The first perfect game in world series history dwarfed all other baseball developments in 1956. Donald James Larsen of the New York Yankees, a 27-year-old righthander whose pitching career hitherto had reflected only mediocrity, won everlasting fame on Oct. S in the fifth game of the postseason classic. He stunned the Brooklyn Dodgers, 2 to o, at Yankee stadium by retiring 27 successive batters on 97 pitches. No one reached first base off Larsen, whose unusual pitching style found him throwing without a windup. Larsen needed only one run for a working margin and centrefielder Mickey Mantle sup-plied it in the fourth inning with a home run. Another Yankee run in the sixth inning proved to be superfluous. The victim of Larsen's masterpiece was 39-year-old Brooklyn pitcher Sal Maglie. His five-hitter deserved a better fate, but on this day, base-ball had room for but one hero.
CATCHER LARRY (YOGI) BERRA leaping into the arms of pitcher Don Larsen after Larsen pitched a perfect game (no hits, no runs, no man to reach first base) for the New York Yankees in the 1956 world series. Larsen's feat was the first no-hitter in series history and the first perfect game since 1922 in the major leagues
Weighing all factors, Larsen effected the finest individual base-ball performance of all time. The last perfect game in the major leagues was posted by Charlie Robertson of the Chicago White Sox against Detroit in 1922. Five men before Robertson also had pitched perfect games in regular-season play. But Larsen alone created his miracle amidst the pressure of a world series. His triumph gave New York a 3 to 2 lead in the series and the impetus to move on to its 17th world championship in 22 series appearances. Elsewhere on the baseball front in 1956, the lucrative franchise of the Detroit Tigers changed ownership.
On July 16, an 11-man syndicate headed by Michigan radio-television executives Fred Knorr and John Fetzer bought the Tigers and Briggs stadium from the Briggs estate for a record price of $5,500,000. The sale became effective on Oct. 1. Club president Walter (Spike) Briggs, Jr., was retained as executive vice-president and general manager.
On July 23, Hank Greenberg, former Detroit and Pittsburgh first baseman, and Joe Cronin, erstwhile shortshop for Washing-ton and the Boston Red Sox, were initiated into the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, N.Y.
Cronin. general manager of the Red Sox, figured in the news again on Aug. 7 when he fined outfielder Ted Williams $5,000 for an outburst of temperament toward fans and sports writers during a game against the Yankees.
Major League Races.—The National league pennant race was undecided until the final day of the season. Brooklyn finally won out by a scant one-game margin over Milwaukee. Cincinnati. in third place, was only two games back. In one of the most exciting finishes in recent years, Milwaukee held a one-game edge over the Dodgers with three games left to play for both clubs
The Braves, however, dropped two games to St. Louis while Brooklyn was sweeping three games from Pittsburgh.
In the American league, the New York Yankees turned on the pressure in the final half of the season to breeze home with a comfortable nine-game edge over runner-up Cleveland. The Yankees brought Manager Casey Stengel his seventh flag in the past eight years. The Chicago White Sox, 12 games behind, nosed out the Boston Red Sox for third place by one game.
The New York Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers, world series rivals in 1955, took up where they left off to bring a stirring climax to the 1956 baseball season. The de-fending champion Dodgers threatened a runaway by winning the first two games at Ebbets field.
Sal Maglie, magnificent in the clutch for Brooklyn during the regular season, tamed the Yankees and Whitey Ford in the opener, 6 to 3. Maglie gave up nine hits and struck out 1o. He surrendered a two-run homer to Mickey Mantle in the first inning but Brooklyn, aided by Jackie Robinson's home run, tied the score at 2-2 in the second. Gil Hodges' three-run blast decided the game for the Dodgers in the third inning.
In the second game the Yankees piled up a 6 to o lead but were defeated by a final margin of 13 to 8. New York scored once in the first inning and added five runs in the second, with four runs resulting from Yogi Berra's grand slam homer off Don Newcombe. But Yankee starter Don Larsen failed to hold the ad-vantage. In the Brooklyn second, an error by first baseman Joe Collins paved the way for six unearned Dodger runs, the last three on Duke Snider's tenth series home run. Hodges' two-run double in the fourth put the Dodgers ahead to stay. The winner, in a sterling relief job, was Don Bessent. Another relief pitcher, Tom Morgan, suffered the loss.
When the teams switched to Yankee stadium for the third game, the tide of battle changed. Manager Casey Stengel of the Yankees came back with Ford in a desperation move while Walter Alston, the Brooklyn pilot, countered with Roger Craig. The Dodgers led. 2 to 1, going into the Yankee sixth, but 4o-year. old Enos Slaughter ruined Craig's plans with a three-run homer, New York went on to win, 5 to 3.
Tom Sturdivant kept the revived Yankees rolling in the fourth game with a six-hit, 6 to 2 victory. A key single by Billy Martin off loser Carl Erskine helped the Yankees snap a 1–n tie with two runs in the fourth inning. Mantle and Hank Bauer homered subsequently to provide insurance runs for Sturdivant. The series was now tied.
The fifth game belonged to Larsen and the Yankees, 2 to o, but the Dodgers refused to be counted out.
In the sixth game, Brooklyn returned to Ebbets field and knotted the series at three games apiece. Clem Labine, normally a bullpen pitcher. outduelled Bob Turley, t to o, in to innings Turley allowed only four hits but lost out when Slaughter, in left field, misjudged Robinson's sinking line drive in the bottom of the tenth. Robinson's blow, which was scored as a single, brought Junior Gilliam home from second base. Labine posted a seven-hitter.
Brooklyn sent Newcombe against 23-year-old Johnny Kucks in the seventh and final game and the Yankees made a shambles of it, 9 to 0. Kucks brilliantly held the Dodgers at bay on three hits. Yogi Berra doomed Newcombe hurriedly with a two-run homer in the first inning and another homer in the third. When Elston Howard also homered off Newcombe in the fourth, the towering right-hander was removed, thus deprived of a possible series win for the fifth time in as many starts. Bill Skowron completed the rout in the seventh inning when he slammed a bases. loaded homer off Craig.
New York thus gained its revenge over Brooklyn and won the series for the sixth time in eight years.
Individually, Berra showed the way for the Yankees with .360 batting average. The durable catcher also drove in a series record total of to runs. Slaughter, purchased by the Yank from Kansas City on Aug. 25, followed Berra with an average of .350.
Snider and Hodges set the pace for Brooklyn with .304. T Dodgers batted .195 as a team, however, collecting only one r and seven hits in the final three games.
Attendance for the seven games was 345,903 and the net ceipts were $2,173,254.59. The Yankees voted 32 full shares worth $8,714.76. The Dodgers voted 28 full shares worth $6, 934.34 to become the richest series losers in history.
Mickey Mantle of New York w the triple crown of batting in the American league. Mantle 52 home runs, 8 shy of Babe Ruth's record 6o, and drove in 130 runs while compiling an average of .353. Ted Williams of Bost hit .345.
In pitching, Whitey Ford of New York led earned run averages. with 2.47. His record was 19–6. The 20-game winners included:
Frank Lary (21–13) and Billey Hoeft (20–14) of Detroit; Billy Pierce (20-9) of Chicago; and Herb Score (20–9), Early Wynn (20–9) and Bob Lemon (20–14) of Cleveland. Mel Parnell of Boston pitched a no-hit, no-run 4 to o victory over Chicago on July 14.
Milwaukee's Hank Aaron won the National league batting title with ,328. Brooklyn's Duke Snider topped the home run parade with 43 while Stan Musial of St. Louis led in runs batted in with 109.
Dale Long of Pittsburgh broke a major league record by hitting home runs in eight consecutive games from May 19 through May 28.
The earned run leader among National league pitchers was Lew Burdette of Milwaukee, with a 2.71 average on a record of 19-10. Brooklyn's Don Newcombe was the big winner with 27–7. Warren Spahn (20–11) of Milwaukee and Johnny Antonelli (20–13) of New York were the only other 20-game winners.
Brooklyn pitchers Carl Erskine and Sal Maglie accounted for both National league no-hitters. Erskine got the second no-hitter of his career when he beat the Giants, 3 to o, on May 12. Maglie waited until Sept, 25 to no-hit the Philadelphia Phillies, 5 to 0.
The National league defeated the American league, 7 to 3, to capture the 23rd annual All Star game at Griffith stadium in Washington, D.C., on July o. It was the loth victory for the Nationals against 13 reverses. Each club totalled 11 base hits, but the National league ran up a 5 to o lead, then beat back a three-run uprising in the sixth inning that featured home runs by Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle. Willie Mays and Stan Musial both homered for the Nationals. Third baseman Ken Boyer of the National league stood out defensively and also contributed three hits. The National league line-up at the outset included five members of the Cincinnati Redlegs. The winning pitcher was Bob Friend, who started against Billy Pierce, the loser. The game attracted 28,843 patrons.
The lone managerial change in the majors during the season came on June 16, when Charley Grimm resigned as Milwaukee manager. Fred Haney, a coach with the Braves, took over for Grimm.
Upon conclusion of the season, the Chicago Cubs underwent a drastic shake-up. Manager Stan Hack, personnel director Wid Matthews and business manager Jim Gallagher all resigned. Bob Scheffing, who had managed the Cubs' affiliate at Los Angeles, became field manager; John Holland. president of the Los Angeles club, and Charley Grimm were named Cubs' vice-presidents. Another Cub's vice-president, Clarence Rowland, was named president at Los Angeles. Meanwhile, manager Al Lopez resigned at Cleveland and took a similar post with the White Sox when Marty Marion left Chicago. Kerby Farrell was named manager for Cleveland. Another postseason change found Detroit replacing manager Mucky Harris with Jack Tighe. who had coached under Harris.
Player Deals.—One of the key transactions of the 1956 season. as matters developed, came on May 15 when Cleve-land received waivers on pitcher Sal Maglie, who then joined Brooklyn and aided immeasurably in the Dodgers' pennant rush. Maglie won 13 of 18 decisions.
Among the multiplayer trades, the St. Louis Cardinals sent pitchers Harvey Haddix, Stu Miller and Ben Flowers to Philadelphia on May 11 for pitchers Herman Wehmeier and Murry Dickson. On June 14, the Cardinals traded second baseman Red Schoendienst, outfielder Jackie Brandt, catcher Bill Sarni and pitcher Dick Littlefield to the Giants for shortstop Alvin Dark, outfielder-first baseman Whitey Lockman, catcher Ray Katt and pitcher Don Liddle.
The White Sox, on May 21, got pitcher Jim Wilson and outfielder-first baseman Dave Philley from Baltimore in exchange for third baseman George Kell, outfielder Bob Nieman and pitcher Mike Fornieles.
Atfendance.—As a result of its tight pennant race, the National league enjoyed an increased attendance of 960,398 over 1955. The final count for 1956 was 8,634,810. Milwaukee topped the 2.000.000 mark for the third straight year. The American league fell off 1,058,913 from 1955 to a total of 7,884.058, principally because of the Yankees' runaway.