New York Yankees
New York Yankees
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After failing to win the pennant for the third consecutive time and losing their longtime manager Joe McCarthy in the process the previous season, the Yankees turned to Bucky Harris prior to the start of the 1947 campaign. The 50-year-old Harris, a former second baseman for Washington, led the Senators to back-to-back pennants and one world championship while serving as their player/manager from 1924 to 1928. He later managed the Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox, and Philadelphia Phillies, before being assigned the task of restoring the Yankees to their rightful place atop the American League.
In addition to hiring Harris to manage the team, the Yankee front office made several other moves during the off-season. Almost immediately after the 1946 campaign ended, the club dealt second baseman Joe Gordon to the Cleveland Indians for right-handed pitcher Allie Reynolds. Although the hard-throwing Reynolds compiled a record of only 11-15 for the Indians the previous year, he won as many as 18 games for them in 1945, and the Yankees thought he had the ability to be a top-flight starter. Furthermore, the Yankees had George Stirnweiss waiting in the wings to take over at second base for Gordon.
The Yankees also signed veteran George McQuinn to play first base for them. The Philadelphia Athletics released the 37-year-old McQuinn following the conclusion of the 1946 season, and the Yankees thought his solid left-handed bat and outstanding glove might help them. In addition, the team promoted Yogi Berra, 22-year-old third baseman Bobby Brown, and 26-year-old starter Spec Shea to the major-league roster prior to the start of the regular season.
Shortly after the season got underway, the Yankees held a ceremony at Yankee Stadium on April 27th for Babe Ruth, who had been ill for quite some time. Addressing a capacity crowd of more than 60,000 people on “Babe Ruth Day,” Ruth spoke from the heart of his enthusiasm for the game of baseball, and in support of the youth playing the game. He made only two more appearances at The House That Ruth Built before he passed away on August 16, 1948.
Meanwhile, the many moves the Yankees made during the off-season ended up paying huge dividends for them. Splitting time with Aaron Robinson behind the plate, Berra batted .280, hit 11 homers, and drove in 54 runs, in just under 300 official at-bats. Backing up Billy Johnson at third while also serving as a left-handed pinch-hitter off the bench, Brown batted an even .300. McQuinn earned All-Star honors by batting .304, hitting 13 homers, and driving in 80 runs. Shea turned out to be the biggest surprise of all, with the rookie right-hander going 14-5 with a 3.07 ERA. Meanwhile, Allie Reynolds established himself as the ace of the staff, compiling a record of 19-8, a 3.20 ERA, and 17 complete games.
The Yankees also received significant contributions from several of their veteran players. Spud Chandler finished 9-5, with a 2.46 ERA and 13 complete games. Joe Page won 14 games coming out of the bullpen, compiled a 2.48 ERA, and led the league with 17 saves.
On offense, Tommy Henrich batted .287, hit 16 homers, and led the team with 98 runs batted in and 109 runs scored. Billy Johnson batted .285 and knocked in 95 runs. George Stirnweiss scored 102 runs. Although he failed to compile the lofty numbers he typically posted before entering the service, Joe DiMaggio bounced back somewhat from his subpar 1946 campaign by batting .315, hitting 20 home runs, driving in 97 runs, and scoring 97 others. His solid performance helped lead the Yankees to a regular-season record of 97-57 and a first-place finish in the American League. The Detroit Tigers finished a distant second, 12 games back in the standings. With New York capturing the pennant, the members of the BBWAA elected DiMaggio league MVP in an extremely close vote over Ted Williams, who won the A.L. Triple Crown for the second time in his career. DiMaggio also earned All-Star honors for the ninth time in as many seasons. McQuinn, Johnson, Chandler, Henrich, Page, Robinson, Shea, and Keller joined him on the American League squad.
The Yankees subsequently faced the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series. After winning the first two games at home, the Yankees appeared to have the Fall Classic well in-hand. However, the pesky Dodgers took the next two contests played at Ebbets Field, winning Game Four on a two-out, two-run double by pinch-hitter Cookie Lavagetto in the bottom of the ninth inning, after being no-hit by Yankee starter Bill Bevens up to that point. The Yankees went on to win the Series in seven games, but Brooklyn outfielder Al Gionfriddo attained a degree of immortality in Game Six by making a circus catch against the Yankee bullpen in deep left-center field on a drive hit by Joe DiMaggio. New York finally prevailed in Game Seven behind an RBI single by Tommy Henrich and the stellar pitching of Joe Page.By Bob_Cohen