Something old and something new highlighted major league baseball in 1958. A familiar development occurred when the New York Yankees regained the world championship. They beat Milwaukee in the world series, four games to three, after trailing, three games to one. It was the 18th time in 24 series appearances that the Yankees won baseball's greatest prize.
Collision at First Base during the sixth game of the 1958 world series at Milwaukee, Wis., Oct. 8. Hank Aaron of the Braves (44) knocked over Yankee first baseman Bill Skowron as Skowron attempted to field a bad throw from pitcher Art Ditmar. After the collision Aaron advanced to second base on the error.
The new look found the Brooklyn Dodgers becoming the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Giants becoming the San Francisco Giants as these major league teams shifted to California. While both teams awaited the removal of various barriers necessary to pave the way for construction of new stadiums, the Dodgers performed in the Los Angeles Coliseum (capacity: 94,000), the Giants in Seals stadium (capacity: 23,600). The Coliseum, more adapted to football and track than to baseball, was the object of considerable controversy because of its short (250-ft.) home run target in left field. However, the matter re-solved itself as a total of 193 home runs were hit in the Coliseum during the season, well under the major league record of 219 delivered at Crosley field in Cincinnati in 1957.
A potential franchise shift for 1959 went by the boards when Calvin Griffith, president of the Washington Senators, decided against seeking the permission of American league club owners to move the Senators to Minneapolis.
Tragedy hit the baseball world in general and the Dodgers in particular on Jan. 28, 1958, when veteran catcher Roy Campanella's playing career was ended as a result of injuries received in an automobile accident.
Major League Races.
Los Angeles Coliseum, new home of the Dodgers in 1958.
The New York Yankees jumped off to a tremendous start in the 1958 race, and then coasted 'to the American league pennant. The Yankees took the lead during the first week of the season and held it to the finish, thereby bringing Manager Casey Stengel his ninth league title in ten years. The Chicago White Sox, off to a slow getaway, came on fast the last half of the campaign to finish second, ten games off the pace.
In the National league, surprise showings by two teams figured as also-rans—the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants—heightened interest in the pennant fight. But Milwaukee took over first place late in July and stayed there to produce its second successive pennant under Manager Fred Haney. The Braves won with an 8-game edge over Pittsburgh. San Francisco was third, 12 games back.
The Yankees won the world series the hard way. Not since 1925, when the Pittsburgh Pirates rebounded to beat the Washington Senators, had a team spotted its opponent a 3 to r lead in games and then managed to bail out. The Yankees did that against Milwaukee as the series went the full seven-game route for the fourth successive year.
The Braves opened auspiciously, winning the first two games in Milwaukee County stadium. Milwaukee needed ro innings to take the opener, 4 to 3. A single by Billy Bruton off relief pitcher Ryne Duren drove in the deciding run. Veteran Warren Spahn went the distance for the win, giving up eight hits that included home runs by Bill Skowron and Hank Bauer. Duren, who replaced starter Whitey Ford on the mound for the Yankees, was the loser.
The greatest first inning bombardment in series history led Milwaukee to a 13 to 5 rout in game two. It was all over but the shouting after the Braves scored seven runs the first time they came to bat. A lead-off home run by Bruton and a three-run blast by pitcher Lew Burdette helped wreak the havoc.
Burdette, who won three games against the Yankees in the 1957 series, coasted to the triumph, even though he surrendered three homers—two by Mickey Mantle and one by Bauer. Burdette had entered the game with a scoreless string of 24 innings against the Yankees, but his bid to break Babe Ruth's series record of 29 2/3 shutout innings was snapped when the Yankees scored an unearned run in the first inning. The loser was starter Bob Turley, who was bombed out after retiring only one Milwaukee batter.
The series switched to Yankee stadium in New York for game three and the Yankees stayed alive by winning, 4 to o. Don Larsen held the Braves at bay for seven innings before Duren finished the job. Bauer continued his spectacular hitting by driving in all four runs, two of them with his third home run in three games. The loser was Bob Rush.
But the brilliance of Spahn, Milwaukee's blue-chip pitcher, put the Yankees deeper in the hole in the fourth game. He surrendered only two hits to beat Ford, 3 to o, and hand the Braves what appeared to be an insurmountable lead of three games to one. Red Schoendienst, a defensive great at second base in the first four games, scored the only run Spahn needed. Leftfielder Norm Siebern lost track of Schoendienst's fly ball to open the sixth. The blow went for a triple. Schoendienst scampered home when shortstop Tony Kubek erred on Johnny Logan's grounder.
The Yankees smashed their nemesis, Burdette, with a six-run sixth inning to take game five, 7 to o. Bob Turley, the master throughout, checked Milwaukee on five hits and struck out ten. Gil McDougald homered off Burdette in the third inning, then chipped in with a two-run double during the big sixth.
With the scene of battle back in Milwaukee again, New York tied the series at three games apiece by virtue of a thrilling 4 to 3 triumph in ten innings. McDougald led off the Yankee tenth with a home run off Spahn to break a 2 to 2 deadlock, and the Yankees got an insurance run on Skowron's single behind hits by Howard and Berra. The single by Berra was his 59th in series competition, a new record. Milwaukee narrowed the gap to 4 to 3 in the bottom of the tenth on a walk and singles by Hank Aaron and Joe Adcock, but Turley came on in relief to retire the side. Spahn was charged with the loss, while Duren, in relief, was the winner. Bauer slammed his fourth series home run in the first inning, tying the record.
The seventh game was another nervous, frenzied affair until the Yankees broke out with four runs in the eighth to shatter a 2 to 2 tie and win the clincher, 6 to 2. Turley, making his fourth appearance, blanked the Braves with 6 2/3 innings of relief greatness as he replaced Larsen and capped the sensational series comeback for the Yankees. Berra set up the Yankees' deciding run in the eighth with a double, and Howard delivered the game-winning single. Skowron concluded the outburst with a three-run homer. The Yankees had pulled the-series out of the fire—and had done it by beating Burdette. It was fitting that Howard provided the clutch hit, for it was his defensive work which had kept the Yankees in the running earlier in the series.
Individually, Bruton led series hitters with a .412 average. Bauer, however, collected the most hits, 10, while running up a .323 mark to top the Yankees. Bauer wound up with four home runs and eight runs-batted-in. The Braves struck out 56 times, a record, and Eddie Mathews fanned 11 times, another record. Milwaukee's defense sagged as the series wore on and the Braves were charged with a total of seven errors.
Total attendance at the series was 393,909, with the net receipts $2,397,223.03. The Yankees voted 32 full shares worth $8,759.10 each; the Braves voted 31 full shares worth $5,896.09.
Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox won the American league batting championship for the sixth time. He came on with a late rush to compile a .328 average. Mickey Mantle of New York led in home runs with 42. Jackie Jensen of Boston drove in 122 runs, tops in that category. In pitching, Whitey Ford (14–7) of New York had the best earned run average with 2.01. His teammate, Bob Turley (21–7), was the league's lone 20-game winner. No-hit, no-run games were turned in by Detroit's Jim Bunning and Baltimore's Hoyt Wilhelm. Bunning beat Boston, 3 to o, on July 2o; Wilhelm defeated New York, 1 to o, on Sept. 20.
In the National league, Richie Ashburn of Philadelphia took the batting title with a .350 average. Ernie Banks of Chicago was the home run champion with 47, and his 129 runs-batted-in also headed that department.
In pitching, Stu Miller of San Francisco secured earned run honours with 2.47. Three pitchers hit the 20-game level—Warren Spahn (22–11) and Lew Burdette (20–10) of Milwaukee and Bob Friend (22–14) of Pittsburgh. Spahn set a new record by becoming the first left-handed pitcher ever to win 20 games in nine different seasons.
Stan Musial of St. Louis became the eighth player in major league history to reach the 3,000-hit mark. He did it on May 13 with a pinch double against the Cubs at Wrigley field in Chicago
The American league won the All-Star game, 4 to 3, beating the National league for the 15th time in 25 tries. The midsummer classic was played at Baltimore, and it was the Orioles' Billy O'Dell whose hitless relief stint stopped the National league in the final three innings.
The rival managers were Casey Stengel of New York and Fred Haney of Milwaukee. One of Stengel's Yankees, Gil McDougald, drove in what proved to be the winning run with a pinch single in the sixth inning. The win was credited to Early Wynn of Chicago. Pittsburgh's Bob Friend was the loser.
An innovation came into being when members of both squads were chosen by managers, coaches and players. Previous All-Star teams were chosen by a vote of the fans.