The Grudge World Series, Game Two

Game 1 of the 1958 World Series took 10 innings to decide; Game 2 was decided in the first inning when the Braves scored 7 runs. Yankee starter Bob Turley, the Cy Young award winner in 1958 (there was only one for the Major Leagues in those days) gave up a home run to Bill Bruton to start the game and, if anything, things went downhill from there. Turley was gone after facing 5 batters, only one of whom he retired. But the big blow, a three-run homer by Braves pitcher Lew Burdette, came off of reliever Duke Maas.

Burdette had won three games against the Yankees in 1957 including Game 7. I remember reading a piece that winter in a sports magazine called “To Beat The Yankees Forget The Book,” in which Burdette purported to explain how he had kept New York at bay by ignoring the conventional wisdom about how to pitch them. Whether the article contained any meaningful information, I can’t say. However, it may have made the Yankees even more determined to get revenge in 1958.

Down 7 runs, though, there was no revenge to be had. The final score, 13-5, was deceptive because the Yankees scored 3 runs in the ninth.

Burdette went the whole way. A modern manager would have pulled him, at the latest, after 7 innings when the Braves were up 10-2. After all, Burdette might be called on for two more starts as he had been in the ’57 Series. Braves skipper Fred Haney, who had been a teammate of Ty Cobb, wasn’t modern even by 1950s standards. However, in leaving Burdette on the mound he was not out of line with the practice of the day. Starters always wanted to “finish what they started” back then, and managers usually permitted them to, provided they were pitching well.

In any case, the three runs the Yanks scored off Burdette in the ninth exceeded their total output against him in the 27 innings he had pitched in the ’57 Series. Pehaps Burdette’s spell had been broken. Or maybe he had remembered “the book.”

But the Yankees were down two games to zero. Their only solace was that the Series was shifting to Yankee Stadium, and that when they played the Dodgers in 1955 and 1956, the team that lost the first two games on the “road” had come back to win the Series.

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