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Led by an absolutely phenomenal season by A.L. MVP Mickey Mantle, the Yankees won the American League pennant for the seventh time in eight years under manager Casey Stengel in 1956.  Mantle won the A.L. Triple Crown by hitting 52 home runs, knocking in 130 runs, and batting .353.  He also topped the junior circuit with 132 runs scored, 376 total bases, and a .705 slugging percentage, while placing second with 112 bases on balls and a .467 on-base percentage.  Mantle’s extraordinary performance enabled the Yankees to finish the regular season in first place with a record of 97-57, nine games ahead of the runner-up Cleveland Indians. 

Although Mantle clearly established himself over the course of the season as the game’s most dominant player, he received a considerable amount of help from his Yankee teammates along the way.  Yogi Berra earned a second-place finish in the league MVP voting by hitting 30 homers, driving in 105 runs, scoring 93 others, and batting .298.  Bill Skowron hit 23 home runs, knocked in 90 runs, and batted .308.  Hank Bauer hit 26 homers, drove in 84 runs, and scored 96 others.  

Yankee pitchers posted the second-lowest team ERA in the league – a mark of 3.63 that only Cleveland’s staff surpassed.  Whitey Ford pitched magnificently, finishing 19-6, with 18 complete games and a league-leading 2.47 ERA.  Second-year right-hander Johnny Kucks finished second to Ford on the staff with 18 victories, while Tom Sturdivant won 16 games and compiled a 3.30 ERA in his first full season.  Don Larsen and Bob Turley combined to win 19 games. 

Still, the Yankees knew they had to go through the defending world-champion Brooklyn Dodgers if they hoped to reclaim that cherished title for themselves.  The Dodgers won their sixth National League pennant in 10 seasons by barely edging out the Milwaukee Braves and the Cincinnati Reds for first place with a record of 93-61.  The Braves finished just one game back, while the Reds came in third, only two games behind.

While Cincinnati topped the senior circuit in runs scored and Milwaukee posted the lowest team ERA, Brooklyn was the league’s most well-balanced team, placing second in both categories.  Don Newcombe earned N.L. MVP and Cy Young honors by going 27-7, with a 3.06 ERA, 18 complete games, and 268 innings pitched.  Meanwhile, Duke Snider paced the offense with 43 home runs, 101 runs batted in, 112 runs scored, and a .292 batting average.

In what turned out to be very much the antithesis of the previous year’s World Series, the Dodgers won the first two games at home, before the Yankees stormed back to take the next three contests at Yankee Stadium.  Brooklyn starter Sal Maglie out-pitched Whitey Ford in Game One, with the Yankee left-hander exiting the contest early after surrendering five runs to the Dodgers over the first three innings.  Mickey Mantle and Billy Martin homered for New York, but it wasn’t enough to overcome earlier blasts by Jackie Robinson and Gil Hodges.  The Dodgers came out on top by a score of 6-3.

Yogi Berra’s grand slam highlighted a five-run second inning that sent Dodger ace Don Newcombe to an early shower in Game Two.  However, Brooklyn scored six times against three Yankee pitchers in the bottom half of the inning, en route to posting a 13-8 victory.

The Yankees got their first win of the Fall Classic after the Series shifted to Yankee Stadium for Game Three.  A solo homer by Billy Martin and a three-run blast by 40-year-old Enos Slaughter gave Whitey Ford all the runs he needed, as the left-hander went all the way for the 5-3 victory.  The Yankees evened the Series the following day behind the two-run, six-hit pitching of Tom Sturdivant.  Mantle and Bauer homered during the 6-2 victory.

The Yankees took a 3-2 lead in the Series in a memorable Game Five.  Using a no-windup delivery that made pitching look like a game of catch, Yankee right-hander Don Larsen needed only 97 pitches to throw the only perfect game in World Series history.  Brooklyn starter Sal Maglie surrendered only two runs and five hits to the Yankees, but one of those safeties was a solo home run by Mickey Mantle.  The Yankee centerfielder also helped preserve Larsen’s perfect game with a fine running catch in deep left-center field on a ball hit by Gil Hodges. 

Another pitcher’s duel ensued when the two teams returned to Ebbets Field for Game Six.  Neither New York’s Bob Turley nor Brooklyn’s Clem Labine allowed a runner to cross home plate until the bottom of the 10th inning, when Jackie Robinson lined a Turley pitch over the head of the left fielder, scoring Jim Gilliam from second base with the winning run.    

Game Seven provided no such suspense, with the Yankees jumping out to an early 5-0 lead against Dodger starter Don Newcombe.  A pair of two-run homers by Yogi Berra, a solo blast by Elston Howard, and a Bill Skowron grand slam accounted for all nine runs, as the Yankees captured their 17th world championship with a 9-0 victory.  Berra was the hitting star of the Series, batting .360, hitting three homers, and driving in 10 runs.  Mantle also homered three times.  But Series MVP honors went to Larsen for his amazing Game Five performance. 

By Bob_Cohen
 

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Tagged:
1956 World Series, Bill Skowron, Billy Martin, Bob Turley, Brooklyn Dodgers, Carl Erskine, Casey Stengel, Clem Labine, Don Larsen, Don Newcombe, Duke Snider, Ebbets Field, Elston Howard, Enos Slaughter, Gil Hodges, Gil McDougald, Hank Bauer, Jackie Robinson, Jim Gilliam, Johnny Kucks, Mickey Mantle, New York Yankees, Sal Maglie, Tom Sturdivant, Whitey Ford, Yankee Stadium, Yogi Berra
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