1949 World Series
After nine unsuccessful seasons with both Boston and Brooklyn (in which he never finished higher than fifth), manager Casey Stengel finally had success in the minors while coaching Oakland to the Pacific Coast League pennant in 1948. Shortly after, he was called up to replace Bucky Harris as the Yankees skipper in what would become the start of a long-standing... and winning relationship. New York, who had fallen from first to third under Harris, responded to Stengel's appointment by winning their sixteenth American League pennant and doing so in dramatic fashion. Stengel's team trailed Boston by one game as manager Joe McCarthy's Red Sox arrived at Yankee Stadium for a season-closing two-game set, but the Yankees swept them in classic "Curse of the Bambino" fashion. Across-town the Brooklyn Dodgers were "cutting it close" as well while managing to beat the St. Louis Cardinals (by one game) in the National League pennant race.
Don Newcombe, who had a 17-8 record as a Dodgers rookie in 1949, drew the start and did all he could to spoil Stengel's debut. Through eight innings of Game 1, Newcombe struck out eleven Yankees, walked no one, surrendered only four hits and had not permitted a run. Pitching rival Allie Reynolds wasn't far behind with nine strikeouts, four walks, two hits and no runs. Reynolds managed to retire the order in the ninth on a grounder, popup and fly ball, but Newcombe was not as lucky as the Yankees' Tommy Henrich put one in the right field stands for the win. The Dodgers answered the close Yankees' triumph the next day with a Game 2 nailbiter of their own. Preacher Roe outpitched Vic Raschi for the 1-0 win and Gil Hodges singling home Jackie Robinson, who had doubled, in the second inning.
The tensions continued in the third game as both teams remained locked in a 1-1 stalemate through the eighth. Former National League slugger Johnny Mize, (purchased in August from the New York Giants), knocked a bases-loaded single off Dodger starter Ralph Branca in the top of the ninth for the 3-1 Yankee lead and Jerry Coleman followed with a run-scoring single off reliever Jack Banta. New York's Joe Page, having pitched 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief since taking over for Tommy Byrne in the fourth, shouldered that lead into the Dodgers' half of the inning. Page was rocked for two home runs, the first a one-out shot by Luis Olmo, who hit one homer for Brooklyn in the regular season, and the second a two-out smash by Roy Campanella. But no one was on base either time, and Page and the Yankees hung on for a 4-3 victory.
In Game 4, the Yankees drove Newcombe from the mound with a three-run, fourth (Cliff Mapes supplied the key hit with a two-run double) and then got three more in the fifth when Bobby Brown drilled a bases-loaded triple off Joe Hatten. Brooklyn answered back with four runs in the sixth off Eddie Lopat. Reynolds came to the rescue by retiring Brooklyn's final ten batters and New York, a 6-4 winner, was one victory from their twelfth World Series title.
Determined to finish the job, the Bronx Bombers ended all the trends and came out swinging in Game 5. The Yankee sluggers scored in five of the first six innings and promptly built a 10-2 lead. Gil Hodges' three-run homer in the Dodgers' four-run, seventh cut into the deficit, but Page's relief work in place of Vic Raschi shut down Brooklyn's batters. In the end, the Yankees prevailed 10-6 with Coleman driving in three runs and Brown and DiMaggio both collecting two RBIs each. "Joe D", (who missed half of the season because of an injury, but still batted .346 with sixty-seven RBIs in seventy-six regular-season games), struggled overall in the Series, but added a bases-empty homer in the fourth. Although it was the Yankees twelfth World Series title, it was Casey Stengel's first and there were many more to come.