Sports Illustrated's special guest last week was Sal Maglie, who was ineligible for the 1957 World Series. Baseball Editor Robert Creamer sat with Maglie and noted Sal's inside comments as Milwaukee twice bounced back from shattering Series defeats. Their joint report follows...
The Braves came into the first game of the Series determined not so much to win, it seemed, as to prove to their critics that they were not awed by it all: by the idea of the World Series, by the immensity of Yankee Stadium, by the fearsome opposition of the New York Yankees.
The Braves were determined not to choke up and, truth to tell, they did not. That is, they did not lose the first game through nervous mistakes. But neither did they rise to the occasion. They played mechanically, as is their habit. The trouble was, the Yankees played mechanically against them, and the Yankee mechanics are the best in the business. The result was a methodical, rather dull 3-1 Yankee victory, of interest mostly to the student, the clinical observer, like Sal Maglie, who was fascinated by the masterful pitching of Whitey Ford and commented enthusiastically on his colleague.
October 13, 1957
He's pitching right to the book, exactly the way he's supposed to. He threw good curves to Logan. Logan likes fast balls. He had Mathews chasing the low curve on the three-and-two pitch. Mathews will do that. Everything. He's a good pitcher.
Hank Bauer doubled to deep right center field in the fifth inning to drive in the first Yankee run, and in the sixth Andy Carey took a short chop swing and lifted a little single into center for the second run. Maglie said:
You see what Spahn is trying to do? He's pitching away from everybody. You have to go to the opposite field against him. That's what Bauer did. Carey didn't try to pull either. He just stuck his bat out and met the ball and there's another run. You have to do that against Spahn.
Ford's big test came in the sixth inning, when, leading 1-0, he walked the first two batters. But then he struck out Henry Aaron on three pitches, the third a low curve well inside, got Joe Adcock on a dribbler to the first baseman and struck out Andy Pafko on a three-and-two pitch. Maglie said:
You have to do that to Aaron. He's going to swing and he'll go after almost any thing. And he'll hit almost any thing, so you have to be careful. Adcock, well, pitch Adcock close and then low and away and he'll never hit. But the way Ford pitched to Pafko, that was smart. Pafko fouled off two or three curves on the two-and-two pitch. He had his eye on Whitey's curve pretty good. So Whitey threw him a fast ball, high and outside, just to let Andy see it, just to get his eye off the curve. Then he came right back with the curve and Andy missed it. That's pretty good pitching.
The next day, in a much more exciting game, there was pretty good pitching again, but this time by Lew Bur-dette of the Braves, who beat the Yankees 4-2. Burdette jittered around on the mound, tugging at his cap, bringing his hand up to his mouth, across his shirt front, down to the rosin bag, fidgeting, following his pitch with a curious, characteristic little jump, getting that much tougher whenever the Yankees threatened. Maglie, who made no pretense of being an objective reporter—groaning when Johnny Logan hit a homer for the Braves, cheering when Bauer replied with one for the Yankees, standing with other Yankee fans in the New York half of the seventh inning—gave Burdette begrudging admiration:
He's a squirrel, but he knows what he's doing. He moves the ball around all the time, and keeps it low. He throws a fast ball, I think a slider, a screwball that he uses for a changeup, and the sinker.
That's the one they call the spitter. It breaks straight down. He doesn't use it too often, just when he needs a strike and knows the batter will be swinging.
In the seventh, Hank Bauer swung awkwardly at a low pitch. Maglie exclaimed:
There it is now. The spitter.
Almost on cue, Bauer turned and asked the plate umpire to examine the ball, though later Bauer half-jokingly denied to Maglie that he thought it was a spit ball. "I just didn't see it," he said. "I thought maybe he had a black ball out there, maybe one with a little tar on it."
The Braves' dormant power finally came to life in the second, when they scored. They got another run in the third and knocked Bobby Shantz out of the game in the fourth, when Wes Covington's single scored two runs.
Earlier, Covington had made a spectacular one-handed catch of Shantz's two-out line drive with two men on base. The catch saved at least two runs and received wide acclaim from newspaper and television commentators. Maglie did not agree:
It was a nice catch, but he should have had it in his lap. He was playing in too close for Shantz. Shantz is a good hitter. He misjudged the ball. He didn't get started in time. That wasn't a great catch. He was lucky.
Later, however, Maglie gave high praise to Joe Adcock for a play that was relatively unnoticed. Adcock took a grounder and threw to second base hard just in time to force Mickey Mantle. The next batter followed with a double that would have scored Mickey and brought the Yankees to within one run of a tie. Maglie said:
You don't expect plays like that from Adcock. Especially when the base runner is as fast as Mantle. It saved a big run. It was a big play.
But though Maglie praised Adcock and others praised Covington, the big fielding plays of the game, so far as Milwaukee fans and players were concerned, were two bad ones made by Mickey Mantle. Milwaukee tied Mickey to a figurative stake and danced around him, pointing gleefully to his feet, which were obviously made of clay.
The Yankees Are Only Human, it was proclaimed—a fact not previously accepted in Milwaukee.
Back to Wisconsin flew the Braves, leaving the Yankees to follow by train. Thousands of citizens drove out to welcome them home. Thousands more lined the streets. That one victory in New York that evened the Series at one game apiece grew larger and larger. We've Got Them On The Run became the theme. We Aim To Finish Them Off Here, said the Braves.
Today we make history roared the Milwaukee Sentinel in its World Series story headline. The fans' natural inborn resentment of the Yankees and the natural inborn affection for the Braves had them cheering their heroes in County Stadium well before game time and drowning Casey Stengel in an ocean of boos every time he came out to talk.
Oh, it was a great day for Milwaukee, until the top of the first inning.
Then, like a slap in the face, Tony Kubek, a hometown Milwaukee boy, hit a home run. It was bad enough that he was playing for the Yankees, but to hit a home run against the Braves....
He's a nice boy, that Kubek. He's going to be a great player. He's a fine hitter right now. He hits with the pitch and it's hard to fool him. His wrists are so quick he can wait to see where the pitch is thrown before he commits himself, and then he can push it to left or pull it to right. And he's never satisfied with himself. That's the sign of a good ballplayer.
Kubek's homer was the key that opened a Fibber McGee's closet of disaster for Milwaukee. Sal warned:
Buhl gets wild when he's hit a little.
Buhl promptly walked Mantle on a three-and-two pitch, and then threw four straight wide balls to Yogi Berra. Maglie nodded:
See? Not even close.
Buhl, growing more and more tense, suddenly turned toward second base and caught Mantle 20 feet off the bag. Buhl threw to Red Schoendienst, but wildly, off to one side, so that the ball bounced off into the outfield. Mantle barged into Schoendienst, who draped himself over Mickey's back like a sack of wheat in a not overly subtle attempt to hold Mantle at second. Mickey shrugged his troublesome burden off and sprinted down to third, Berra following him into second.
Buhl then gave up fielding and resumed pitching, allowed another run on McDougald's fly and a third on Simpson's single, and then retired.
The Yankees had three runs, and they followed with two more in the third, two more in the fourth, and five more in the seventh, when hometown boy Kubek hit his second home run (and returned to the Yankee dugout blushing in pleased embarrassment).
The Braves did not take all this sitting down. They took it standing up, on the bases. They filled the bases in the first inning, the second, the sixth and the ninth. And they left the bases filled in the first inning, the second, the sixth and the ninth.
The final score was 12-3. It was a miserable day for Milwaukee, but in a way it was historic. Milwaukee's pitchers had given up 11 bases on balls to tie a Series record, and Milwaukee's batters had left 14 men on base, which tied another, set 47 years before.
Overnight, the misery abated. Sunday the Braves' new world glowed with the brilliance of superb baseball and broad, unbelievable but delightfully successful melodrama. Saturday everything went wrong. Sunday everything went right, excepting only the ninth inning, and that was all right too, because it set up the heroic 10th.
Warren Spahn pitched for the Braves, gave up 11 hits and five runs, but won the game, which pleased Milwaukee immensely. He gave up one run in the first and not another until there were two out in the ninth and two strikes on the batter, Elston Howard. The Braves meanwhile had scored four runs, three of them on a home run by Henry Aaron (who had driven in two runs the day before but who had left eight runners on base) and another on a homer by Frank Torre.
Thus, the Braves had a 4-1 lead with two out in the ninth and the bases empty. Then Berra rang a single into right field, and Gil McDougald, not trying to pull the ball on Spahn, pushed another single into right. Howard ran the count to three balls and one strike. He took a fast ball down the middle for strike two. Then Spahn aimed at the outside corner, but his aim was off and the pitch came in a little on the inside and nearly belt-high. Howard swung and hit a three-run homer over the left-field fence that tied the score and turned 670,000 Milwaukee stomachs into hard little lumps.
It was bad enough then, but in the first half of the 10th it got a little worse. Spahn gave up another run when Hank Bauer tripled deep to left center. The Yankees, the intolerable Yankees, were ahead. Milwaukee was utterly crushed.
And then, suddenly, everything brightened. Nippy Jones, pinch-hitting, was hit on the shoe polish by a pitch. Casey Stengel came out to change pitchers and was lustily booed. Red Schoendienst, holding his bat as lightly as a fly rod, cast a perfect sacrifice bunt. Casey came out again, this time to put in a substitute for the sore-armed Mickey Mantle. He was booed again. Things were getting brighter by the boo boo. Johnny Logan pulled a double into the left-field corner to score the tying run. And Eddie Mathews lifted a home run into the right-field bleachers to win the game. Bratwurst stock rallied strongly, as 670,000 Milwaukee stomachs relaxed. Sal Maglie, the Yankee fan, was impressed this day by the Braves.
They played great ball. Logan did a wonderful job. Logan and Red, the whole infield. I never saw their infield look so good. They were alive. The whole team was alive. I never thought they'd come back and score in the 10th.
Mathews was a different hitter today. Remember when he swung at that first ball in the first inning? He'd made his mind up that he was going to be swinging today. In the fourth I thought to myself, I hope Sturdivant doesn't lay that first pitch in there because he's ready to swing. And, poppo! There urns that double. And Aaron wasn't fishing today. Off Kucks he took four straight pitches just outside. And he took a change-of-pace strike. He was waiting for his pitch today.
Spahn pitched a good game. He tried to keep everything outside, just come low inside once in a while. I thought he was still strong in those late innings. He had to come in to Howard. He put a called strike down the middle on the three-one count. He had to come over the plate again. He had no choice. He had to make Howard hit. If he walked him he was putting the tying run on base.
It was a rough game for the Yanks to lose, but it was a hell of a ball game, wasn't it?
But it was no better than the one the next day, Monday. Milwaukee's great Renaissance burgeoned on the wings of a civilized ball game of high skill. Gone were the extravagant deeds and outlandish drama. Instead, the Braves defeated the Yankees 1-0 in a game so neat and taut and clean that it excited everyone's admiration. Sal Maglie said it was the best game of the Series. Whitey Ford of the Yankees pitched with singular brilliance, walking only one man and allowing six hits.
Three of those hits were scratched into the scorebooks in the sixth. Fate decreed that Mathews would beat out a hopper and that Aaron's fly would fall safely. Then Adcock pushed a hit to right off a good pitch in on his wrists and the Braves had the run that defeated Whitey Ford.
Ford's pitching was actually superior to that of his victorious opponent, Lew Burdette, but what Burdette lacked in sheer style and finesse he made up for in heart, fire and a hero's luck. Maglie praised Burdette:
He kept that ball low again. He threw that pitch of his a couple of times. Maybe it isn't a spitter but it breaks down a lot sharper than a sinker, let me tell you.
The only time he came high they hit him, McDougald especially. That was Gil's hit that Covington took off the fence. That was a pretty spectacular catch, but I don't think it was a great catch. He made it, so you can't take anything away from him, but a real good outfielder would have caught it standing against the fence.
But he did catch it, and the Braves' once scorned infield added three sharp double plays to aid their Mr. Burdette to his great day. And it was his day. Lew's fine right hand may evoke controversy, but it was the prime force in shaping the Braves' new world and sending them eagerly back to New York for the Series finale.
GAME 1 THE MASTERY OF FORD
GAME 2 THE ORNERY MR. BURDETTE
GAME 3 RETURN OF THE HOMETOWN BOY
GAME 4 A DAY TO TRY 670,000 STOMACHS
GAME 5 IN LEW'S HEART A CITY FINDS ITSELF