By Marty Appel
Wasn’t it just yesterday that everyone was saying “oh, there will never be another dynasty in baseball; too many teams, too many rounds of playoffs. The dynasty days are over.”
Hello. The 2002 Yankees are going for their fifth straight A.L. pennant, something that has happened only twice before in Major League history – and both times, of course, by the Yankees.
The 1949-53 Yanks not only won five in a row, but all were World Championships. Then the 1960-64 Yankees took five straight under three different managers, twice raising world championship flags.
(By the way, none of those ten teams ever had a ticker tape parade, but then again, Mayors O’Dwyer, Impellitteri and Wagner weren’t the Yankee fans that Mayor Giuliani was).
Interestingly, nearly half the rosters of those two dynasties stayed to collect all five rings – 11 players from each. From 1949-53, there were Joe Collins, Phil Rizzuto, Hank Bauer, Gene Woodling, Yogi Berra, Johnny Mize, Jerry Coleman, Charlie Silvera, Vic Raschi, Allie Reynolds, and Ed Lopat.
There were also eleven players who claimed five rings from 1960-64 – Bobby Richardson, Tony Kubek, Clete Boyer, Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, Elston Howard, Hector Lopez, Johnny Blanchard, Whitey Ford, Bill Stafford, and Ralph Terry.
Frank Crosetti, of course, coached third for all those teams. Ten rings. Yogi was there the whole time as well, but was a manager in ’64. Got his ring. (Ask him to show it to you if he can fish it out – as a player, coach and manager, with the Yankees and Mets, including All-Star Games and the Hall of Fame, Yogi has more than 40 rings).
The current team may enter 2002 with between eight and ten “fivers,” not bad in the age of free agency.
While the ‘49-’53 Yankees were enjoying the first five years of Casey Stengel’s reign, the current crop has had one manager, Joe Torre, who, like Stengel, went from a rather undistinguished National League managing career to achieve success that may well send him to the Hall of Fame. For both, the respect and honors came late in their careers.
By contrast, things were a bit more muddled with the ‘60-’64 group. Stengel was dismissed after the 1960 series when he failed to bring home the World Championship in that memorable World Series against Pittsburgh. (An amazing fact about the final game is at the end of this story). Ralph Houk, the team’s old bullpen catcher, quickly moved from Denver manager to first base coach and to Yankee manager in 1961, stayed for three seasons, and then went to the front office to become general manager. (Another amazing fact about the ’61 Yanks follows).
Yogi was elevated from player/coach to manager for ’64, and promptly won the team’s fifth straight flag, before he himself was replaced by Johnny Keane. Then the pennants dried up for a dozen years, in part due to the failure of the farm system to continue delivering fine home grown talent. Seventeen of the 22 players named on the ‘49-’53 and ‘60-’64 rosters – 77% – were products of the system, and played ball the Yankee way. It remains a remarkable tribute to the entire scouting and player development system of the Yankees.
Will the current team tie the all-time record for consecutive pennants? (A third amazing fact follows). If so, it will surely please those who have come before – it will be a matter of keeping it “all in the family.”
Oh yes – your amazing facts, as promised.
First, there has only been one game in the entire history of the World Series, in which neither team had a strikeout. Would you believe it was the fabled Game Seven of the 1960 Fall Classic, won by Pittsburgh 10-9?
Second, although renowned for being the mighty Bronx Bombers and playing with that friendly right field grandstand – the Yankees have not led the league in home runs since 1961, the year they set the homer record with 240. Forty-one seasons!
And finally, as amazing as five straight pennants are, then or now, consider this: the Yankees of 1936-43 would have won eight straight under Joe McCarthy had they not lost by just two games to Detroit in 1940.