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1952 Baseball Season


By the time the 1952 baseball season arrived, the Yankees had won three rings in a row -- a string that Cleveland fans thought could be broken in 1952. There was indeed reason for optimism on the shores of Lake Erie: The Indians had a lineup filled with heavy lumber and what looked to be the best hurlers in the league.

Meanwhile, over in the Bronx, the Yankees were without Joe DiMaggio (who had retired) and starting infielders Bobby Brown and Jerry Coleman (who were lost to the military). The Tribe was the team to beat. Outfielder Larry Doby tallied 104 RBI and a league-leading 32 home runs; first baseman Luke Easter was just one behind in round-trippers.

Third baseman Al Rosen knocked in a circuit-topping 105 RBI and belted 28 homers. Outfielder Dale Mitchell hit .323, just second to the league-leading .327 average turned in by Philadelphia's Ferris Fain. On the hill, Early Wynn won 23 games while Bob Lemon and Mike Garcia took 22 apiece. The Casey Stengel-led Yankees, however, had a 2-1/2 game cushion on Labor Day, thanks to the substitution of fiery Billy Martin at second base, the insertion of solid Gil McDougald at third, and the emergence of outfielder Mickey Mantle as a star.

With just over a week remaining in the season, the Yanks were blanked 2-0 by Philadelphia southpaw Bobby Shantz (who collected a league-topping 24-7 record, a 2.48 ERA, and the MVP Award) and the Tribe pulled to within 1-1/2 games. The Yankees went on to take the pennant with a 95-59 record, 2 games ahead of Al Lopez's Indians.

Robin Roberts debuted during the 1948 National League Season at age 21.
Robin Roberts debuted
during the 1948 National
League Season at age 21.

An unusually poor season from Cleveland ace Bob Feller may have been the Indians' undoing. Feller had compiled a 230-131 record in his first 13 seasons (a 17-10 average per year), then went 9-13 in '52. If he had won just three more games, Cleveland would have come out on top.

An especially good year from Philadelphia hurler Robin Roberts 28 wins -- the most in the National League since Dizzy Dean's 28 triumphs in 1935 -- wasn't enough to drive the Phillies to the pennant; Philadelphia finished 9-1/2 games back. Allie Reynolds also had a sound season, posting a league-leading 2.07 ERA, 160 strikeouts, and six shutouts for New York.

After coming close to the flag two consecutive years, Brooklyn won the National League title. Although the Giants had a running 16-2 start, the
Dodgers steadily took control. Joe Black, the Rookie of the Year at age 28, was the heart of the Dodgers pitching staff, going 15-4 with a 2.15 ERA. St. Louis, which had batting champ Stan Musial (a .336 average), came in third. Fifth-place Chicago had the league MVP in Hank Sauer (37 home runs, 121 RBI).

New York began to miss Monte Irvin, who sat out nearly the entire year with a broken ankle. When super sophomore Willie Mays was called into military service and ace Sal Maglie had back trouble, the Giants began to fade. If it wasn't for rookie knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm, who posted a 15-3 record and a league-best 2.43 ERA, the Giants might have dropped below second.

By season's end, they were 4-1/2 behind the first-place Dodgers (96-57). The Dodgers pushed the Yanks to a full seven games in the World Series. In game five, Duke Snider's single drove in the winning run in the top of the llth to give the Dodgers a 6-5 victory and a 3-2 Series edge.

Snider nearly won game six single-handedly with homers accounting for both Brooklyn runs, but the Yankees and Vic Raschi came out on top 3-2 after Yogi Berra and Mantle homered in the seventh and eighth. In the deciding game, Mantle's sixth-inning solo shot secured the lead, reliever Bob Kuzava retired the last eight Dodger batters, and the Yanks took a fourth straight World Championship.

The next page provides headlines and summaries for some of the top stories of the 1952 baseball season.

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