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.
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1950 Baseball Season HeadlinesIn 1950, George Kell lead in doubles and the Phillies won the National League pennant for the first time in 35 years. Here are some of the headlines from the 1950 baseball season:
Luke Appling Calls It Quits
Luke Appling set a record in 1949 when he played 141 games at shortstop at the age of 42. He hit .301, scored 82 runs, and even stole seven bases. It was a typical year for Appling. The White Sox, too, had one of their typical years during his sojourn with them. They finished sixth. Appling played in just 50 games in 1950, collecting a .234 average.
George Kell Cracks 56 Doubles
Until the last fortnight of the 1950 season, there was considerable doubt whether Billy Goodman would accumulate enough at-bats to qualify for the American League hitting title. Had he fallen short, George Kell would have won his second straight crown. Kell, who led the league with 218 hits and 56 doubles in 1950, had one of the best seasons ever by a third baseman.
Joe DiMaggio Dominates the 1950 Baseball Season
If he had to do it over again, Joe DiMaggio probably would have retired after the 1950 season, instead of after '51. In 1950, DiMaggio hit .301 with 32 home runs and 122 RBI. His secret to hitting? "There's no skill involved," he said. "Just go up there and swing at the ball."
Gil Hodges Hits Four HRs
Gil Hodges was the first National League player in this century to hit four round-trippers in a regulation-length game (August 31, 1950). He accomplished it at Ebbets Field, which also made him the first in this century to pull off the feat at home.
Pee Wee Reese Falls Short
Pee Wee Reese was the only one of the four regular Dodgers infielders who did not have the top fielding average at his position in 1950. (He did, however, compile 11 home runs, 52 RBI, and 21 doubles.) Brooklyn led the National League in every important department except pitching.
Red Schoendienst, Marty Marion Play Finale
Red Schoendienst and Marty Marion were one of the best keystone combos in the late 1940s. In 1950, they played together for the last time. Schoendienst topped the National League with 43 doubles; Marion was good for 40 RBI. By August, Marion's aching back had benched him most days.
Robin Roberts Clinches the 1950 National League Flag
Robin Roberts won exactly 20 games in 1950, the first of six straight 20-win seasons. His gutty victory on the final day of the 1950 season brought the Phillies their first flag since 1915. In the 35 years between pennants, the Phils finished in the first division only four times -- and just once between 1917 and 1949.
On the next page, you will find even more highlights from the 1950 baseball season.
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More 1950 Baseball Season HeadlinesBelow are more headlines from the 1950 baseball season, including Phil Rizzuto being named the American League's MVP and Phil Konstanty being named MVP for the National League.
The Red Sox Obliterate the Browns
On June 8, 1950, the Browns tallied a run in the top of the ninth to make the final 29-4. The Red Sox would have loved to have batted in the bottom half and added to their modern record for the most runs scored by one team in a game.
Phil Rizzuto Cops 1950 American League MVP
American League MVP Phil Rizzuto had his finest season in 1950 -- .324 average, seven home runs, 66 RBI -- and the Yankees needed it all. Detroit and Boston were in the race until the last week of the season, and fourth-place Cleveland finished only 6 games back. It was the only time during the 16-team era that four clubs in one league won more than 90 games.
Yogi Berra Nails HR in Finale
After cracking a home run, Yogi Berra crosses the plate in the sixth inning of game four of the 1950 World Series. If Berra seems ho-hum about his accomplishment, it's understandable. Not only did the Yankees sweep the Phils, but this was just one of 12 dingers that Berra slammed in his 259 World Series at-bats.
Vern Bickford: A Braves Ace
In 1950, the Braves got 60 wins from their top three starters. Led by Vern Bickford, the trio enabled the Braves to pace the majors in complete games (88). In fact, the three accounted for more complete games (77) than the entire staff of any other team in the majors.
Jim Konstanty is Named 1950 National League MVP
1950 National League MVP Jim Konstanty (22 saves) was virtually unknown to fans a year before the 1950 World Series -- even in Philadelphia. Konstanty never played a full season in the majors until he was past age 31. After 1950, Konstanty again fell into obscurity. In '51, he went 4-11 with a 4.05 ERA. Konstanty is the classic case of a one-hit wonder.
The next page highlights key events and details from the 1950 baseball season.
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1950 Baseball Season Highlights
During the 1950 baseball season, Ralph Kiner topped both leagues with 47 home runs, the Phillies beat the odds and made it to the 1950 World Series, and Luke Appling played his final game. Below, you will find more highlights like these from the 1950 baseball season:
- The Yankees triumph again in the American League under Casey Stengel.
- The Phils win the first flag since 1915, edging out Brooklyn by 2 games.
- The Phils clinch the flag on the last day of season, as Dick Sisler’s tenth-inning homer beats the Dodgers.
- The Yanks sweep the Phils in the 1950 World Series.
- Relief ace Jim Konstanty, the Phils’ surprise starter in game one of the Series, is beaten 1-0 on a sacrifice fly.
- The Phils’ Granny Hamner tops all Series players in hits (six) and BA (.429), even though his team is swept.
- Phils score five runs in Series.
- 1950 featured the most competitive World Series sweep ever, as the Phils are beaten three times by one run and are in every game until the final out.
- Yankee Phil Rizzuto is selected 1950 American League MVP.
- Jim Konstanty is 1950 National League MVP, becoming the first reliever to win the award.
- Konstanty wins a major league record 16 games in relief, and also leads the major leagues in saves with 22.
- Stan Musial tops the National League in hitting (.346).
- Red Sox Billy Goodman wins the American League bat crown (.354) -- only player ever to win hit title without having a regular position.
- Bob Lemon tops the majors with 23 wins.
- Brooklyn’s Gil Hodges hits four homers in a game on August 31.
- Red Sox Walt Dropo wins Rookie of the Year Award.
- Walt Dropo hits 34 homers and posts a rookie record 144 RBI.
Early Wynn's nickname
was "Gus" -- because he
"looked like a Gus."
- Sam Jethroe of the Braves is voted National League Rookie of the Year.
- Cleveland’s Early Wynn tops American League with 3.20 ERA, highest ERA in major league history by leader.
- The National League wins All-Star Game 4-3 at Comiskey, as St. Louis’ Red Schoendienst homers in the 14th inning to win it.
- Ted Williams breaks his elbow in the All-Star Game and is lost until September, possibly costing Boston the flag.
- Connie Mack retires after finishing last in final season at A’s helm.
- All Mexican League jumpers are reinstated by OB for the 1950 baseball season.
- Sal Maglie, one of the jumpers, wins 18 games for Giants and tops National League in win pct. (.818) and ERA (2.71).
- Boston’s Dom DiMaggio leads the American League with 15 steals -- the fewest ever by a loop leader.
- On May 18 vs. Brooklyn, Cardinal third sacker Tommy Glaviano makes errors on three straight plays.
- Stan Musial hits in 30 consecutive games.
- On Sept. 10, Joe DiMaggio becomes the first to hit three homers in a game in Washington’s Griffith Stadium.
Take a look at the next section for more highlights from the 1950 baseball season.
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More 1950 Baseball Season Highlights
Check out more 1950 baseball season highlights, including Vern Bickford's feats for the Braves and Yogi Berra’s record number of hits for a catcher:
- The Browns hire hypnotist David Tracy during the season to rid the team of its defeatist complex.
- On June 8, the Browns are beaten 29-4 by the Red Sox at Fenway -- the most lopsided game of the century.
- Vern Bickford of the Braves no-hits Brooklyn on August 11.
- Bickford tops the majors in both innings (312) and CGs (27).
- On April 18 at St. Louis, the Cards and Pirates play the first “Opening Night” game in major league history.
- TV provides baseball with an extra $2.3 million in new revenues in 1950.
- Yankee Vic Raschi sets a major league record (since broken) when he retires 32 batters in a row.
- Brooklyn’s Duke Snider tops the National League in hits (199) and total bases (343).
- Ralph Kiner wins his fifth consecutive National League homer crown (47).
- Warren Spahn tops the National League in wins (21) and Ks (191).
- Detroit’s George Kell leads the American League in hits (218) and doubles (56).
- Pittsburgh’s Johnny Hopp goes 6-for-6 on May 14.
- Cleveland finishes fourth in the American League with a better record than the Phils.
- The American League boasts four excellent teams and four bad teams -- fourth-place Cleveland finishes 25 games ahead of fifth-place Washington.
- Cleveland’s Al Rosen leads the American League in homers with 37, which is also an American League rookie record.
- Robin Roberts is the Phils’ first 20-game winner since 1917, as he wins exactly 20.
- The Braves finish above .500 for the last time in Boston.
- The Indians trade Mickey Vernon to Washington for Dick Weik.
- In September, the Yanks buy Johnny Hopp from Pittsburgh for bench strength.
- The White Sox send Cass Michaels and two other players to Washington for Eddie Robinson, Al Kozar, and Ray Scarborough.
- A new balk rule is instituted.
- On May 3, Vic Raschi commits four balks in one game.
- The White Sox set a new American League record for fewest steals in a season (19).
- Called up from the minors in June, Yankee rookie Whitey Ford goes 9-1.
- Yogi Berra’s 192 hits set a record for an American League catcher.
- Yankee Jackie Jensen plays in both a Rose Bowl and a World Series.
- The A’s allow 6.6 runs per game on the road.
- The Red Sox score a major league record 625 runs at home.
- The Red Sox score 216 runs in 22 games against the Browns.
- Pitcher Bill Wight sets an American League record for futility when he goes 0-for-61 at the plate.
- Detroit’s Jerry Priddy helps turn 150 DPs to set an American League record for second basemen.
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