Wednesday, July 28, 2021

1951, “The Giants Is Dead”

 

                For the casual fan, the 1951 baseball season may be known for the exciting conclusion to the National League pennant race, where the New York Giants came from thirteen games behind in August to tie the Brooklyn Dodgers forcing a best-of-three playoff series between the two clubs.

                The Giants won the series on a series ending homer over the short left-field wall at the Polo Grounds hit by Bobby “The Flying Scotsman” Thomson of the Giants, off of Ralph Branca of the Dodgers.



                Many years of contentiousness happened between the two, one the hero, the other the goat. Rumors of pitch tipping and secret signals spurred an animosity between the two. But peace was made, and the two wound up being friends after their playing days were over, sometimes appearing together at autograph sessions, signing each other’s pictures of that fateful baseball moment.

                Growing up in New York City in the sixties and seventies (and eighties), there were plenty of old Dodger fans and Yankees fans that I would encounter. Interestingly enough, not many old Giants fans. And I never was able to figure out why.

                The Yankees was obvious…they never left. The Dodgers were the neighborhood guys, beloved in and around Flatbush, where one could go bowling at Gil Hodges Lanes, or see Carl Furillo at the local Italian delicatessen getting a sandwich and enjoying a bottle of Manhattan Special coffee flavored soda.

                The Giants were more standoffish. Sure, they had Willie Mays playing stickball with the kids on 155th Street in Harlem, but they came across, to me anyway, as a more corporate entity than the Dodgers.

                I was in seventh grade English class, when our teacher Mr. Applebaum, dropped the phrase “The Giants is Dead”, on us.

                He explained the story, how Dodger’s manager Chuck Dressen made this diagnosis of the Giants who had just won both ends of a double-header against the Giants, dropping them to seven games off the pace.

                He was using the story to explain to us grammar, how Dressen was made fun of over this quote as being bad English. He was telling us about conjugating the verb, but that this was an example of a plural that is really a singular.

                Example:

                The Giant is dead.

                The Giants are dead.

                Both are grammatically correct. With the baseball team being as one, The Giants refers to one entity, or singular.

                Much like when one is behind on their dues to a club (say, the Boy Scouts) and you get a note reminding you that “Dues is 50 cents”, dues is a singular entity. (Not that I ever got one of those notes, and you can’t prove otherwise)

                That lesson from Mr. Applebaum has stayed with me for lo these many years. Really not for the grammar though, to be honest.

               

                Almost Shakespearean in its culmination, the 1951 National League pennant race had the attention of the nation. Remember youngsters, no 24-hour sports networks, no interwebs. Barely any television. Newspaper and radio accounts spread the word of the battle. Wordsmiths were entrusted by we the people, to verbally paint a picture for our collective minds’ eye. And they did.

                However, this game was the first to be telecast coast-to-coast.

                Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” has been a part of baseball’s lexicon since it happened. With Whitey Lockman on second, pinch runner Clint Hartung on third and rookie outfielder Willie Mays on deck, the decision was made for Branca to pitch to Thomson rather than walk him to get to Mays. Walking Mays would create a force at any base, with one out, a ground ball could conceivably result in a game, and series ending double--play.

                There was a story that home plate umpire Lou Jorda, who was at the mound as Chuck Dressen replaced starter Don Newcombe with Ralph Branca. According to legend, Jorda said, “Branca? A fast baller? Hmm…”

                Obviously, I have no way of validating that, so I will keep it as an alleged story.

                But Branca was a fastball pitcher, and Thomson a fastball hitter.



                Another rumor, one that drove a wedge between these two, was that the Giants had someone in their clubhouse, which was located above the stands in centerfield at the Polo Grounds, with a pair of binoculars, who would look in at the catcher’s signal, and wave a white towel if the pitch was a breaking ball and do nothing for a fastball. Some allege that Thomson was aware of this and used the information to his advantage. Thomson denied knowing anything about the sign stealing.

                Personally, I think that if there were someone doing this, it would not have helped in this case. With a runner on second, the pitcher/catcher changes their sign cadence to keep the runner at second unable to signal to the batter, let alone someone with binoculars and a towel some 500 feet away.

                Thomson took the first two pitches, then drove the third pitch down the line where it carried over the left-field fence, which was just 279 feet away. The Giants won, as Russ Hodges exclaimed:

 

            Bobby Thomson... up there swingin'... He's had two out of three, a single and a double, and Billy Cox is playing him right on the third-base line... One out, last of the ninth... Branca pitches... Bobby Thomson takes a strike called on the inside corner... Bobby hitting at .292... He's had a single and a double and he drove in the Giants' first run with a long fly to center... Brooklyn leads it 4–2...Hartung down the line at third not taking any chances... Lockman with not too big of a lead at second, but he'll be runnin' like the wind if Thomson hits one... Branca throws... [audible sound of bat meeting ball]

There's a long drive... it's gonna be, I believe...THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! Bobby Thomson hits into the lower deck of the leftfield stands! The Giants win the pennant and they're goin' crazy, they're goin' crazy! HEEEY-OH!!! [ten-second pause for crowd noise]

I don't believe it! I don't believe it! I do not believe it! Bobby Thomson... hit a line drive... into the lower deck... of the leftfield stands... and this blame place is goin' crazy! The Giants! Horace Stoneham has got a winner! The Giants won it... by a score of 5 to 4... and they're pickin' Bobby Thomson up... and carryin' him off the field!

 

                That tape would have never existed had it not been for a Giants fan named Lawrence Goldberg, who had set his tape recorder to record the game, as Mr. Goldberg knew that he would not be able to listen to the game ‘live.’ And that has lived on in baseball lore since. It literally still echoes in the museum in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

 

                But plenty of other things that season led to that moment in baseball history…

                In no particular order…

                The St. Louis Browns franchise was sold in mid-season, with the ownership changing hands on July 5th. Bill Veeck, former owner of the Cleveland Indians purchased control of the Browns from the DeWitt brothers, who took control in 1949.


                “Sport Shirt Bill”, as he was referred to by The Sporting News, was approached by four separate entities to entice him to move the franchise. Interestingly, those groups were interested in the following four locations: Baltimore, Milwaukee, Los Angeles and Queens, NY. Veeck declared that the team would stay in St. Louis for the time being. They would shift to Baltimore before the 1954 season.

                There was talk of the Milwaukee move citing poor attendance, but that was scrapped. Milwaukee would land the Boston Braves in time for the 1953 season. And we know the Dodgers moved west for the 1958 season.

                But how interesting would it have been with two American League teams and two National League teams within the five boroughs of New York? Would the relocation of the two National League teams have happened? And, if it did happen, would there still have been expansion in 1961 and 1962?

                The first expansion was done to defeat the upstart Continental League, whose main purpose, in many eyes, was to bring National League baseball back to New York. I’m not sure that the investors would have lined up to do so. The Yankee powerhouse in the Bronx would have overshadowed their league counterparts in Queens by a long way. If anything, the locals may have tried to inspire the new Queens team to improve their roster quickly. The Browns were a second division team at this point, and it would be a couple of years as they were, to begin to grow their young talent.

                It makes for a great “What if…”

                Especially if the players that were playing in Queens, under whatever team name they may have been, became neighborhood guys. Guys who went to the Knights of Columbus dinners, who you might see shopping at the local Bohack’s supermarket.

                They may have supplanted the Dodgers as the loveable team, and not missed the new West Coast team.

 

                We will never know.

 

                1951 marked the rookie debut of (among others) Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, and Eddie Gaedel.

 

                Gaedel, the shortest man to play in the majors, makes a pinch-hitting appearance for the aforementioned St. Louis Browns against the Detroit Tigers on August 19th. In the second game of a double-header, in the bottom of the first inning, Gaedel was sent up to hit for Browns right-fielder Frank Saucier.

                Tigers’ catcher Bob Swift went to the mound to offer encouragement to his pitcher Bob Cain.

                “Pitch it low.” Was the sage advice offered to the lefty hurler.

                Gaedel, batting from the right side, and wearing jersey # 1/8 dug in, his strike zone was reputed to be the size of a postage stamp. Despite his wishes of attempting to hit the ball, he took all for pitches, none of which were strikes, and walked to first, where he was removed for a pinch-runner, Jim Delsing.

                The stunt, by known showman Bill Veeck, made headlines across the nation, and earned Gaedel a spot in the baseball Hall of Fame (his jersey is on display) but did not translate well on the field, as the Browns lost both ends of the twin-bill.



                Both Mays and Mantle struggled in their initial start with their respective New York teams.

                Mantle made the Yankees out of Spring Training. Many assumed him the next great in the Yankee tradition, so much so that he was assigned jersey #6. (3 was Babe Ruth, 4 was Lou Gehrig, 5 was Joe DiMaggio) But Mantle was not comfortable with the pressure and expectations. Add to that, Joe DiMaggio announced that 1951 would be his final season, and Casey Stengel made no secret that Mantle was the heir apparent in centerfield.

                Mantle lost confidence at the plate, and his average began to suffer. In early summer, the decision was made to send him to the minors for a bit more ‘seasoning’. Mantle reported to the Kansas City Blues and continued to struggle. Ha managed three hits in his first five games, one of them a bunt. His power was gone, and he was despondent, and decided to quit.

                Part of the Mantle legend was the drive and will of his father, “Mutt” Mantle. It was Mutt that extolled the virtues of hard work and commitment into young Mick (who was named after Mutt’s favorite player, Mickey Cochrane.

                More importantly, in baseball terms, Mutt understood the advantage of versatility in a young player, and understood platooning, which is why he convinced young Mickey to become a switch-hitter.

                Mickey called Mutt and told him of the decision to quit baseball, and Mutt famously drove directly from Commerce, Oklahoma to Mickey’s hotel room in Kansas City. There, the father began packing his son’s suitcase, telling him that he was a coward. Young Mickey broke down crying and promised to give baseball another chance. And he caught fire.

                For the next month, he hit over .360 with a dozen homers, earning himself another call-up to the Bronx. This time, being assigned jersey #7, he settled into right field, alongside the Yankee Clipper, and on into the Fall Classic.

                On Coogan’s Bluff, where the New York Giants called home, they had their own wunderkind.

                Willie Howard Mays, from Birmingham, Alabama, was called up to the big club from the Minnesota Millers in early May. He was hitting .477 at the time but did not think he could hit big league pitching. Giants skipper Leo Durocher asked Willie if he thought he could hit .250 in the majors. Willie thought about it and caught a flight to meet the Giants in Philadelphia.

                Mays went hitless in his first couple of games for the Giants. Returning to New York, he faced Boston Braves lefty Warren Spahn, who gave up the first home run to Willie.    

                Spahn would say later:” For the first sixty feet, it was a hell of a pitch.”

                Willie went into another slump and found himself batting just .038. Willie was very emotional, in tears even, and the other coaches got Durocher, who gave Willie a pep talk. Willie then found himself, going on a tear for the next two weeks, and the rest of the Giants got hot as well. They went 37-7 at the end of the season to catch the Dodgers and force the playoff.



                Mays made it to the World Series, where he got to meet his boyhood hero, Joe DiMaggio, before the first game. Willie did not fare to well in the Series, batting just .182 as the Yankees won handily in six games.

                But Willie would always be tied to the great New York centerfield tradition in a different way.

                In the second game of the Series, Mays hit a fly ball into the right-centerfield gap. Mantle, who was in right, was able to cover far more ground than DiMaggio, in center. As they went for the ball, Joe D called for it, and Mantle changed his direction at the last minute to avoid a collision. In doing so, he caught his foot in a drainpipe, damaging his knee. He was carried off the field on a stretcher, his season ended.

 


                In Boston, the Red Sox held a celebration for the Fiftieth Anniversary of the American League. 29 ‘Old Timers’ appeared at the festivities, including Connie Mack and Cy Young. Eight of the attendees participated in the first ever American League game in Chicago, including outfielder Dummy Hoy, who caught the last out of the game.

                Then, in the game after the ceremony, Ted Williams homered to become just the eleventh player to reach the 300-home run plateau.

Also, for the Red Sox, rookie Charley Maxwell finished the season with a .188 average, with three home runs. Interestingly, all three were pinch-hit homers, and all three were off of future Hall of Fame pitchers. (Bob Feller, Bob Lemon and Satchel Paige)

The St. Louis Cardinals became the only team in the twentieth century to play two different teams in the same day. On September 13th, they played an afternoon game against the New York Giants, and a night game against the Boston Braves. They beat the Giants but lost to the Braves.

Cleveland Indians fire-baller Bob Feller pitches his record third no-hitter.

Ralph Kiner of the Pirates hits a home run in his third consecutive All-Star Game.

Kiner also received a suspension due to his actions on the field involving a dispute with an umpire. The league office sent a telegram to the Pirates, but it arrived too late for the team to take action, so it was decided that his suspension would begin the following day. Kiner homered twice that day and wound up winning the home run title by those two home runs, 42-40, over runner up Gil Hodges.

Pirates’ pitcher Cliff Chambers ties a record (since broken) by walking eight batters in a no-hitter. 


St. Louis Browns rookie Bob Nieman became the only player to hit a home run in his first two at-bats.

Browns hurler Ned Garver wins 20 games for a team that lost 102 games. Ned won 38.5% of the Browns victories.

Chicago Cubs shortstop Roy Smalley becomes the last player to make more than 50 errors in a season, finishing with 51. (Apparently, the cry became Miksis to Smalley to Addison Street)

 

                Philadelphia A’s first-baseman Ferris Fain won the American League Batting title, the first of two consecutive batting titles. He is the last batting title leader with 20 strikeouts or less, and one of eight two-time season batting leaders who finished with a career average below .300. (Fain finished at .290)



The Yankees scored eleven runs in the 9th inning against the Browns, which is the American League record for ninth inning runs. Rookie of the Year Gil McDougald drove in six in the inning, tying the AL record.

Chicago White Sox pitcher Saul Rogovin finished the season with three complete game shutouts. All three were against the Detroit Tigers, who traded Rogovin to the White Sox for Bob Cain (see above) on May 15th.

The Yankees’ Gene Woodling seemed to have something with Indian’s pitcher Early Wynn, and the 24th.




On June 24th, Woodling hit a two-run homer off Early Wynn to break a 3-3 tie, and give the Yankees a 5-3 win

On July 24th, with the Indians enjoying a 2-0 lead, Woodling hit a two-run homer off Early Wynn to tie the game. The Yankees would win 3-2.

On August 24th, in a scoreless game, Woodling once again tagged Early Wynn for another two-run homer, which gave the Yankees a 2-0 win.

 

On May 1st, the Cubs were playing the Giants. Apparently, one of the Cubs players called umpire Frank Dascoli “Rabbit Ears”, and he banished the bench to the clubhouse. He did not eject the players, just made them go to the clubhouse. Except, in the Polo Grounds, as I mentioned earlier, the clubhouse was out in centerfield.


According to what I have read and heard, this happened in the 4th inning of the game, and the Cubs made one pitching change, and used two pinch-hitters in a 5-3 loss.

That same umpire, Frank Dascoli ejected future Hall of Famer Bill Sharman from the Dodger bench after riding him over a bad call. Of course, Sharman is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, as he never did make a major league appearance.

He is (allegedly) the only player to have been ejected from a game to have never played. Several researchers and writers have tried to prove/disprove this story, with most falling on the disprove side. But it makes a great story.

Baseball historian Keith Olbermann (yes, that guy) made a list of phantom major league players and named it “The Bill Sharman Society”.

And in an oddity, Eddie Yost of the Washington Senators and Roy McMillan of the Reds both began record consecutive game played streaks in 1951. Yost at third base (576) and McMillan at shortstop (584). Both would eventually coach the Mets in 1973 along with Rube Walker and Joe Pignitano under 1951 AL Most Valuable Player Yogi Berra.






Elsewhere around baseball…

The American Legion held its annual baseball tournament in Detroit. Playing at Briggs stadium to celebrate the city’s 250th Anniversary, Post #715 representing Crenshaw California won the Championship. On that team was a teenager named George Anderson, better known as Sparky, who would later lead the Detroit Tigers to a World Series championship in 1984.


There were approximately 50 different minor leagues, with approximately 371 teams with records that had somehow been complied. Some of those highlights are:

Paul Stuffel of the Schenectady Blue Jays (Phillies farm team) pitched a no-hitter against the Elmira Pioneers. He struck out 20 batters but walked 10 in his Eastern League debut. He won the game 6-3.

Outfielder Miguel Gaspar of the Laredo Apaches (Independent team) hits four home runs and a double, for 16 total bases) in a 13-2 win over the Texas City Texans of the Gulf Coast League.

Ray Martin of the Atlanta Crackers (Braves) came in to a bases loaded situation with no one on in the bottom of the ninth against the Nashville Vols of the Southern Association. Bob Brady was the batter, and he hit Martin’s first pitch into a game ending triple play.

On June 2nd, the Tarboro Athletics of the Coastal Plains League score 24 runs in the fifth inning against the Wilson Tobs. Both teams were independent teams. The A’s sent 25 batters to the plate before the first out was made. Tarboro won 31-4.

 

There were five batters who won the ‘Triple Crown’ in their league.

They were:

                Stan Goletz of the Brownsville Charros in the Gulf Coast League

                                37/137/.378

                Leo Shoals of the Kingsport Cherokees in the Appalachian League             

                                30/129/.383

                Dick Wilson, Modesto Reds, Pirate’s affiliate in the California League

                                40/151/.371

Pud Miller, player manager of the Hickory Rebels in the North Carolina State League

                                40/136/.425

                Future major league manager Dave Garcia, Oshkosh Giants, New York Giants affiliate in the Wisconsin State League.

                                23/127/.369

 

There were seven batters who hit .400 or better, three of those in the Mountain States League. They were the aforementioned Pud Miller,

                Stanley Roseboro, Klamath Falls Gems, Phillies affiliate in the Far West League.

                                .409

                Future major league manager Paul Owens, Olean Oilers in the PONY League.

                                .407

                Charles Quimby, player manager of the Tallahassee Citizens in the Alabama-Florida League          

                                .404

                Orville Kitts, Morriston Red Sox in the Mountain States League

                                .424 in 383 official at bats

                Len Feriancek of the Pennington Gap Miners in the Mountain States League

                                .421 in 513 official at bats

                Max Macon, player manager, Hazard Bombers, Dodgers affiliate in the Mountain States League 

                                .409

 

And then, there were other stats that jumped out at me.

 

Anderson Bush, Hagerstown Braves, Interstate League affiliate of the Braves went 22-3 with a 1.70 ERA

Al Neil, Spartanburg Peaches, Indians’ affiliate in the Tri-State League hit 44 homes and drove in 154 RBI playing in 140 games.

Eddie Murphy, Spokane Indians, unaffiliated team in the Western International League, stole 90

bases.

                Harry Walker, Columbus Red Birds, Cardinals’ affiliate in the American Association, batted .393

                Jack Harshaw, Nashville Vols, Cubs’ affiliate in the Southern Association hit 47 homers with 141 RBI. He hit six Grand Slam homers in 1951.

                Vinegar Bend Mizell, Houston Buffaloes, Cardinals’ affiliate in the Texas League, struck out 257 batters in 238 innings (9.72 k/9 IP)

                Jose Santiago, Wilkes-Barre Indians, Cleveland affiliate in the eastern League, went 21-5 with a 1.59 ERA

                Ryne Duren, Dayton Indians, Cleveland affiliate in the Central League, struck out 238 batter in 198 innings. He also walked 194 batters. His WHIP was an incredible 1.667. His k9 was 10.82

                Bob Bonebrake, Greenwood Dodgers, Dodger affiliate of the Cotton States League stole 78 bases.

                Joseph Kopach, Clarksdale Planters, independent team of the Cotton States League went 17-20, only pitcher on his team with double digit wins. He has to finish the season as the player/manager.

                Roy Price, Houma Indians, independent team in the Evangeline League, struck out 344 batters in 281 innings. (11.02 k/9)

                Dean Franks, Roswell Rockets, independent team in the Longhorn League went 30-9.

                Walter Montgomery, St. Joseph Cardinals, Cardinals’ affiliate in the Western Association, struck out 230 batters and walked 155 in 187 innings. His WHIP was 1.629 and his k/9 was 10.51.

                Pitching was predominant in the Southwest International League. Vince Gonzales of the Juarez Indios won thirty games, finishing at 32-11.

                Bill Stiles of the El Paso Texans was close, finishing at 29-9.

                Guillermo “Memo” Luna of the Tijuana Potros struck out 318 batters in 314 innings.

                Tony Ponce of the Phoenix Senators threw 38 complete games, pitching 352 innings and going 25-16.

                John McPherson of the independent Headland Dixie Runners of the Alabama-Florida League drove in 130 runs in 104 games.

                Robert Westfall of the independent Kingsport Cherokees in the Appalachian League scored 140 runs, drove in 120 and walked 122 times in 129 games.

                In the Kentucky-Illinois-Tennessee (Kitty) League:

                Player/Manager Wayne Blackburn of the Owensboro Oilers walked 154 times in 110 games.

                Hal Seawright of the Jackson Generals drove in 122 in 118 games.

Russ Davis of the Paducah Chiefs walked 131 times in 119 games.             

And Scott Mayfield, a Pirates’ affiliate in the Kitty League, struck out 212 batter in 153 inning (12.47 k/9)

Oscar Solorzano of the independent Mt. Vernon Kings of the Mississippi-Ohio Valley League walked 117 times in 117 games.

Teammate Jim Given drove in 199 runs in 114 games.

Jim Granneman, playing for the Paris Lakers and the Centralia Zeros, both independent teams in the Mississippi-Ohio Valley League, walked 117 times and scored 120 runs in 120 games.

Ray Perry, Redding Browns, Brown’s affiliate of the Far West League, walked 180 times and drove in 128 runs in 130 games.

Claude Shoemake of the Independent Rome Red Sox of the Georgia-Alabama League drove in 135 runs in 110 games.

Jack Bearden of the Griffin Pimientos in the same league drove in 127 runs in 115 games.

Pitcher Harry Raulerson, Waycross Bears of the Georgia-Florida League went 22-10 with an ERA of 1.98 while also batting .329

Van Davis of the Douglas Trojans in the Georgia State League drove in 139 runs in 129 games.

Parnell Ruark of the Dublin Green Sox of the same league drove in 140 runs in 126 games.

Morris Mack, Ponca City Dodgers, Brooklyn’s affiliate in the Kansas-Oklahoma-Missouri (K-O-M) League stole 71 bases.

Max Ross, Marion Red Sox, Sox affiliate of the Ohio-Indiana League drove in 105 runs in 94 games.

The Olean Oilers, an independent team in the Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York (PONY) League had four batters that drove in 100 or more runs, led by Chuck Harmon, who drove in 143 in 115 games.

Angel Scull, of the Wellsville Rockets, another independent team in the PONY League stole 60 bases.

Future big leaguer, pitcher Karl Spooner of the Hornell Dodgers, Brooklyn’s affiliate in the PONY League struck out 200 batters in 170 innings (10.59 k/9)

William Halstead of the Pennington Gap Miners in the Mountain States League hit 34 homers with 142 runs batted in playing in 121 games.

The Dodgers’ affiliate in the Mountain States League scores 1,032 runs.

Battle Sanders, splitting time between the independent Harlan Smokies and the affiliated Hazard Bombers in the MSL drove in 151 runs in 124 games.

Future big-leaguer Johnny Podres of the Bombers went 21-3 with a 1.67 ERA while striking out 228 in 200 IP (10.26 k/9)

In the Wisconsin State League, Jack Levitt of the Green Bay Blue jays, an Indians’ affiliate, walked 134 times in 121 games.

And John Rucker, of the Sheboygan Indians, a Dodgers’ affiliate in the WSL walked 116 walks and stole 43 bases in 116 games.

Harold Martin, playing for the Colonial Heights-Peterboro Generals and the Emporia Rebels hit 31 homers, walked 115 times, and drove in 120 runs in 107 games.

Ken Hatcher of the Colonial Heights-Peterboro Generals bit 27 homers and drove in 121 in 115 games.

In the Western Carolina League lost 59 of its last 60 games, including the last 33 in a row, to finish with a 14-96 record/ A .127 wining percentage. They were 57 games behind the pennant winner, in a 110-game season.

Within that league, Oliver Bass, of the Shelby Farmers drove in 157 runs in 11 games, and teammate Charles Ballard scored 137 runs in 112 games.

Pitcher John Pyecha, of the Rutherford County Owls, a Cubs’ affiliate in the Western Carolina League struck out 217 batters in 129 inning, for a fantastic 15.14 k/9 rate.

In the West Texas-New Mexico League, which according to The Sporting News featured “small parks and high winds’, three teams scored 1,000 or more runs. 18 players with 100 or more RBIs and 26 players with 100 or more runs scored.

The Lamesa Lobos combined for a .307 team average, and the Amarillo Gold Sox hit 177 home runs.

Within that league, Glenn Burns of the Lobos drove in 197 runs in 141 games, teammate Donald Stokes drove in 155 runs in 141 games, and another teammate Pedro Santiago scored 163 runs in 138 games.

Crawford Howard of the Gold Sox drove in 156 runs and scored another 151, in 142 games.

And Albuquerque Dukes pitcher Jesse Priest led the league in ERA with 3.15. He was 19-4.

And in the Sooner State League, the Ardmore Indians scored 1,289 runs, the Shawnee Hawks scored 1,059 runs and the league featured 11 individual players who scored 120 or more runs.

Glenn Snyder of the Indians batted .349 and scored 141 runs, drove in 155 in 131 games. Teammate Manuel Temes batted .340, scored 141 runs and drove in 155 in 139 games. Another teammate Joaquin Nodar scored 179 runs and walked 137 times in 137 games. Another teammate Ernesto Klein scored 141 times and drove in 114 in 136 games. Yet another teammate Jose Blanco scored 178 runs and walked 164 times in 138 games. And finally, teammate Armin Somonte went 24-11 with 341 strikeouts in 289 innings (10.62 k/9)

Ardmore owner, Arthur Willingham, signed twelve Cuban ballplayers before the season started, along with a few Venezuelan players. Willingham, who purchased the Ardmore franchise before the 1950 season, traveled to Cuba in March of 1951 to personally scout 23 players.

Louis Fitzgerald of the Shawnee Hawks batted .379, walked 146 times and scored 122 runs in 138 games. And teammate Gahlen Dinkle scored 139 runs and walked 136 times in 118 games.

Ardmore won 99 games against 40 losses to win the pennant, but lost the league championship to the McAlester Rockets, led by legendary baseball lifer Vern Hoscheit.

 

Getting back to the major leagues, where we talked about the Yankees beating the Giants in the World Series, we will look at team statistics.

In pitching, the league’s best teams were:

National League

American League

Giants

Yankees

Dodgers

Indians

Cardinals

White Sox

 

And on offense, this list:

Dodgers

Red Sox

Giants

Yankees

Braves

A’s

 

And the overall power rankings were:

Yankees

World Series Champions

Giants

National League Champions

Dodgers

2nd in National League

Indians

2nd in American League

Red Sox

3rd in American League

 

 

Now, looking at the stats, beginning with the National League pitchers, who were statistically 3.4% better than their American League counterparts, we get this initial top ten performers:

Pitcher

Team

W-L

ERA

Svs

Preacher Roe

Dodgers

22-3

3.04

0

Sal Maglie

Giants

23-6

2.93

4

Larry Jansen

Giants

23-11

3.04

0

Warren Spahn

Braves

22-14

2.98

0

Robin Roberts

Phillies

21-15

3.03

2

Don Newcombe

Dodgers

20-9

3.28

0

Vern Bickford

Braves

11-9

3.12

0

Ken Raffensberger

Reds

16-17

3.44

5

Jim Hearn

Giants

17-9

3.62

0

Chet Nichols

Braves

11-8

2.88

2

 

 Then, compared to their team’s performances, we get this list:  

Dutch Leonard

Cubs

10-6

2.64

3

Murry Dickson

Pirates

20-16

4.02

2

Warren Spahn

Above

 

 

 

Robin Roberts

Above

 

 

 

Preacher Roe

Above

 

 

 

Vern Bickford

Above

 

 

 

Sal Maglie

Above

 

 

 

Larry Jansen

Above

 

 

 

Ken Raffensberger

Above

 

 

 

Chet Nichols

Above

 

 

 

 

                And that finalizes our top ten ranking for National League pitchers as:

Preacher Roe

5th in MVP vote

Warren Spahn

11th in MVP vote

Sal Maglie

4th in MVP vote

Larry Jansen

14th in MVP vote

Robin Roberts

13th in MVP vote

Dutch Leonard

No votes

Don Newcombe

22nd in MVP vote

Vern Bickford

No votes

Ken Raffensberger

18th in MVP

Chet Nichols

No votes

 

                In the American League, our initial list is:

Eddie Lopat

Yankees

21-9

2.91

0

Saul Rogovin

Tigers/White Sox

12-8

2.78

0

Bob Feller

Indians

22-8

3.50

0

Bob Kuzava

Senators/Yankees

11-7

3.61

5

Early Wynn

Indians

20-13

3.02

1

Vic Raschi

Yankees

21-10

3.27

0

Allie Reynolds

Yankees

17-8

3.05

6

Mel Parnell

Red Sox

1811

3.26

2

Mike Garcia

Indians

20-13

3.15

1

Ned Garver

Browns

20-12

3.73

1

 

                Then compared to their team’s numbers, we get:

Ned Garver

Above

 

 

 

Bob Porterfield

Yankees/Senators

9-8

3.50

0

Bobby Shantz

A’s

18-10

3.94

0

Connie Marrero

Senators

11-9

3.90

0

Saul Rogovin

Above

 

 

 

Eddie Lopat

Above

 

 

 

Mel Parnell

Above

 

 

 

Don Johnson

Browns/Senators

7-12

4.76

0

Sam Zoldak

A’s

6-10

3.16

0

Bob Feller

Above

 

 

 

Early Wynn

Above

 

 

 

 

                And that finalizes our top American League pitching performances to:

Ned Garver

2nd in MVP vote

Eddie Lopat

12th in MVP vote

Saul Rogovin

No votes

Bob Porterfield

21st in MVP vote

Bob Kuzava

No votes

Bob Feller

5th in MVP vote

Early Wynn

16th in MVP

Vic Raschi

8th in MVP vote

Mel Parnell

34th in MVP vote

Bobby Shantz

21st in MVP vote

 

                               

 

                Switching gears, and moving to the offense, our initial National League top ten batters were:

Player

Team

HR

RBI

AVG

RC/G

Stan Musial

Cardinals

32

108

.355

1.32

Roy Campanella

Dodgers

33

108

.325

1.15

Ralph Kiner

Pirates

42

109

.309

1.26

Monte Irvin

Giants

24

121

.312

1.26

Jackie Robinson

Dodgers

19

88

.338

1.14

Sid Gordon

Braves

29

109

.287

1.17

Gil Hodges

Dodgers

40

103

.268

1.15

Bobby Thomson

Giants

32

101

.293

1.07

Duke Snider

Dodgers

29

101

.277

1.12

Earl Torgeson

Braves

24

92

.263

1.08

 

And against their team averages, the top performers were:

Stan Musial

Above

 

 

 

 

Ralph Kiner

Above

 

 

 

 

Monte Irvin

Above

 

 

 

 

Roy Campanella

Above

 

 

 

 

Hank Sauer

Cubs

30

89

.263

0.96

Sid Gordon

Above

 

 

 

 

Randy Jackson

Cubs

16

76

.275

0.95

Richie Ashburn

Phillies

4

63

.344

0.98

Connie Ryan

Reds

16

53

.237

0.82

Johnny Wyrostek

Reds

2

61

.311

0.78

 

And the brings our overall top National League hitters to this list:

Stan Musial

2nd in MVP vote

Ralph Kiner

10th in MVP vote

Roy Campanella

NL MVP

Monte Irvin

3rd in MVP vote

Sid Gordon

16th in MVP vote (tie)

Jackie Robinson

6th in MVP vote

Bobby Thomson

7th in MVP vote

Gil Hodges

16th in MVP vote (tie)

Earl Torgeson

No votes

Duke Snider

No votes

 

 

In the American League, where the betters fared 5.5% better than the national League hitters, our initial top ten list is:

Ted Williams

Red Sox

30

126

.318

1.39

Gus Zernial

White Sox/A’s

33

129

.268

1.31

Minnie Minoso

Indians/White Sox

10

76

.326

1.22

Yogi Berra

Yankees

27

88

.294

1.09

Eddie Joost

A’s

19

78

.289

1.19

Eddie Robinson

White Sox

29

117

.282

1.15

Vic Wertz

Tigers

27

94

.285

1.11

Irv Noren

Senators

8

86

.279

1.24

Vern Stephens

Red Sox

17

78

.300

1.13

Dom DiMaggio

Red Sox

12

72

.296

1.18

 

Gus Zernial and Minnie Minoso were both traded early in the season, interestingly enough, as part of a three-team deal. The White Sox traded Zernial and Dave Philley to the A’s, who sent Paul Lehner to the White Sox, and Lou Brissie to the Indians. The Indians then sent Minoso to the White Sox, and Ray Murray and Sam Zoldak to the A’s.

(This may be the only trade in history that involved two players whose last name started with a Z)

And against their teams, we get:

Ted Williams

Above

 

 

 

 

Minnie Minoso

Above

 

 

 

 

Gus Zernial

Above

 

 

 

 

Vic Wertz

Above

 

 

 

 

Irv Noren

Above

 

 

 

 

Eddie Joost

Above

 

 

 

 

Larry Doby

Indians

20

69

.295

0.99

Ray Coleman

Browns

5

55

.282

1.00

Luke Easter

Indians

27

103

.270

1.10

Eddie Robinson

Above

 

 

 

 

 

This brings our overall top ten American League hitters list to:

Ted Williams

13th in MVP vote

Gus Zernial

20th in MVP vote

Minnie Minoso

4th in MVP vote, 2nd in Rookie of the Year vote

Yogi Berra

AL MVP

Eddie Joost

14th in MVP vote

Vic Wertz

No votes

Irv Noren

28th in MVP vote

Eddie Robinson

24th in MVP vote

Larry Doby

No votes

Luke Easter

No votes

 

 

In retrospect, most of the better performances were on the offensive side of the game, with the top five in each league being hitters. The post season awards were given to two catchers, Campanella in the NL, and Berra in the AL. Both figured in my top four in each league, but neither had the best overall season.

I will list the top 4, and then the top pitcher for each.

 

National League

 

Stan Musial

Player of the Year

 

Ralph Kiner

Roy Campanella

Monte Irvin

 

Preacher Roe

Pitcher of the Year

 

 

American League

 

Ted Williams

Player of the Year

 

Gus Zernial

Minnie Minoso

Yogi Berra


      Ned Garver

Pitcher of the Year

 


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