Blessed with a powerful lineup and arguably the American League’s best pitching staff, the Cleveland Indians seemed poised to replace the New York Yankees atop the A.L. standings heading into the 1952 campaign. Further enhancing Cleveland’s chances were the offseason retirement of Joe DiMaggio and the military inductions of starting Yankee infielders Bobby Brown and Jerry Coleman. However, when all was said and done, the Yankees captured their fourth consecutive league championship under manager Casey Stengel, finishing the year with a record of 95-59, two games ahead of the second-place Indians.
The Indians failed to put an end to New York’s successful title run even though they had perhaps more talent than any other team in baseball. Al Rosen, Larry Doby, Luke Easter, Dale Mitchell, and Bobby Avila led an offense that scored a league-leading 763 runs. Rosen hit 28 home runs, led the American League with 105 runs batted in, batted .302, and scored 101 runs. Doby topped the circuit with 32 homers and 104 runs scored, knocked in another 104 runs, and batted .276. Easter finished second to his teammate with 31 homers and drove in 97 runs. Mitchell finished second in the league with a .323 batting average. Avila batted an even .300 and scored 102 runs.
Meanwhile, Cleveland’s starting rotation included three 20-game winners for the second year in a row. Early Wynn compiled a 2.90 ERA and finished second in the league with 23 victories, en route to earning a fifth-place finish in the MVP voting. Mike Garcia finished 22-11, placed second in the league with a 2.37 ERA and 292 innings pitched, and tied for the league lead with six shutouts. Bob Lemon posted an identical 22-11 record, compiled a 2.50 ERA, and led all A.L. hurlers with 28 complete games and 310 innings pitched.
Nevertheless, the Yankees equaled their own American League mark by winning their fourth straight pennant. New York finished second in the league to Cleveland with 727 runs scored and ended up allowing the fewest runs of any team in the league (557), en route to compiling a circuit-best 3.14 team ERA. Taking over in center field for the retired Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle had a solid sophomore campaign, hitting 23 home runs, knocking in 87 runs, scoring 94 others, and batting .311. Yogi Berra clearly established himself as New York’s offensive leader in DiMaggio’s absence, hitting 30 homers, driving in 98 runs, scoring 97 others, and batting .273. Mantle and Berra finished third and fourth, respectively, in the league MVP balloting.
Placing second in the voting was the man who anchored New York’s league-leading pitching staff. Allie Reynolds had the finest season of his career, compiling a record of 20-8, throwing 24 complete games, tying for the league lead with six shutouts, and leading all A.L. hurlers with a 2.06 ERA and 160 strikeouts.
New York’s quest for a record-tying fourth consecutive world championship was met with a great deal of resistance by the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series. The Dodgers took a three-games-to-two lead in the Fall Classic, with the remaining games scheduled to be played in Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field. Duke Snider nearly won Game Six single-handedly, accounting for both Brooklyn runs with a pair of homers. But the Yankees and Vic Raschi came out on top by a score of 3-2 after Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle hit home runs in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively. Mantle’s sixth-inning solo shot put the Yankees ahead to stay in the decisive seventh contest, with reliever Bob Kuzava preserving New York’s 4-2 lead by retiring the last eight Dodger batters. Yankee second baseman Billy Martin saved the day by making a lunging, knee-high catch of a wind-blown infield popup off the bat of Jackie Robinson with two men out and the bases loaded. Johnny Mize earned Series MVP honors by hitting three home runs, driving in six runs, and batting .400.
Other notable events from around the league and players who distinguished themselves over the course of the season included:
• April 23 - Bob Cain and the St. Louis Browns defeated Bob Feller and the Cleveland Indians, 1–0, in a game in which both pitchers threw a one-hitter.
• April 30 - Ted Williams hit a two-run home run to break a 3-3 tie on "Ted Williams Day" at Fenway Park. The contest marked Williams' final game of the season before his departure for the Korean War to serve as a Marine fighter pilot.
• May 29 - Boston Red Sox pitcher Mickey McDermott faced 27 batters and fired a one-hitter to beat the Washington Senators, 1–0, at Fenway Park. Mel Hoderlein's fourth-inning single proved to be Washington's only hit. Hoderlein was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double.
• November 30 – On a local New York TV program, Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers accused New York Yankee management of being racist for failing to bring up a black player. Yankees executive George Weiss subsequently denied the allegations.
• Philadelphia’s Ferris Fain won his second consecutive American League batting title with a mark of .327.
• Philadelphia's Harry Byrd captured A.L. Rookie of the Year honors.
• Philadelphia’s Bobby Shantz won the A.L. MVP Award. The left-hander finished 24-7, with a 2.48 ERA, 27 complete games, 280 innings pitched, five shutouts, and a league-leading .774 winning percentage for the fourth-place Athletics.
• Virgil Trucks of Detroit no-hit Washington 1-0 on May 15.
• Trucks tossed his second no-hitter of the season against the Yankees on August 25, blanking New York 1-0.
• Walt Dropo tied a major league record with 12 hits in 12 consecutive at-bats.
• The Hall of Fame inducted Harry Heilmann and Paul Waner.
More From Around the Web
Hugh McQuillan and Heinie Mueller combine to ...
On August 30, 2006, Boston right-hander Curt Schilling fans ...
On August 30, 1999, Edgardo Alfonzo of the New York Mets bec ...
- Al Rosen, Allie Reynolds, American League, Billy Martin, Bob Cain, Bob Feller, Bob Kuzava, Bob Lemon, Bobby Avila, Bobby Brown, Bobby Shantz, Casey Stengel, Cleveland Indians, Dale Mitchell, Duke Snider, Early Wynn, Ed Lopat, Ferris Fain, George Weiss, Harry Byrd, Harry Heilmann, Jackie Robinson, Jerry Coleman, Joe DiMaggio, Johnny Mize, Larry Doby, Luke Easter, Mel Hoderlein, Mickey Mantle, Mickey McDermott, Mike Garcia, New York Yankees, Paul Waner, Ted Williams, Vic Raschi, Virgil Trucks, Walt Dropo, Yogi Berra