by Harold Friend
Larry Diamond was a Brooklyn Dodgers' fan who moved to Queens when he was only nine years old. Larry still rooted for Brooklyn, but now there were many more Yankees' and Giants' fans in his neighborhood. Larry fondly recalls Sept. 26, 1956, which was the day unheralded Baltimore Orioles' rookie, Charlie Beamon, prevented Whitey Ford from becoming a 20 game winner.
World Champion Brooklyn Dodgers
I really was enjoying the 1956 baseball season. For the first time in my lifetime, my team was the World Champion. Brooklyn had beaten the Yankees in the 1955 World Series, and appeared to have a decent chance of repeating as pennant winners.
Whitey Ford was a thorn in the side of the Dodgers, which Yankees' fans never let me forget, but they were pretty quiet after the World Series. That didn't last too long once the 1956 season started, and now they were in all their arrogant glory because the Yankees had clinched the 1956 pennant.
The Yankees' fans had a lot of ammunition, but one way to "rank them out" was to hammer away at the fact that Whitey Ford, the great Whitey Ford, had never won 20 games in a season.
Ford Faced the Orioles
It seems like yesterday that I came home from school, changed my clothes, and went outside to play ball. We played ball everyday, unless it rained really hard. We all knew that Whitey Ford was pitching in Baltimore, and that he had won 19 games. The Yankees' fans were confident because Ford was opposed by Charlie Beamon, who was making his major league debut.
After Three Innings
Our stick ball game broke up a little past five o'clock. I went home for supper and saw that my father had left the New York Post on the kitchen table. On the back page, I glanced at the scores. The Orioles led the Yankees, 1-0, after three innings.
Charlie Beamon Shut Out the Yankees
When my parents watched the late news, I heard, much to surprise and delight, that Beamon had shut out the Yankees, 1-0. Ford wouldn't be a 20 game winner. Man, it was going great.
Billy Martin Strikes Out Three Times
It was a cold, blustery Baltimore day. Only 7,000 fans paid their way into Memorial Stadium to see the game. Charlie Beamon, who had been 13-6 with Vancouver of the Pacific Coast League, held the Yankees to four singles, while striking out nine, including Billy Martin three times, once with the bases loaded and two outs. To add insult to injury, Mickey McDermott, a pitcher, batted for Martin in the eighth inning and Beamon struck him out.
A Great Wild Pitch
Wait. It gets better. With two outs in the Orioles' third, Tito Francona, whose son would be the Red Sox manager in 2004 when the Yankees suffered the worst defeat in playoff history, singled. Bob Nieman singled Francona to third, and then Ford uncorked a wild pitch. The run that prevented Ford from winning 20 games came home on a Whitey Ford wild pitch.
Pinch Hitter Mickey Mantle
But the best part occurred in the seventh inning. Remember, it was real baseball in those days. With one out, Ford was the scheduled batter. He was allowed to bat, and not only because he still had a chance to win the game. It was not unusual for pitchers to bat in the seventh inning when their team was behind by only a run or two.
Ford singled and moved to third on an Enos Slaughter single. With the potential tying run on third and only one out, Mickey Mantle, on his way to winning the Triple Crown, pinch hit for Joe Collins. Mickey Mantle popped up to second baseman Wayne Causey. Beamon retired Bob Cerv, and the Yankees were finished.
The season ended on a high note when my Dodgers edged out Milwaukee for the pennant by a single game. I was looking forward to beating the Yankees again in the World Series. Don Newcombe, who won 27 games, gave me a lot of confidence.
By JOHN DREBINGER Special to The New York Times. (1956, September 27). Beamon of Orioles Tops Yanks in Major League Debut at Baltimore :FOUR-HIT HURLING GAIN 1-0 VERDICT. New York Times (1857-Current file),p. 46. Retrieved January 23, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 305905482).