For all of two hours and 46 minutes last Sunday the New York Yankees, the most famous last-place team in the long and glorious annals of the National Pastime, were in seventh place in the American League. The Yankees achieved this pinnacle of distinction through the efforts of the Detroit Tigers, who lost to Cleveland at precisely 4:01 p.m. E.D.T. and slid below the Yankees in the league standings. (This was only fair, since the Tigers were the dastards who had mauled the Yankees twice in Yankee Stadium earlier in the week to thrust the New Yorkers into the cellar.) The Yankees were overjoyed at this mad explosion of good fortune. They had been humiliated by the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night when Bob Turley had lost his poise, his control, his temper and his ball game, in that order. Now, in the first game of a Sunday double-header, they pommeled the Orioles 9-0, as they had pommeled them 13-5 on Saturday. Ah, breathed the suffering legion of Yankee fans. Damn, muttered the greedy army of Yankee-haters. Mickey was hitting like Mantle, Whitey was pitching like Ford, and the Yanks looked like the up-and-coming club of the league. Class, however, will tell. Baltimore clipped the Yankees in the second game, Detroit beat Cleveland. So, at 6:47 p.m. E.D.T., 95 minutes before the sinking sun sank, Detroit had risen once more to seventh, and the famous Yankees were again huddling dismally in the cellar.
Yankee slump twists Casey Stengel's face into irritated grimace as Detroit Tigers send Yankees spinning into last place. Sitting on bench, Bob Turley stares nervously out toward field, while Pitching Coach Jim Turner phones the bullpen to be on the alert.
Slipshod fielding, such as this play in which the usually reliable Gil McDougald boots and then follows the bouncing ball, aided the Yankees' descent to the bottom of the league. In losing two to the Tigers, New York made three errors while Detroit made none.
Up the ladder the Yankees climbed, led by a furious Mickey Mantle, shown here driving toward home on overthrow after stealing third in 13-5 rout of Baltimore Orioles.
May 31, 1959
Just like old times, Moose Skowron jogs toward his suddenly smiling teammates after hitting three-run homer. In fleeting two-game explosion in Baltimore, Yanks scored 22 runs, hit five homers.