Cleveland’s Al Rosen had one of the greatest seasons by any American League third baseman in history in 1953, when he captured league MVP honors by topping the circuit with 43 home runs, 145 runs batted in, and 115 runs scored. By also finishing just one point behind Mickey Vernon in the batting race with a mark of .336, Rosen just missed winning the Triple Crown. However, the third baseman’s extraordinary performance wasn’t enough to overcome New York’s exceptional team balance, as the Yankees established a new major league record by winning their fifth consecutive league championship. New York finished the season with a record of 99-52, 8 ½ games ahead of the second-place Indians. The Chicago White Sox finished third, 11 ½ games off the pace.
Perhaps the strongest pennant-winning ball club managed by Casey Stengel, the 1953 Yankees led the American League with 801 runs scored and also surrendered the fewest runs of any team in the junior circuit (547). Returning to New York from his two-year military commitment, Whitey Ford led the team’s deep pitching staff with a record of 18-6 and 11 complete games, while also compiling an ERA of 3.00. Crafty left-hander Ed Lopat finished 16-4 with a league-leading 2.42 ERA. Vic Raschi posted 13 victories, while spot-starters/long relievers Allie Reynolds and Johnny Sain won 13 and 14 games, respectively. Reynolds also finished among the league leaders with 13 saves.
The Yankees also had a considerable amount of depth in their lineup. Second baseman Billy Martin had his finest offensive season, hitting 15 home runs, driving in 75 runs, and scoring 72 others. Third baseman Gil McDougald batted .285, knocked in 83 runs, and finished second on the team with 82 runs scored. Leadoff hitter Hank Bauer batted .304 and scored 77 runs. Gene Woodling led the team with a .306 batting average and a .429 on-base percentage. Mickey Mantle hit 21 home runs, drove in 92 runs, batted .295, and finished third in the league with 105 runs scored. Yogi Berra batted .296 and led the team with 27 homers and 108 runs batted in, en route to earning a second-place finish to Rosen in the A.L. MVP voting.
The Yankees faced a true test in the World Series, going up against a Brooklyn Dodgers team that posted 105 victories during the regular season. After New York took a two-games-to-none lead in the Fall Classic, Brooklyn fought back to win the next two contests by scores of 3-2 and 7-3. However, the Yankees overpowered the Dodgers in Game Five by a score of 11-7, behind home runs by Woodling, Mantle, Martin, and McDougald. They then won their major-league record fifth straight world championship by defeating the Dodgers in Game Six on an RBI single by Billy Martin in the bottom of the ninth inning. Martin earned Series MVP honors by collecting 12 hits, batting .500, hitting two home runs, and driving in eight runs.
Other notable events from around the league and players who distinguished themselves over the course of the season included:
• April 17 - Mickey Mantle hit the longest measured home run in history when he drove a pitch from Washington’s Chuck Stobbs some 565 feet from home plate, completely out of Griffith Stadium.
• May 6 - At Sportsman's Park, Bobo Holloman of the St. Louis Browns became the only pitcher ever to toss a no-hitter in his first major league start, as he shut out Philadelphia 6-0. Holloman won only two more games in his brief major league career.
• June 3 - Congress cited the research of New York City librarian Robert Henderson in proving that Alexander Cartwright "founded" baseball and not Abner Doubleday. Henderson’s 1947 book “Bat, Ball and Bishop” documented Cartwright's contributions to the origins of the game of baseball.
• September 13 - Pitcher Bob Trice became the first black player in Philadelphia Athletics history.
• October 7 – Facing dwindling attendance and revenue, Bill Veeck was forced to sell the St. Louis Browns to a Baltimore-based group led by attorney Clarence Miles and brewer Jerry Hoffberger. The Browns moved to Baltimore the following season and subsequently became known as the Orioles.
• Detroit Tigers rookie shortstop Harvey Kuenn led the league with 209 hits, en route to winning A.L. Rookie of the Year honors.
• Washington’s Mickey Vernon won his second American League batting title with a mark of .337. He also knocked in 115 runs, scored 101 others, collected 205 hits, and led the league with 43 doubles.
• On June 18, the Red Sox sent a record 23 men to the plate in the seventh inning, en route to scoring an all-time record 17 runs. Gene Stephens became the only player in modern major league history to collect three hits in one inning.
• Washington's Bob Porterfield led the American League with 22 wins, 24 complete games, and nine shutouts.
• Philadelphia’s Gus Zernial batted .284 and placed among the league leaders with 42 home runs and 108 runs batted in.
• Chicago’s Minnie Minoso batted .313, knocked in 104 runs, scored 104 others, and led the league with 25 stolen bases.
• Cleveland’s Larry Doby hit 29 home runs, drove in 102 runs, and scored 92 others.
• The Hall of Fame inducted Dizzy Dean, Al Simmons, Ed Barrow, Chief Bender, Tommy Connolly, Bill Klem, Bobby Wallace, and Harry Wright.
More From Around the Web
On March 31, 1996, the Seattle Mariners and Chicago White So ...
On March 31, 1982, the Montreal Expos acquire first baseman- ...
On March 31, 1980, the Montreal Expos trade outfielder-first ...
- 1953 World Series, Al Rosen, Allie Reynolds, American League, Bill Veeck, Billy Martin, Bob Lemon, Bob Porterfield, Bob Trice, Bobo Holloman, Brooklyn Dodgers, Casey Stengel, Chuck Stobbs, Ed Lopat, Gene Stephens, Gene Woodling, Gil McDougald, Gus Zernial, Hank Bauer, Harvey Kuenn, Johnny Sain, Larry Doby, Mickey Mantle, Mickey Vernon, Minnie Minoso, New York Yankees, Vic Raschi, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra