After finishing third in the American League the previous season, the Yankees captured their first pennant under new manager Casey Stengel in 1949, edging out the Boston Red Sox by just one game, with a record of 97-57.  Back-to-back victories over the Red Sox on the season’s final two days enabled the Yankees to advance to the World Series for the second time in three years. 

Although the Yankees had one of the American League’s best lineups, their ability to edge  out Boston for the pennant could be attributed largely to their pitching staff, which posted a team ERA of 3.69 – the second-lowest in the American League.  Vic Raschi led the starters with 21 victories, 21 complete games, and 275 innings pitched.  Eddie Lopat finished 15-10, with a 3.26 ERA and 14 complete games.  Allie Reynolds placed second on the staff with 17 wins, while Tommy Byrne posted 15 victories.  Meanwhile, Joe Page excelled out of the bullpen, winning 13 games and leading the league with 27 saves, en route to earning a third-place finish in the A.L. MVP voting.

New York’s opponents in the Fall Classic were once again the Brooklyn Dodgers, who finished the regular season with an identical 97-57 record.  The Dodgers also had to wait until the season’s final days to lay claim to the National League pennant, finishing just one game ahead of the second-place St. Louis Cardinals

Brooklyn’s powerful offense, which led the senior circuit with 879 runs scored, was led by Duke Snider, Carl Furillo, Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese, and Jackie Robinson.  In his breakout season, Snider hit 23 homers, drove in 92 runs, scored 100 others, and batted .292.  Furillo hit 18 homers, knocked in 106 runs, scored 95 others, and placed among the league leaders with a .322 batting average.  Hodges hit 23 home runs, drove in 115 runs, and batted .285.  Reese batted .279, finished second in the league with 26 stolen bases, and topped the circuit with 132 runs scored, en route to earning a fifth-place finish in the N.L. MVP voting.  Robinson captured N.L. MVP honors by leading the league with a .342 batting average and 37 stolen bases, and placing among the leaders with 124 runs batted in, 122 runs scored, 203 hits, 38 doubles, 12 triples, a .432 on-base percentage, and a .528 slugging percentage.

The World Series, which most people expected to be closely contested, lived up to everyone’s expectations in the early going, with the two teams trading 1-0 victories in the first two contests.  Yankee starter Allie Reynolds out-dueled Don Newcombe in Game One, allowing the Dodgers just two hits.  The Yankees scored the game’s only run on a leadoff homer by Tommy Henrich in the bottom of the ninth inning.

The Dodgers returned the favor the following day, with Brooklyn hurler Preacher Roe making a second-inning run against Vic Raschi stand up.  Both starters went the distance.    

Pitching once again dominated in Game Three, with New York and Brooklyn entering the ninth inning tied 1-1.  However, the Yankees finally broke through against Dodger starter Ralph Branca, scoring three times to take a 4-1 lead.  Yankee reliever Joe Page, who had held Brooklyn scoreless since coming on with the bases loaded in the fourth inning, subsequently tired in the bottom of the inning, allowing solo home runs by Luis Olmo and Roy Campanella before getting the game’s final out.

The Yankees took command of the Series in Game Four, scoring six times before the Dodgers scored four runs of their own in the bottom of the sixth inning, en route to posting a 6-4 victory.  Allie Reynolds preserved the win with 3 1/3 innings of no-hit relief.

The Yankees erupted for 10 runs in the first six innings of Game Five, and then held on for a Series-clinching 10-6 victory.  Joe Page preserved the victory by getting the last seven outs without allowing a run.  The Yankee reliever pitched exceptionally well throughout the Fall Classic, earning a victory, allowing only six hits in nine innings of work, and compiling a 2.00 ERA.  Allie Reynolds was even better, going 1-0, throwing 12 1/3 scoreless innings, and allowing the Dodgers only two hits.

By Bob_Cohen
1949 World Series, Allie Reynolds, Brooklyn Dodgers, Carl Furillo, Casey Stengel, Don Newcombe, Duke Snider, Ebbets Field, Ed Lopat, Gil Hodges, Jackie Robinson, Joe DiMaggio, Joe Page, Luis Olmo, New York Yankees, Pee Wee Reese, Preacher Roe, Ralph Branca, Roy Campanella, Tommy Byrne, Tommy Henrich, Vic Raschi, Yankee Stadium
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