50 years ago today, the Milwaukee Braves hosted the New York Yankees in game one of their World Series re-match. The starter pitchers were Warren Spahn and Whitey Ford two of the five or so best left-handed starting pitchers in baseball history. The two hand gone head-to-head in game one the previous year with Ford winning 3-1. They hadn’t met since.
The starting lineups, which contained seven future Hall of Famers, will bring back sweet memories for fans of a certain age:
Hank Bauer rf
Gil McDougald 2B
Mickey Mantle cf
Elston Howard lf
Yogi Berra c
Bill Skowron 1B
Andy Carey 3B
Tony Kubek ss
Whitey Ford p
Red Schoendienst 2B
Johnny Logan ss
Eddie Mathews 3B
Hank Aaron rf
Joe Adcock 1B
Wes Covington lf
Del Crandall c
Andy Pafko ch
Warren Spahn p
The Yankees took a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the 8th inning. All of their runs had come on homers — a solo shot by Skowron in the 4th and a two-run job by Bauer in the 5th.
Ford walked Mathews to start the 8th; Aaron followed with a double which sent Mathews to third. With the dangerous right-handed hitting Adcock up next, Stengel pulled Ford and brought on his ace reliever Ryne Duren.
1958 was Duren’s first full year in the big leagues, but he was already something of a legend — the blazing speed, the thick glasses, and the wildness, which some said was partly a studied means of intimidation. He had led the American League in saves and his ERA was a microscopic (for relievers of that time) 2.01. (However, Dick Hyde of the Washington Senators had pitched to an even lower ERA and had recorded saves in a higher percentage of his team’s wins).
Duren fanned both Adcock and Crandall in the bottom of the 8th. In between, however, Covington managed a sacrifice fly that tied the game.
Neither team scored in the 9th, so the game went to extra innings. Stengel let Duren (who would bat .061 for his career) lead off the 10th. Spahn, still in the game, retired him on a comebacker. The Yankees would strand two runners that inning when Spahn fanned Howard (yes, Braves manager Haney stayed with his ace against the right-handed slugger with the game on the line in extra innings).
In the home 10th, Adcock singled off of Duren with one out, but Duren got Covington. Crandall kept the inning alive with a single. That brought up the left-handed hitting Bill Bruton who had batted for Pafko in the ninth with Ford out of the game. Bruton delievered the game winning hit.
The Yankees had waited a year for another shot at the Braves, but now Milwaukee led the Series 1-0.