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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1952 Baseball Season Headlines

In 1952, the Giants lost a key player to injury and the Dodgers lost one to the military. Here are some of the headlines from the 1952 baseball season:

Allie Reynolds Tops in Ks, ERA

Allie Reynolds was age 28 when the war-time manpower shortage forced Cleveland to issue him a major league uniform. Despite his belated start, he won 182 games and saved 49 others. In World Series play, he was 7-2 with four saves. Reynolds had his best season ever in 1952, collecting a 20-8 record, a league-high 160 strikeouts, and a circuit-best 2.07 ERA.

Monte Irvin Injury Hurts the 1952 New York Giants

The Giants were dealt a critical blow in their attempt to repeat as National League champs when Monte Irvin broke his ankle in a 1952 spring training game against Cleveland. Giants supporters falsely accused Al Rosen, the Indians third sacker, of causing Irvin to slide unnecessarily by faking a tag.

Ferris Fain: .327

Ferris Fain led the American League in 1952 with a .327 batting average. Fain was the first two-time batting champ to retire with a career batting average below .300 and one of the few players in this century whose on-base percentage was higher than his slugging average.

The 1952 Brooklyn Dodgers are an Arm Short

The Brooklyn Dodgers had the best offensive and defensive team in the majors in 1952, yet they were unable to fill the pitching hole Don Newcombe left when he was called into military service. Rookie Joe Black led the staff in both wins (15) and saves (15). Carl Erskine was the only member of the mound crew to work more than 187 innings.

Stan Musial Takes Six Honors

With the exception of the 1947 campaign during which he was plagued by appendicitis, Stan Musial had his poorest season in 1952 since his rookie year. Nevertheless, his .336 average still won the National League batting title by 16 points.

Musial also topped the circuit in hits (194), doubles (42), total bases (311), and slugging average (.538), and tied for first place in runs scored (105). Catcher Joe Garagiola, a one-time teammate of Musial's, once said, "What's the best way to pitch to Stan Musial? That's easy. Walk him and then try to pick him off first base."

Robin Roberts: 23-2 vs. Five Teams

Robin Roberts had a 2-2 record against the Cubs and a 3-3 record against the Giants in 1952. Against the other five National League clubs, including the pennant-winning Dodgers, he was 23-2 that season. With Roberts, the Phils posted an 87-67 mark in '52; without him, they would have finished below .500.

Check out more headlines from the 1952 baseball season on the next page.

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More 1952 Baseball Season Headlines

Below are more headlines from the 1952 baseball season, including Bobby Shantz earning the American League MVP award and Gil McDougald showing his versatility.

Bobby Shantz Wins the 1952 MVP Award

The smallest MVP selection in major league history at 139 pounds, Bobby Shantz was also one of the best all-around athletes to win the award. He posted an American League-leading 24 triumphs and a .774 winning percentage in 1952. Shantz was so talented a hitter and fielder that, had he not been lefthanded, he might have been a shortstop.

Gil McDougald an Unsung Hero

Apart from Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra, Gil McDougald was the Yankees' most valuable player during the 1950s. Able to play second, third, and short equally well, he is one of the few players in this century to be a regular at three different infield positions. In 1952, McDougald hit 16 doubles, five triples, and 11 home runs.

Larry Doby Leads the 1952 American League in Slugging

Larry Doby was the American League's top slugger in 1952 with his .541 mark, yet he finished just 12th in the MVP vote. Two years later, when he again paced all American League sluggers, he climbed to second in the balloting. Most students of the era agree that Doby should have been the first black player in the junior circuit to cop the award.

Satchel Paige, 47, Best on the 1952 St. Louis Browns

Satchel Paige led the Browns in wins (12), saves (ten), ERA (3.07), and MVP votes (12) in 1952. In addition, he fanned 91 hitters in 138 innings and had the American League's second-best strikeouts-per-game ratio (5.9). He was 47 years of age at the time.

Duke Snider Shines in the 1952 World Series

Duke Snider slid across the plate with one of his five runs in the 1952 World Series. The Brooklyn center fielder collected ten hits, four home runs, and eight RBI in the fray. The Dodgers' other two slugging greats, Gil Hodges and Roy Campanella, accounted for only six hits and a mere two RBI between them.

Carl Erskine: 14-6, .270 ERA

Mainly a reliever early in his career, Carl Erskine continued to be used as an occasional stopper throughout the 1950s by both Chuck Dressen and Walter Alston. A Brooklyn rookie in 1948, Erskine was the only pitcher still with the Dodgers ten years later when they played their first season in Los Angeles. In 1952, he went 14-6 with a 2.70 ERA and four shutouts.

The next page highlights key events and details from the 1952 baseball season.

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1952 Baseball Season Highlights

The 1952 baseball season seemed to be the year of the east coast teams with the New York Yankees winning it's fourth title, Brooklyn making baseball history with pitcher Joe Black, and Philadelphia cranking out award winners left and right. Below, you will find some of the most memorable highlights from the 1952 baseball season:

  • The New York Yankees take their fourth straight flag.
  • Brooklyn wins the pennant in the National League.
  • The Yanks win the 1952 World Series in seven games to claim their fourth straight title.
  • The Dodgers lead the 1952 World Series three games to two with the final two games in Brooklyn, but the Yankees go to Ebbets and win both.
  • Vic Raschi and Allie Reynolds both win two World Series games for New York -- Reynolds also gets a save in game six.
  • Brooklyn's Joe Black is the first black pitcher to win a World Series game (game one) after going 15-4 on the year.
  • Johnny Mize plays in only five games for New York, but tops the Series in hitters with six RBI and three homers.
  • Chicago Cub Hank Sauer is named 1952 National League MVP.
  • Robin Roberts wins 28 games for the Phils, the most in the National League since 1934, but he doesn't get the 1952 MVP Award.
  • Roberts leads the the National League in innings (330) and CGs (30).
  • Philly's Bobby Shantz wins the 1952 American League MVP Award.
  • Shantz tops the American League with 24 wins.
  • Musial leads the National League in hits (194), doubles (42), total bases (311), and SA (.538), and ties in runs (105).
  • Philly's Ferris Fain wins second consecutive American League bat crown (.327).
  • Ralph Kiner ties Hank Sauer for the National League homer crown to give him the seventh consecutive National League title (37).

    Hoyt Wilhelm was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985.
    With 1,070, Hoyt Wilhelm
    is third all-time in games

  • Ted Williams is taken by the military to fight in Korean War; the Red Sox tumble to sixth place.
  • On April 23, Giant Hoyt Wilhelm homers in the first major league at-bat; he never homers again.
  • Wilhelm tops the National League in win pct. (.833) and ERA (2.43).
  • The Pirates lose 112 games under new GM Branch Rickey, who was ousted by the Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley the previous year.
  • Cleveland has three 20-game winners plus the American League's homer and RBI kings, but does not win the pennant.
  • The Indians dominate individual leaders board in runs, slugging, triples, wins, innings, and CGs.

Take a look at the next section for more highlights from the 1952 baseball season.

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More 1952 Baseball Season Highlights

Check out more 1952 baseball season highlights, including several no-hitters by Virgil Trucks and changes in management and players among several teams:

  • The National League wins the All-Star Game 3-2 at Philadelphia.
  • Joe Black is named 1952 National League Rookie of the Year.
  • Philadelphia's Harry Byrd is the American League ROTY.
  • Virgil Trucks of Detroit no-hits Washington 1-0 on May 15.
  • Trucks no-hits the Yankees 1-0 on August 25.
  • Virgil Trucks goes just 5-19 overall.
  • Tiger pitcher Fred Hutchinson is named team manager. He becomes the last pitcher to serve as player/manager.
  • On May 21, a record 19 straight Dodgers reach base safely vs. the Reds in the first inning.
  • Brooklyn's Carl Erskine no-hits the Cubs on June 19.
  • Walt Dropo ties a major league record with 12 hits in 12 consecutive at-bats.
  • On August 6, the Browns' Satchel Paige, at age 47, shuts out Detroit 1-0 in 12 innings.
  • Cardinal Peanuts Lowrey collects a major league record seven straight pinch hits.
  • Cleveland's Larry Doby tops the American League in runs (104), homers (32), and slugging (.541).
  • Cleveland's Al Rosen leads the American League in RBI (105), total bases (297), and runs produced (178).
  • Allie Reynolds paces the American League in ERA (2.07) and Ks (160).
  • Cleveland's Jim Fridley goes 6-for-6 on April 29.
  • The Braves draw only 281,278 in their last year in Boston.
  • The Tigers finish last for the first time in their history and post their worst won-loss record ever (50-104).
  • On June 13, Ron Necciai of Bristol of the Appalachian League throws a no-hitter and fans 27 batters.
  • Giant Monte Irvin breaks an ankle in spring training -- he never regains his old ability.
  • Toby Atwell of the Cubs is the first National Leaguer to catch 100 games as a rookie.
  • Bob Neighbors, ex-Browns shortstop, is the only former major leaguer to be killed in action in the Korean War.
  • Yankee Phil Rizzuto leads the majors in sacrifice hits a record fourth straight year.
  • Philly's Eddie Joost has 100 or more walks for the sixth straight year.
  • The Yankees trade four players to Cincinnati for Ewell Blackwell to give them help in the pennant stretch.
  • The Yankees trade Jackie Jensen and three other players for Irv Noren and Tommy Upton.

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