-hit home run in World Series history against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Among some other memorable comments attributed to Berra was the way he showed gratitude upon receiving a special honor. He said, “Thank you for making this day necessary.” Make no mistake, Berra was proud of his hitting prowess and he was not ashamed that he poled several balls out of the strike zone a great distance. “I liked to hit,” he said. For regular updates, like us on Facebook (Cardinal Publishers Group) and follow us on Twitter @Cardinal_Pub
This day in Philadelphia Phillies history, September 21, 1964... On September 21, 1964 the Phillies had a six-and-a-half game lead with 12 games to play when they met the Cincinnati Reds at Connie Mack Stadium. With skipper Fred Hutchinson battling cancer, Coach Dick Sisler was the Reds’ interim manager. Sisler had played for the 1950 Phillies, the “Whiz Kids,” who blew a seven-and-a-half game lead and had to beat the Dodgers in the final game of the season to win the pennant. Sisler’s three-run homer at Ebbets Field had won the game. Although the Reds were six-and-a-half games back of the Phillies, Sisler thought his club still had a chance, “If we can get within two, two-and-a-half or three games of them. The closer we get, the more pressure will be on them. If it gets that close, they might get a little tight. That’s what I noticed on the 1950 Phillies. When you see ‘em right behind you, it begins to tell.” Art Mahaffey and the Reds John Tsitouris hooked up in a scoreless duel until the top of the sixth. After Pete Rose grounded out, Chico Ruiz singled to right. Vada Pinson followed with a single sending Ruiz to third, but Pinson was thrown out trying to go to second. So, Ruiz was at third with two outs and the Reds cleanup hitter Frank Robinson at the plate. His bombastic personality, brilliant baseball mind, and loyalty to his players earned him the moniker of the Little General. As Ruiz led off from third, he studied Mahaffey’s slow deliberate windup. A light bulb flashed on. “It just came to my mind,” Ruiz said, “you either do it or you don’t.” With two strikes on Robinson, as Mahaffey wound up again, Ruiz bolted for home plate. “Just as I’m ready to throw, Ruiz ran at the fraction of a second that my head is turning and my arm is coming down,” remembered Mahaffey. “My brain panicked and I held my arm up and threw a pitch two feet wide of the plate.” Catcher Clay Dalrymple had no chance to catch the ball as it went all the way back to the screen. Ruiz stole home and gave the Reds a 1-0 win. “If you steal home and Frank Robinson is the f*****g hitter,” said an incredulous Dalrymple, “and the game is on the line, you gotta have some big balls.” Just four days after Willie Davis stole home to beat the Phillies, it had happened again. And that is what happened this day, September 21, 1964, in Phillies history. This is an excerpt from The Little General: Gene Mauch A Baseball Life (2015) written by Mel Proctor, published by Blue River Press and distributed by Cardinal Publishers Group.
August 2015 / 1976, 1973, 1979 This Day in Yankee History Let's take a look at this month in Yankee history - August. Catchers are often the closest thing to true warriors in baseball and Thurman Munson was one of those guys. Munson was a good hitter, an excellent fielder, and a great leader. Every good team must have one and Munson filled that role for the Yankees. As an illustration of that the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Munson was anointed team captain of the club in 1976. It was the first time the Yankees named a captain since Lou Gehrig completed his New York career in 1939. Munson grew up in Ohio, played at Kent State, was a high draft of the Yankees in 1968, and spent only one season in the minors. By August of 1979 Munson had been selected to seven All-Star teams. He broke into the majors in 1969 with a brief showing, but was rookie of the year in 1970. In 1976, Munson was the American League’s MVP. Six times he hit at least 10 home runs in a season, with a high of 20 in 1973. As of early August of 1979, Munson had appeared in 97 games for the Yankees and was batting .288. He was in his 11th season with the club. A proud man Munson was often compared to Boston’s Carlton Fisk as one of the two best catchers in the American League, and to Johnny Bench of the Cincinnati Reds, in a debate over who was the best of the trio in Major League baseball. Munson wore a walrus mustache and could be gruff in his relations with sportswriters. Unlike some earlier generations of Yankees, Munson could not count on playing in the World Series every year. But he helped make New York good enough for the Yankees to appear in three Series in a row between 1976 and 1978. Whether it was the American League Championship Series or the World Series, Munson was always clutch in the playoffs. His lifetime average in three of each of those types of series was .378. In the ’76 World Series versus Cincinnati Munson batted .529 ...And that is what happened this month in Yankee history - August. Bronx Bomber will not only cover the great hitters and their hitting careers, it will also cover many of the iconic home runs. Excerpted from Bronx Bombers: Yankee Home Run History by Lew Freedman published by Blue River Press and distributed by Cardinal Publishers Group. For more of Yankee home run history, pick up your copy of Bronx Bomber today. Brought to you by CPG News & Information