After placing second in the National League the previous season, just one game behind the first-place Brooklyn Dodgers, the Braves won their first pennant in the city of Milwaukee in 1957, finishing the campaign with a record of 95-59, eight games ahead of the runner-up St. Louis Cardinals. The aging Dodgers slipped to third, 11 games off the pace.
Having managed the Pittsburgh Pirates to three straight last-place finishes prior to taking over as Braves skipper midway through the 1956 season, Fred Haney found the situation in Milwaukee much more to his liking. Haney piloted a team that combined solid hitting with the league’s deepest pitching staff to capture just the third title in franchise history, and its first since leaving Boston.
Warren Spahn anchored Milwaukee’s starting rotation, compiling a record of 21-11, a 2.69 ERA, 271 innings pitched, and a league-leading 18 complete games, en route to winning the Cy Young Award, presented at that time to the major leagues' most outstanding pitcher. Spahn received ample support from Bob Buhl and Lew Burdette. Buhl finished 18-7 with a 2.74 ERA, while Burdette posted 17 wins and threw 257 innings.
Although the Braves lost both Joe Adcock and Bill Bruton for extended periods of time on offense, they nevertheless managed to lead the league with 772 runs scored. Outfielder Wes Covington picked up much of the slack, hitting 21 homers and driving in 65 runs, in only 328 official at-bats. Eddie Mathews had a big year, hitting 32 home runs, knocking in 94 runs, scoring 109 others, batting .292, and compiling a .387 on-base percentage. Hank Aaron earned league MVP honors, gaining national prominence for the first time by batting .322 and topping the circuit with 44 home runs, 132 runs batted in, 118 runs scored, and 369 total bases. Aaron edged out the Cardinals’ Stan Musial in the MVP balloting.
The World Series opened in New York, with Whitey Ford out-pitching Warren Spahn in Game One by tossing a complete-game five-hitter during a 3-1 Yankee win. The Braves took the second game behind Lew Burdette's 4-2 complete-game effort. Tony Kubek hit two home runs for New York during a 12-3 Yankee victory in Game Three after the Series shifted to Milwaukee. But the Braves evened the Series the next day when Eddie Mathews delivered a game-winning three-run homer in the 10th inning.
Milwaukee went ahead in the Series for the first time when Lew Burdette out-dueled Whitey Ford 1-0 in Game Five. However, New York took Game Six by a score of 3-2, setting the stage for a decisive Game Seven at Yankee Stadium. Working on only two days’ rest, Burdette pitched his third complete game of the Series, shutting out the Yankees 5-0, to give the Braves their only world championship while playing in the city of Milwaukee. The Braves’ victory marked the first time since 1948 that a team from New York failed to win the World Series.
The city of New York lost more than just the world championship that year. Citing inefficient ballparks and a lack of parking facilities, the owners of the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants elected to move their teams to California at season's end.
The Giants’ move to San Francisco denied New York fans the privilege of watching the great Willie Mays for the next 15 years. In the prime of his career in 1957, the “Say Hey Kid” still had many outstanding seasons ahead of him. In his final year in New York, Mays hit 35 home runs, drove in 97 runs, scored 112 others, batted .333, and led the league with 20 triples and 38 stolen bases.
Ernie Banks also had a big year for the Chicago Cubs. Although the Cubs finished last in the National League, Banks hit 43 home runs, knocked in 102 runs, scored 113 others, and batted .285.
Stan Musial had an equally productive year for the second-place Cardinals, hitting 29 homers, driving in 102 runs, and leading the league with a .351 batting average.
Other outstanding performers, notable events, and points of interest from around the league follow:
• Philadelphia’s Jack Sanford earned N.L. Rookie of the Year honors.
• Ted Kluszewski suffered a back injury that prevented him from ever again being an elite slugger.
• April 22 - John Irvin Kennedy became the first black player in Philadelphia Phillies history, entering the game in the top of the eighth inning as a pinch runner for Solly Hemus. Kennedy’s presence on the Philadelphia roster made the Phillies the last National League team to break the color barrier.
• May 28 - The National League approved the proposed moves of the Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers to the West Coast.
• May 29 - New York City mayor Robert Wagner said that he planned to confer with the Giants and Dodgers about their proposed moves, but that he did not intend to allow the city to be "blackjacked" into anything.
• May 30 – Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley rejected an offer from a Queens group to buy the Dodgers.
• July 9 - At Sportsman's Park, home of the St. Louis Cardinals, the American League defeated the National League, 6-5, in the All-Star Game. Seven Cincinnati Reds — Ed Bailey, Gus Bell, Don Hoak, Roy McMillan, Wally Post, Frank Robinson and Johnny Temple — were initially "voted" on to the N.L. squad as starters by balloting-stuffing Reds’ fans. First baseman George Crowe was the only Reds player not voted on as a starter, having finished behind hometown favorite Stan Musial in the balloting. Commissioner Ford Frick removed Bell and Post from the starting lineup and replaced them with Hank Aaron and Willie Mays; Bell remained on the team as a reserve, but Post was taken off altogether.
• July 18 – Giants owner Horace Stoneham announced he intended to take his team out of New York after the season. He said that he hadn’t heard anything more from San Francisco and that his move was not contingent on that of the Dodgers. Stoneham suggested that a new stadium for his team or joint occupancy with the New York Yankees would be the only things that could cause him to remain in New York.
• August 19 – With Stoneham citing poor attendance as the reason for the Giants' move, the team's board of directors voted 8-1 to move to California in 1958, as San Francisco promised a new stadium in the Bayview area. The only dissenting vote was turned in by M. Donald Grant, who later became one of the founders of the New York Mets.
• September 24 – The Dodgers played their last game at Brooklyn's Ebbets Field, defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates by a score of 2-0 before 6,702 Dodger fans. Gil Hodges drove in the final run.
• September 29 - With 1895 Giants manager Jack Doyle among the 11,606 looking on, the Giants lost their last game at the Polo Grounds to the Pittsburgh Pirates by a score of 9-1. Pirates pitcher Bob Friend defeated Johnny Antonelli in the historic contest, with fans storming the field for souvenirs as soon as Dusty Rhodes grounded to Pittsburgh shortstop Dick Groat for the final out.
• October 7 - The Los Angeles City Council approved the Chavez Ravine site for Dodger Stadium by a vote of 10 to 4. The National League failed to field a New York team again until 1962.
• October 8 - Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley announced that the Dodgers would be moving to Los Angeles for the 1958 season.
More From Around the Web
On April 27, 2003, Phillies' righty Kevin Millwood no-hits t ...
On April 27, 2002, Derek Lowe becomes the first pitcher to t ...
On April 27, 1996, Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants b ...
- 1957 World Series, Bill Bruton, Bob Buhl, Brooklyn Dodgers, Eddie Mathews, Ernie Banks, Fred Haney, Gil Hodges, Hank Aaron, Horace Stoneham, Jack Sanford, Joe Adcock, John Kennedy, Lew Burdette, Milwaukee Braves, New York Giants, Solly Hemus, Stan Musial, Ted Kluszewski, Tony Kubek, Warren Spahn, Wes Covington, Willie Mays