There were many unexpected events that took place during the 1950 baseball season, but it came as no surprise when the New York teams dominated the decade of the 1950s. There were five Subway Series; 14 of the 20 teams to play in the World Series were from the Big Apple; and the Yankees were champs six times, the Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers once apiece.
Just as the town was bubbling over with baseball, the Giants and the Dodgers departed for California before the 1958 season broke open, leaving behind the Yankees and many a broken heart. The majority of the thrills in 1950, however, were produced by a team from Philadelphia. The story of the year was that the Phillies (also known as the "Whiz Kids," since they won the National League with a starting lineup of players under 30 years of age) had even made it to the Series.
On the final day of the regular season, the first-place Phils (90-63) faced the Dodgers (89-64) at Ebbets Field. Philadelphia's 7-game lead over Brooklyn nine days before had been whittled down to a single-game edge. After losing ace lefty Curt Simmons and his 17-8 record to military duty on September 10, the Phils began to fade. Injuries to rookie hurlers Bubba Church and Bob Miller forced manager Eddie Sawyer to give the ball to righthander Robin Roberts in the closing day game (it was his third start in five days).
Brooklyn had a chance for victory in the bottom of the ninth, but Roberts weathered a bases-loaded jam to send the game into overtime. In the tenth, Dick Sisler hit a three-run homer to give the Phils their first flag since 1915. The Philly pitching star of the year, however, was Jim Konstanty. Named MVP, he appeared in a league-high 74 games with a circuit-topping 22 saves. Another Philadelphia standout, Del Ennis led the league with 126 RBI.
The lefty Warren Spahn
won more games than any
other left-handed pitcher
in baseball history.
As for the rest of the National League, Ralph Kiner gave last-place Pittsburgh hope for next year as he nailed 47 home runs (tops in both leagues) and 118 RBI (second in the circuit). Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain, ranked first and second in the league in wins, wowed Boston with their 41 combined victories. Sal Maglie of New York posted the best ERA in both circuits with a 2.71 mark.
The Yankees followed a smoother path to October, finishing the regular season with a 98-56 record, 3 games ahead of Detroit. Nine wins from rookie southpaw Whitey Ford (called up by manager Casey Stengel in late June), a strong finish from Joe DiMaggio, and an MVP year from Phil Rizzuto (.324 average) guided the Yankees to the pennant. Detroit might have made the race for the flag interesting if not for the season-long injury to ace Virgil Trucks.
The third-place Red Sox were headed up by Vern Stephens and Rookie of the Year Walt Dropo (each knocked in a league-leading 144 runs) and by Billy Goodman (the batting leader with a .354 average). Ted Williams, however, missed most of the second half of the season due to an All-Star Game injury, very likely costing Boston the flag.
Cleveland produced the other stars in the American League: Al Rosen, the home run king with 37 round-trippers; Bob Lemon, the leader in wins with 23; and Early Wynn, the top ERA man at 3.20. New York's pitching staff made short work of the Whiz Kids in the Series, allowing Philadelphia just five runs in the four-game sweep, to become champs for the second straight season.
The 1950 campaign also marked the end of two long careers. Luke Appling, who had played shortstop for the White Sox since 1931, retired. And after 53 years, 7,755 games, and 3,731 wins, Connie Mack stepped down as manager of the Athletics at age 88; he died six years later.
The next page provides headlines and summaries for some of the top stories of the 1950 baseball season.
To learn more about baseball, see:
- 1949 Baseball Season
- 1951 Baseball Season
- Baseball History
- How Baseball Works
- How the Baseball Hall of Fame Works
- How Minor League Baseball Teams Work
- Babe Ruth