by Harold Friend
Charlie Cret was in all his glory during the 1952 World Series because his second favorite player, Duke Snider, almost single-handedly dismantled the hated New York Yankees. Duke batted .345 and hit a then-record four home runs, but it just wasn't enough.
New York's Best
Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, and Duke Snider. When fans mention the three Hall of Fame center fielders, they always put Mantle and Mays, or Mays and Mantle before Duke Snider, but in 1952, the best center fielder in New York was the Duke of Flatbush.
Duke hit .303, hit 21 home runs, and had 92 RBIs in 1952, which was a warm up for what was to come. The next five seasons, the Duke hit at least 40 home runs. From 1953-1957, Duke Snider batted .311, and averaged 41 home runs and 117 RBIs a season.
In 1954, Duke Snider had a season that rivaled that of Willie, but because the Giants edged Brooklyn out for the pennant, no one remembers. Duke hit .341 to Willie's league-leading .345, had 40 home runs compared to Willie's 41, and had 20 more RBIs than Willie (130 to 110).
The 1952 World Series
In the 1952 World Series, Duke went wild at the plate. He hit four home runs, batted .345, and had eight RBIs.
Duke Snider Wins Game 1
Duke began his onslaught of the highly favored Yankees in the opener at Ebbets Field. Brooklyn manager Charlie Dressen started rookie ace relief pitcher Joe Black, who had made only two major league starts, against the Yankees' Super Chief, Allie Reynolds. In the sixth inning, with the count two balls and one strike, Snider hit a two-out two run home run off Allie Reynolds to win the game.
"I hit a curve ball. Maybe not a big-breaking curve, but maybe a slider. It was a curve I hit in the fourth (a towering fly that went for a double), but I didn't meet that one so good."
The Complaining Yankees
There was a close play that went against the Yankees. I loved it when they tried to use that play as an excuse to explain why the better team had won. With the score 1-1 in the fifth, Joe Black walked Gil McDougald. Billy Martin singled to left, and McDougald foolishly tried for third. It was bad baseball for two reasons. There were no outs, and Andy Pafko was in left field.
Andy's throw and "the McDougald," as Red Barber used to call him, arrived at third base simultaneously. Billy Cox held onto the ball as McDougald crashed into him. Third base umpire Bill McKinley called him out, and the Yankees' rally was ended.
Bill McKinley's Call
The Yankees praised Joe Black and Brooklyn's power, but they just couldn't stand losing. To a player, they blamed Bill McKinley's call on McDougald. If Gil had been safe, they said that they would have won.
Billy Martin, of course, took second on Pafko's throw, and Allie Reynolds followed with a sharp ground ball to shortstop PeeWee Reese, who threw him out. McDougald felt that with runners on second and third, the infield would have played in and that Reynolds' ground ball would have gone through for a two run single. Too bad, Gil. Umpire don't make bad calls (Do they?).
Gil McDougald Was Upset
As he was being tagged out by Billy Cox, McDougald shouted "No," a protestation that could be heard over the Brooklyn fans' cheering. Because it was the World Series, and there was some degree of political correctness even then, McDougald maintained his dignity and walked away from the umpire, but he had his say after the Yankees lost.
"He (Cox) hasn't tagged me yet. I went into that bag with my legs stiffened and had the bag before he even swung around for the tag. I'd like to see a picture of it that would show. I'm hot about it because it meant the ball game. After that, the infield is in and Reynolds' shot goes through for a single and we get two runs. There was your ball game.
Joe Black went the distance as Brooklyn beat the Yankees, 4-2. It was as sweet a win as I could hope for, especially after the Giants won the 1951 pennant. Brooklyn fans couldn't understand how the Giants could beat us, but after more than 50 years, we found out how it happened. Joshua Prager told us in 2007.
The next day, the Yankees routed Carl Erskine to tie the Series. We went to Yankee Stadium tied at one game each. Our junk ball lefty, who eventually admitted he threw an illegal pitch, beat their junk ball lefty, 5-3. Preacher Roe went the distance for us, and Eddie Lopat worked into the ninth inning for the Yankees.
Reynolds Shuts Out Brooklyn
On Saturday, Joe Black again started against Allie Reynolds, but this time, it was different. Johnny Mize hit a of home run off Joe for the Yankees' first run, Reynolds shut us out, and each team had two wins. Brooklyn hadn't hit a home run since the first game.
Game 5 Belonged to the Duke
Game 5 belonged to Duke and "Oisk." Staked to a four run lead by the fifth inning, Erskine faltered and the Yankees scored five runs. We tied it in the seventh, and won it in the eleventh. Duke hit a two-run home run in the fifth, singled home Billy Cox to tie the game in the seventh, and doubled home Cox in the eleventh with the winning run.
The Pop Fly That Almost Won the World Series
Brooklyn was ahead, three games to two. In Game 6, Duke hit a pair of home runs, to give him four, but that was all we scored and the Yankees won, 3-2. The last game was the one in which almost the entire Yankees' infield didn't know what to do with a Jackie Robinson pop fly.
The bases were loaded, the Yankees led, 4-2, and it seemed as if all three runners would score. There was panic in announcer Mel Allen's voice, when suddenly he, I and everyone else saw Billy Martin seemingly appear out of no where to grab the ball off his shoe tops to save the World Series.
Duke, Mickey, and Willie
Duke Snider appeared in six World Series. He batted .286, with a .351 on base average and a .594 slugging average. Mickey Mantle appeared in 12 World Series. He batted .257, with a .374 on base average and a .535 slugging average. Willie Mays appeared in four World Series. He batted .239, with a .308 on base average and a .282 slugging average. Willie never hit a World Series home run.
By ROSCOE McGOWEN. (1952, October 2). Brooklyn's Defensive Stars Get Big Share of Credit for Victory in Opener :PAFKO AND COX WIN PLAUDITS OF MATES Outfielder's Throw and Third Sacker's Tag of McDougald Held Outstanding Play. New York Times (1857-Current File),36. Retrieved January 13, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 83800611).
By JOHN DREBINGER. (1952, October 2). Three Dodger Homers Beat Yanks in Series Opener, 4-2. New York Times (1857-Current file),1. Retrieved January 13, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 83800287).
By JAMES P. DAWSON. (1952, October 2). Stengel Praises Dodgers' Power and Pitching but His Yankees Blame Umpire :M'KINLEY DISPUTED ON THIRD-BASE CALL -- Snider Clouted Curve . New York Times (1857-Current File),37. Retrieved January 13, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 83800623).