by Harold Friend
On July 12, 1957, the Yankees defeated the Kansas City Athletics, 4-2, for their 13th consecutive win against the A's. Don Larsen started for the Yankees against Kansas City's Ralph Terry, whom the Yankees had sent to Kansas City in the Billy Martin trade on June 15.
So Many Former and Future Yankees
Besides Terry, Kansas City had former Yankees Lou Skizas, Billy Hunter, and Woody Held in the starting lineup. Former Yankees' minor leaguer Vic Power was the first baseman, former Yankees' minor leaguer Jack Urban and ex-Yankees Bob Cerv, Hal Smith, and Irv Noren appeared in the game. What is almost bizarre is that Kansas City second baseman Hector Lopez became a Yankee in 1959, and shortstop Joe DeMaestri was traded to the Yankees in the Roger Maris deal.
A Former Athletic Hits a Home Run for the Yankees
Larsen and Terry were involved in a tense 1-1 game in the eighth inning. Mickey Mantle had put the Yankees ahead with a home run, which Vic Power later matched. In the top of the eighth, Ralph Terry issued consecutive walks to Gil McDougald and Mickey Mantle. Yogi Berra fouled out, but Harry Simpson, whom the Yankees had obtained from Kansas City when they sent Terry to the A's, hit a three home run. It was his first home run as a Yankee. Yes, it was almost impossible to follow the players, even with a scorecard.
The Pitcher Batted Seventh
Yankees' manager Casey Stengel pinch hit for Larsen in the eighth inning, but what made the move unusual was that pitcher Don Larsen was batting seventh in the Yankees' batting order. Third baseman Andy Carey hit eighth, and second baseman Bobby Richardson was in the number nine slot. Larsen ended his career with 14 home runs and a .242 batting average. He certainly had more power than Richardson did.
Casey Stengel's Strategy Was Questioned
Replacing Larsen after seven innings was a little unusual since starting pitchers were expected to try to finish what they started. Johnny Kucks faced Kansas City in the eighth inning, giving up 2 hits, but no runs. In the bottom of the ninth, Woody Held led off with a home run, Joe DeMaestri reached on a Gil McDougald error, Billy Hunter forced DeMaestri at second, and left hander Tommy Byrne came in to face left handed pinch-hitter Irv Noren.
Byrne, like Larsen, was a good hitting pitcher with solid power who sometimes batted seventh or eighth. Byrne struck out Noren, righty Al Cicotte retired Vic Power and the Yankees won, but some baseball writers criticized Stengel for removing Don Larsen after only seven innings.
In 2009, American League pitchers don't bat, teams acquire players through free agency more often than by trading for them, it is unusual for a manager to NOT remove a starting pitcher after seven innings, and the A's are in Oakland. One thing that is true today as it was in the 1957 Yankees-Kansas City game is that, thanks to free agency, it is almost impossible to know which player plays for which team.
By JOHN DREBINGER Special to The New York Times. (1957, July 13). CLOUT BY SIMPSON DOWNS TERRY, 4-2 :Bombers Set Back Athletics on 3-Run Drive in 8th-- Mantle Smacks No. 24. New York Times (1857-Current file),12. Retrieved April 11, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2005) database. (Document ID: 92169232).