1953 Baseball Season


Baseball’s most watched team during the 1953 baseball season was the Braves -- the Milwaukee Braves. With air transportation facilitating travel, owner Lou Perini chose to move his Braves from Boston to Milwaukee. It was the first franchise shift since 1903. The success of the Braves in their new hometown, both on the field and at the gate, prompted other owners to consider changing cities.

Eddie Mathews was considered the greatest hitting third baseman of all time.
Eddie Mathews led the
National League in
walks four times.

The Braves finished second to the Dodgers with a 92-62 record and drew a record 1,826,397 fans. Warren Spahn led the staff, topping the National League with 23 wins (tied with Robin Roberts of Philadelphia) and a 2.10 ERA, while sophomore third baseman Eddie Mathews broke Ralph Kiner’s seven-year hold on the league’s home run crown with 47 homers.

The Dodgers, however, fielded a remarkable team. MVP Roy Campanella had a .312 batting average, 41 homers, and a league-high 142 RBI. Duke Snider added a .336 average, 42 homers, and 126 RBI. It was the first time in National League history two players from the same team belted 40 or more home runs. The Dodger attack didn’t end there. Carl Furillo won the batting title with a .344 average; Jackie Robinson hit .329 with 95 RBI; Gil Hodges hit .302 with 31 homers and 122 RBI; and second baseman Junior Gilliam was named Rookie of the Year.

Brooklyn won a club-record 105 games, becoming the first team to repeat in the National League since the 1944 Cardinals. Awaiting the powerhouse Dodgers in the World Series were the dreaded Yankees, who had a fine season themselves in the American League. New York won nine of its first 11 games, triumphed in 18 straight in May (one win shy of the American League record set by the White Sox in 1906), and took the pennant by 8-1/2 games over Cleveland with a 99-52 record. Casey Stengel became the first to manage five consecutive flag-winners. He did so with a sharp pitching staff.

Twenty-four-year-old Whitey Ford returned from two years of military service to win 18 games, and Eddie Lopat led the league with a 2.43 ERA. Along with Allie Reynolds (38 years old), Vic Raschi (34), and Johnny Sain (35), the five hurlers combined for a 74-30 record. The hitting was strong as well. Yogi Berra racked up 27 home runs and 108 RBI, and Mickey Mantle clubbed 21 roundtrippers, including a 565-foot mammoth shot off Chuck Stobbs in Washington.

The Yankees were not the only story in the American League, however. Cleveland’s Al Rosen won the MVP Award after leading the junior circuit in home runs (43) and RBI (145) and finishing second in batting at .336. Bobo Holloman of the Browns hurled a no-hitter in his first major league start on May 6; with a 3-7 record in July, however, he was optioned to the minors, never to return to the bigs. Despite having a roster that boasted the batting champ (Mickey Vernon with a .337 average) and the pitcher with the most wins (Bob Porterfield with 22 victories), Washington placed fifth.

New York took a two-game lead in the World Series, winning game two on Mantle’s two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth. The Dodgers fought back, winning the next games 3-2 and 7-3, but Mantle’s grand slam won game five for the Yankees.

In game six, Brooklyn tied the score three-all with two runs in the top of the ninth. But Billy Martin’s 12th hit of the Series-he finished with two homers, eight RBI, and a .500 average-scored Hank Bauer in the bottom of the inning to give the Yankees an all-time record fifth consecutive World Championship.

The next page provides headlines and summaries for some of the top stories of the 1953 baseball season.

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1953 Baseball Season Headlines

In 1953, Whitey Ford returned to the Yankees from military leave and Roy Campanella had an amazing season as a home-run-hitting catcher. Here are some of the headlines from the 1953 baseball season:

Joe Garagiola and Ralph Kiner Are Dealt to the 1953 Chicago Cubs

Both Joe Garagiola and Ralph Kiner were traded by the Pirates to the Cubs in a blockbuster deal early in the season that helped neither team in 1953. The Cubs dropped from fifth place to seventh and the Pirates finished last for the second year in a row.

Blue Carl Furillo Hits .344

Carl Furillo never played a game at any position other than outfield or in any uniform other than that of the Dodgers. On seven pennant-winners in his first 14 years with the club, he was released at the beginning of his 15th season and remained bitter toward the organization until his death in 1988. In 1953, he claimed the National League batting title with a .344 average.

Roy Campanella: 41 HRs as a Catcher

Roy Campanella had possibly the greatest offensive season ever by a catcher in 1953. In addition to setting a new backstopper record for home runs (41) and pacing in the National League in RBI (142), he tallied 103 runs and stroked .556 as a pinch hitter.

Whitey Ford Back to Bolster the 1953 New York Yankees

Whitey Ford returned from a two-year military hitch in 1953 to top the Yankees in wins (18) and innings pitched (207). With Vic Raschi, Ed Lopat, and Allie Reynolds all aging rapidly, Ford and National League castoff Johnny Sain, who both relieved and started, were key figures in New York’s fifth straight flag drive.

Rookie Bobo Holloman Tosses No-No

Bobo Holloman tossed a no-hitter for the Browns on May 6, 1953. It was his first major league start and the only complete game he ever pitched. A few weeks later, he was back in the minors, posting a 5.07 ERA at Toronto of the International League.

Walter Alston Takes Over the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers

Walter Alston, who replaced Charlie Dressen at the conclusion of the 1953 season as the team manager, brought the Dodgers home second in 1954. The following year, Brooklyn won the World Series.

Check out more headlines from the 1953 baseball season on the next page.

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More 1953 Baseball Season Headlines

Below are more headlines from the 1953 baseball season, including Mickey Mantle's great hit at Griffith Field and the Dodgers' many runs.

Harvey Kuenn: All Hit, No Field

Harvey Kuenn was a polished hitter from the first day he played in the majors -- his 209 hits led both loops in 1953, his rookie season -- yet his offensive contributions were diminished by his lack of power and low walk totals. In the field, he was a liability regardless of where he played. Rather amazingly, he began as a shortstop.

Mickey Mantle Hits One out of Sight

Mickey Mantle hit a gargantuan home run in 1953 at Washington’s Griffith Stadium. In his third season with the Yankees, Mantle had yet to realize his full potential as a slugger. He collected just 21 four-baggers that year.

Preacher Roe Passes Torch to Podres

Preacher Roe had an 11-3 record for the Dodgers in 1953, giving him a three-year mark of 44-8. Rookie Johnny Podres was 9-4 that season and would replace Roe the following year as the club’s top southpaw hurler.

Eddie Mathews, 21, Clubs 47 HRs

In 1953, Eddie Mathews became the first third baseman since the end of the dead-ball era to lead the National League in home runs that year (47). Moreover, his 135 RBI set a 20th-century record in the Braves franchise. Only 21 years old at the time, Mathews never again matched his 1953 slugging figures.

Four 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers Score at Will

The Dodgers had six players who scored over 100 runs in 1953. The four club leaders were Junior Gilliam (125), Pee Wee Reese (108), Duke Snider (132), and Jackie Robinson (109). All four also finished among the top five in the National League in stolen bases, totaling 76 swipes.

Jackie Robinson Still Has Magic

Jackie Robinson was switched to left field in 1953 after Andy Pafko was traded to the Braves. He was 34 years of age and near the end of his career, yet he still managed to hit .329 and knock in 95 runs.

The next page highlights key events and details from the 1953 baseball season.

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1953 Baseball Season Highlights

Although the Brooklyn Dodgers had a great team for the 1953 baseball season, it wasn't enough to stop the seemingly unstoppable New York Yankees. The Yankees beat the Dodgers in game six of the 1953 World Series, but the losing team (and team members) still managed to rake in several dozen notable victories of it's own.

Below, you will find the highlights from the 1953 baseball season:

  • The Yanks win a Major League record fifth consecutive flag.

  • Brooklyn repeats in the National League.

  • Yankee Billy Martin hits .500 in the World Series, ties the Series record with 12 hits, and has eight RBI.

  • Brooklyn's Carl Erskine fans the World Series record (since broken) 14 hitters in game three.

  • The Dodgers win a club record 105 games.

  • Roy Campanella wins his second National League MVP.

    The New York Yankees enjoyed yet another victory when they won the 1953 World Series.
    The New York Yankees
    took the 1953 World
    Series in six games.

  • Cleveland's Al Rosen is named the 1953 American League MVP.

  • Rosen misses the Triple Crown when he loses the bat title by failing to beat out a ground ball in final at-bat of season.

  • Rosen hits .336 with 43 homers and 145 RBI.

  • Brooklyn's Carl Furillo takes the National League bat crown at .344.

  • The Braves move to Milwaukee - the first franchise shift in the Major League since 1903.

  • The Braves set a new National League attendance record in their first year in Milwaukee.

  • The Braves surpass their previous year's attendance in Boston by their 13th game.

  • The Dodgers tie the Major League record with six men scoring 100 runs or more.

  • The Dodgers homer in a record 24 straight games.

  • Vic Janowicz of the Pirates becomes the first Heisman Trophy winner to play in majors.

  • Phillie Robin Roberts again tops the Major League in CGs (33) and innings (347), and ties for the Major League lead in wins (23).

  • Detroit rookie Harvey Kuenn tops the majors in hits with 209.

  • Walter Alston is named the new Dodgers manager after another devastating Brooklyn World Series loss.

  • On May 6, Brown Bobo Holloman becomes the only pitcher this century to toss a no-hitter in first Major League start, as he blanks Philly.

  • Mickey Vernon wins his second American League bat title (.337).

  • The National League wins All-Star Game 5-1 at Cincinnati.

  • Paul Pettit, Pirates' $100,000 bonus baby, wins his only Major League game.

  • Cleveland's $100,000 bonus baby, Billy Joe Davidson, never throws a pitch in a Major League game.

  • On June 18, the Red Sox send a record 23 men to plate in the seventh inning, scoring a record 17 runs.

  • On June 18, Red Sox Gene Stephens becomes the only player in modern Major League history to get three hits in an inning.

Take a look at the next section for more highlights from the 1953 baseball season.

To learn more about baseball, see:

More 1953 Baseball Season Highlights

Check out more 1953 baseball season highlights, including Roy Campanella's amazing homers and Mickey Mantle's astronomical power hit:

  • On May 25, Max Surkont of the Braves becomes first in this century to fan eight batters in a row in a game.
  • Cardinal Peanuts Lowrey ties the major league record with 22 pinch hits.
  • Roy Campanella's 41 homers set a major league record for catchers.
  • Pittsburgh's O'Brien twins, Johnny and Eddie, become the second brother keystone combo in the major leagues.
  • On April 17 in Washington, Mickey Mantle hits the longest measured home run in history at 565 feet.
  • Brooklyn's Jim Gilliam is the National League Rookie of the Year.
  • Harvey Kuenn is the American League ROTY.
  • Al Rosen tops the American League in SA (.613), runs (115), and runs produced (217).
  • Washington's Bob Porterfield leads the American League in wins (22), CGs (24), and shutouts (nine).
  • Yankee Ed Lopat paces the American League in win pct. (.800) and ERA (2.43).
  • Warren Spahn tops the National League in ERA (2.10) and ties Roberts for lead in wins (23).
  • Brooklyn's Duke Snider leads the National League in runs (132), total bases (370), SA (.627), and runs produced (216).
  • Stan Musial leads the National League in walks (105), on-base percentage (.437), and doubles (53).
  • The Phillies' Connie Ryan goes 6-for-6 on April 16.
  • Jimmy Piersall of the Red Sox goes 6-for-6 on June 10.
  • The Browns lose 20 straight at home.
  • The Pirates send Ralph Kiner and Joe Garagiola to Cubs for five players and $150,000.
  • The A's send Ferris Fain to the White Sox for Eddie Robinson and two others.
  • The Yanks trade Vic Power and five other players to the A's for Eddie Robinson and Harry Byrd.
  • Pittsburgh swaps Danny O'Connell to Milwaukee for Sid Gordon and five other players.
  • Washington ships Jackie Jensen to the Red Sox for Tommy Umphlett and Mickey McDermott.
  • The Tigers trade Art Houtteman and three others to Cleveland for Ray Boone, Steve Gromek, and two others.
  • The Braves, Dodgers, Phils, and Reds pull a complex four-player deal.

  • The Cards owner Fred Saigh is forced to sell the club to Augie Busch when he's handed a 15-month sentence for income tax evasion.
  • The Cards rookie Ray Jablonski totals 21 homers and 112 RBI.
  • Cards rookie Harvey Haddix wins 20 games.
  • Milwaukee's Eddie Mathews leads the National League with 47 homers.
  • Brooklyn rookie Jim Gilliam walks 100 times, becomes the first National League rookie to do so.

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