The Yankees entered the 1952 season hoping to equal the major league record they set 13 years earlier by winning their fourth consecutive world championship. However, they knew they would have to do so without the great Joe DiMaggio, who announced his retirement at the conclusion of the 1951 campaign. Although Mickey Mantle failed to live up to the expectations everyone set for him the previous year, he appeared to be the team’s next superstar in-waiting. The 20-year-old Mantle needed to mature rapidly, though, since he had some pretty big shoes to fill.
New York also had to play without the services of Whitey Ford for the second consecutive year, since the young left-hander had one more year left on his military commitment. Jerry Coleman joined Ford in the service shortly after the regular season got underway, leaving Billy Martin to assume the starting job at second base.
Undeterred by the winds of change that surrounded them, the Yankees went on to capture their fourth straight American League pennant, finishing the season with a record of 95-59, just two games ahead of the second-place Cleveland Indians. New York placed second in the junior circuit with 727 runs scored, while permitting the opposition to cross the plate only 557 times, en route to compiling a league-best team ERA of 3.14.
The Yankee pitching staff was led by Allie Reynolds, who had the finest season of his career. Reynolds finished 20-8, threw 24 complete games, and led the league with a 2.06 ERA, 160 strikeouts, and six shutouts. The right-hander’s exceptional performance earned him a second-place finish in the A.L. MVP voting. Vic Raschi also had a solid year, going 16-6, with a 2.78 ERA and 13 complete games. Eddie Lopat chipped in with 10 victories and placed among the league leaders with a 2.53 ERA. Former Boston Braves ace Johnny Sain won 11 games and saved seven others, working primarily out of the bullpen.
Although no Yankee player knocked in as many as 100 runs, the team had a well-balanced offensive attack. Outfielder Hank Bauer, who served as New York’s leadoff hitter, batted .293, hit 17 homers, knocked in 74 runs, and scored 86 others. Fellow outfielder Gene Woodling finished second on the team with a .309 batting average and led the squad with a .397 on-base percentage. Phil Rizzuto scored 89 runs, while Mickey Mantle rebounded from his disappointing rookie campaign by hitting 23 home runs, driving in 87 runs, scoring 94 others, and leading the team with a .311 batting average, 171 hits, and 37 doubles, en route to earning a third-place finish in the league MVP voting. Yogi Berra finished right behind Mantle, in fourth place in the balloting. The reigning A.L. MVP batted .273 and led New York with 30 home runs, 98 runs batted in, and 97 runs scored. Mantle, Berra, Rizzuto, Bauer, Reynolds, Raschi, and McDougald all earned spots on the American League All-Star squad. Mantle, Berra, Rizzuto, and Reynolds also were named to The Sporting News All-Star Team.
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 Fall Classic turned out to be a see-saw affair in which the Dodgers took Games One, Three, and Five, while the Yankees came out on top in Games Two, Four, and Six. The heroes of the decisive seventh contest, played in Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field, turned out to be Mickey Mantle and Bob Kuzava. Mantle hit his third home run of the Series in the sixth inning, to put the Yankees ahead to stay, while Kuzava came out of the bullpen to retire the final eight Dodger batters in preserving New York’s 4-2 victory. Johnny Mize earned Series MVP honors for hitting three home runs, driving in six runs, and batting .400.By Bob_Cohen
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- Allie Reynolds, Billy Martin, Bob Kuzava, Brooklyn Dodgers, Ed Lopat, Gene Woodling, Gil McDougald, Hank Bauer, Jerry Coleman, Joe DiMaggio, Johnny Mize, Johnny Sain, Mickey Mantle, New York Yankees, Phil Rizzuto, Vic Raschi, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra