|The Milwaukee Braves were one of baseball's premier teams in the 1950s. After coming within a game of winning the pennant in 1956, they won consecutive National League titles in 1957 and 1958, beating the Yankees in the '57 World Series but losing to New York in a thrilling 7-game series in '58.
The superb pitching of Lew Burdette enabled the Milwaukee Braves to win its first World Series championship in a brilliantly contested classic with the New York Yankees. Burdette posted three victories and hurled 24 consecutive scoreless innings to join the select ranks of World Series work horses (Illus. 1). Veteran Warren Spahn won Milwaukee's other game but it took a courageous comeback by his teammates to gain the decision. The Braves were superb on defense to upset the Yanks four games to three.
In an era of batting power, the right-hander racked up 4 to 2, 2 to 0, and 5 to 0 victories to become the first Series pitcher to turn in three complete-game triumphs since Stan Coveleski of the Cleveland Indians turned the trick against the Dodgers in 1920.
The Yankees, qualifying for their eighth Series appearance in nine seasons under Manager Casey Stengel, shook off the challenge of the White Sox to win the American League pennant by eight games.
Manager Fred Haney's Braves, after showing signs of weakening under the pressure of a drive by the Cardinals, finished strong in winning the National League flag by a similar margin of eight games (Illus. 2).
Opening the Series at Yankees Stadium, Whitey Ford sent the Bronx Bombers in front with a 3 to 1 victory over Spahn. The Braves avoided a shutout in the seventh when Wes Covington doubled and Red Schoendienst singled.
The Braves scored their winning runs in the fourth, breaking a 2-all deadlock. Joe Adcock and Andy Pafko singled. Covington, after fouling off two attempted bunts, looped a single into left-center, Adcock scored and Pafko also crossed the plate with an insurance run.
Burdette, who was traded by the Yankees to the Braves in a deal for Johnny Sain in 1951, appeared against the Yankees in the second game and started his amazing Series work with his 4 to 2 victory. Burdette pitched a five-hitter and a 4-2 victory (Series A - Lew Burdette)
A World Series record was set and two were tied in the game. The Braves left 14 men on base to match one mark and equaled another when their six pitchers issued 11 passes. Bob Turley and Don Larsen, who hurled for the Yankees, walked eight and the combined total of 19 for the two clubs set a Series record.
The fourth game on Sunday demonstrated the Braves spirit. After the Yanks scored in the first inning, the Braves exploded for four runs in the fourth inning off Tom Sturdivant on home runs by Hank Aaron and Frank Torre. (Series B - Hank Aaron)
Haney stuck with Spahn, pictured here in Illus. 3, even in the tenth, when Kubek beat out an infield hit and Bauer tripled to send the Yankees in front. However, in the home half, a bit of shoe polish helped make Series history.
Nippy Jones, batting for Spahn, was hit on the foot by a pitch thrown by Tommy Byrne, the Yankees' fourth pitcher in the game. However, umpire Augie Donatelli's view had been obstructed. Jones retrieved the ball and showed the ump a tell-tale smudge of black from the polish on his shoe.
Jones was waved to first as a hit batsman and Felix Mantilla came in to run for him. Bob Grim relieved Byrne. Johnny Logan greeted the change with a double, scoring Mantilla with the tying run. Eddie Mathews, as pictured here, then hit a homer to win the game 7 to 5. (Illus. 4).
It was Burdette's turn to pitch again in the fifth game on Monday, October 7, and the veteran right-hand pitcher gained his 1-0 victory in a magnificent duel with Ford. Burdette pitched a seven-hit 1-0 shutout to beat Ford and give the Braves a 3-2 Series lead. He stymied the Yanks with an array of sharp-breaking curveballs, sliders, screwballs, and sinkers, throwing them at varying speeds, and keeping the ball low.
The lone run scored after two were out in the sixth inning. Mathews beat out a two-hopper to Jerry Coleman, Aaron popped a single to short right field and Adcock lined a sharp single to right for the only run that Burdette needed. (Series C - Eddie Mathews)
In the Yankees' half of the seventh with Ernie Johnson on the mound in relief for the Braves, Hank Bauer belted the game-winning drive.
In normal rotation, the Braves would have started Spahn in the pay-off contest, but the lefthander had been felled by the flu. Manager Haney had no choice but to call on Burdette, with only two days of rest, and the right-hander rose to the occasion with his 5 to 0 triumph on Thursday, October 10. He pitched his second shutout and third complete game of the Series.
The Braves routed Larsen while scoring four runs in the fourth inning. Catcher Del Crandall wrapped up the day's scoring and the Series with a homer off Byrne, fifth Yankee pitcher, in the eighth inning. Crandall, who caught every inning of the '57 World Series, most ably handled the veteran Milwaukee pitching staff. The eight-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner threw out 45.44% of the base runners who tried to steal a base on him.
With the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the 9th, Mathews made a diving, backhanded stop of Bill Skowron's hard grounder and stepped on third base to give Milwaukee its first World Series baseball championship.
Following the final out, Crandall is pictured here hugging Burdette near the third base line, as Mathews runs quickly to join them (Illus. 6).
The city of Milwaukee and state of Wisconsin loved its Braves from the time the franchise transferred from Boston for the 1953 season. The Braves set a National League attendance record as 2,215,404 fans went through the turnstiles at County Stadium to see a team that went 95-59 in 1957.
Fred Haney, who took over as the Braves manager midway through the 1956 season, proved to be a sound, underrated manager, steering Milwaukee to two consecutive pennants.
Milwaukee took the National League pennant again in 1958 with a 92-62 record. Aaron had another standout year with 30 homers, 95 RBIs, and a .326 batting average, but the keys were Spahn (league-high 22 wins) and Burdette (20-10).
This story was compiled largely by Leonard Gettelson in Official World Series Records, published by The Sporting News, Charles C. Spink & Son, St. Louis, 1966.
Sequence series photographs by Don Weiskopf; photographs by The Associated Press; Milwaukee Braves; John G, Zimmerman; Corbis Images and Weiskopf
During his outstanding pitching career, Lew Burdette was interviewed by Don Weiskopf for broadcast on Don's Tips in Sports radio program.
Don: Lew, I would imagine beating the Yankees three times in 1957 had to be your biggest thrill in baseball.
Burdette: Yes, Don, it is just once in a lifetime that someone would ever get the opportunity to start three games in a 7-game series. I got a big kick out of beating them because the Yankees have always dominated the American League and the World Series. I got quite a thrill out of it because I was in the minor leagues with a lot of those fellows on the Yankee ball club.
Don: It was quite apparent that you tried to keep the ball down on the Yankee hitters. Along with the slider, was it the sinker the pitch you were throwing a lot?
Burdette: Yes, I threw the sinker, the screwball, and slider, a few curve balls, and an occasional fast ball.
Don: Since you became a winning pitcher for the Braves, your opponents have often accused you of throwing the spitball. But, your catcher, Del Crandall, told me that if you throw it, it doesn't do anything. How do you feel about the general concern on the part of opposing teams?
Burdette: To be honest with you, Don, I think it's a very good pitch for me because I don't throw it, and they think I do, and they are watching me real closely. It helps to get their mind on something other than hitting. Burleigh Grimes told me many years ago not to monkey around with it, but to let them think I threw it. It sets up hitters psychologically for my other pitches.
Don: What do you consider the most important factor in pitching success?
Burdette: I believe control is the main thing in pitching because if you make them hit the ball, you have a good chance of winning.
Don: How do you keep in shape during the off-season? What are a few activities you do?
Burdette: I like to fish and hunt, and I play quite a lot of golf. I don't spend much time in the gym.
Don: How important is it for a pitcher to have his legs in condition?
Burdette: In my opinion, that's just as important, if not more so, than any other part of the body. If your legs are strong, you can go quite awhile out there.
|The Milwaukee Braves' arrival in 1953 stamped Milwaukee as big-league and gave its hardworking citizens -- and sports fans across Wisconsin -- a reason to stand up and cheer. The team was loaded with all-stars and future Hall of Famers.
The best player on the Braves was a young outfielder from Mobile, Ala., named Hank Aaron. He could do it all - run, throw, catch, hit and hit for power. An astonishing athlete, his lightning-quick wrists and discipline at the plate made him a run-producing machine.
And in 1957, Hammerin' Hank led the Braves to the World Series title after a season in which he led the National League in runs score (118), home runs (44) and RBI (a career-high 132) and clinched the pennant with an 11th-inning homer on Sept. 23. Aaron's memorable '57 season was voted the second-greatest single season by Wisconsin athletes (post-World War II).
Several of Aaron's teammates had huge years in '57. But Aaron, just 23 years old and in his fourth big-league season, was the best player on a great team. He batted .322, led the league with 369 total bases, hit .393 with three homers in the World Series and won the National League most valuable player award for the only time in his brilliant 23-year career.
Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig considers Aaron among his dearest friends. But in 1957, Selig was a die-hard Braves fan who was enthralled with everything Aaron did on the field.
"Henry Aaron in '57 was, well, he was a player for the ages," Selig said. "I have never seen a hitter like him. Forget our relationship. I'm telling you in the '50s, when you watched Hank Aaron, you knew you were watching something really special. And I want to emphasize that."
"I wish more people could have seen Henry when he was hitting rocket balls to right field and right center, before he started pulling the ball to try to hit home runs."
The '57 Braves went 95-59 and clinched the pennant with five games to spare on Aaron's electrifying homer. Johnny Logan was standing on second base at County Stadium with two out in the bottom of the 11th when Aaron deposited a pitch from St. Louis' Billy Muffett into the bleachers, just over the glove of centerfielder Wally Moon.
The Braves went on to beat the Yankees in Game 7 in the World Series and thousands took to the downtown streets to celebrate. The party raged into the wee hours of the morning.
"I would describe it as unbridled hysteria," Selig said.
"When you look at Henry, he was a great right fielder, had a great arm, was a great base-runner. And as a hitter … wow."
Photograph by the New York Daily News
|Former Major League catcher Del Crandall recalls every detail of the proudest moment of his career. The date was Oct. 10, 1957. The place: Yankee Stadium. The situation for the Milwaukee Braves at bat against the New York Yankees: two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game-7 of the World Series.
The Yankees have the bases loaded. Moose Skowron hits a ground ball to Eddie Mathews at third. Mathews back hands the ball, and then steps on third for the final out of the game and the series. Pitcher Lew Burdette, who notched his third victory of the series for the Braves, Mathews, and Crandall, hugged between the third base line and the mound.
"That's my vivid memory of the '57 World Series," said Crandall from his home in Brea, California. "The three of us jumping up and down, that's the picture that is in my mind the most, winning the seventh game of the World Series in Yankee Stadium." Crandall, who caught every inning of the series, hit a home run in the eighth inning of the deciding game.
In recalling the series, Crandall, an eight-time all-star and four-time Gold Glove winner, said "We weren't given much of a chance. When you sum the club up, I think you have to put talent number one, but number two, was the way that we played. We really played hard. Mathews was our leader. He was just tough and all of us just took it from him."
While Crandall appreciates the memory of the '57 Milwaukee Braves being kept alive. The eight-time all-star and four-time Gold Glove winner is one of 17 of the living members of the '57 World Championship Braves team that were in Milwaukee in October of 2007 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the championship.
While Crandall appreciates the memory of the '57 Braves being kept alive, he said going back to Milwaukee for the celebration is bittersweet.
"It's kind of mixed for me," he said. "It is great to celebrate it but Mathews, Joe Adcock, Warren Spahn, Burdette and Bob Buhl are gone, so it is with mixed feelings that you go to something like this."
Crandall played in the big leagues from 1949 through 1966 and had stints managing the Milwaukee Brewers (1972-75) and Seattle Mariners (1983-84).
The former catcher also managed the Albuquerque Dukes, a AAA affiliate of the Dodgers and was one of Mike Scioscia's catching instructors.
"I've been in baseball for about 54 years," said Crandall. "It's just in my blood. I love the game."
Photographs by Don Weiskopf and Associated Press
|Fred Haney, a veteran major league manager, accepted in 1956 a one-year coaching offer from the Milwaukee Braves. It was one of the best moves the Braves made since moving from Boston, as Haney brought hustle, competitiveness and baseball strategy. Soon after in June, with Milwaukee languishing in fifth place, he was appointed interim manager. The Braves then went on a tear winning 11 consecutive games and they stayed in contention throughout the year.
During the regular season, Haney led the Braves in overcoming season-ending injuries to their star first baseman, Joe Adcock, and their fleet center fielder Bill Bruton, and slow starts to the season by their starting left fielder and second baseman, both of whom were traded in mid-June for Red Schoendienst.
In his fortieth year in baseball, Haney and the Braves won the 1957 National League pennant by eight games over the St. Louis Cardinals and made it to the World Series. For the seventh game, Haney had a tough decision to make. He chose Lew Burdette to start over Warren Spahn. Lew led the Braves to a 5-0 Series clincher and gave Milwaukee the World Championship. Haney was named National League Manager of the Year.
Two highlights of the '57 season were Haney managing Hank Aaron to the National League Most Valuable Player Award, and Warren Spahn to the lone Major League Cy Young Award.
In 1958, the Braves repeated as the National League champions by a margin of eight games. The core of the Braves team was once again Aaron, Mathews, Joe Adcock, Spahn and Burdette. Pictured here, Burdette and Haney celebrate winning the 1957 World Series crown.
The Yankees again won the American League in 1958, hence the two teams faced off against each other again in the World Series. The Braves roared ahead by winning three of the first four games for a 3-1 lead in the series. However, the Yankees then won games five, six, and seven to win the World Championship, with the final two games being played in Milwaukee County Stadium.
In 1959, the Milwaukee Braves were back in the thick of contention again, with the same core of regular players, and a stronger pitching staff, since Bob Buhl came back to pitch 200 innings in 31 games, with a 15-9 record. Burdette had a 20-10 record, with a 2.91 ERA, and 113 strikeouts. Spahn had a 22-11 season, with a 3.07 ERA and 150 strikeouts.
Haney managed the Braves to an end-of-the-season tie with the Los Angeles Dodgers for first place, with records of 86 wins and 68 losses. This forced the two teams into a best-two-out-of-three-games playoff. The Dodgers, who had lost playoffs for the pennant in both 1946 and 1951, were not to be denied in 1959. The Dodgers swept the first two games of the playoff, and they won their first pennant in their new home city -- Haney's hometown of Los Angeles. A few days later, Haney, approaching the age of 61, was dismissed as the manager of the Braves, and he was replaced by the former Dodger coach, Chuck Dressen.
During his tenure of a little more than three-and-one-half seasons, Haney led the only two pennant winners, and the only World Champions, during the 13-year existence (1953-65) of the Milwaukee Braves. With his other two clubs "near misses", Haney stands as by far the most successful manager of the Braves' years in Milwaukee.
Photographs by SABR.org
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