Oct. 9, 1958: When Yankees rewrite World Series history with their comeback

The Yankees run to mob Casey Stengel after beating the Milwaukee Braves in Game 7 of the World Series on Oct 9, 1958.

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Yankees fans cherish the 1958 World Series for multiple comebacks by the New York Yankees. After falling behind 3-1 in the series, the Yankees rallied to win three straight games and capture their 18th championship title and the seventh title in a decade of dominance. The Yankees had been tied 2-2 but they managed to score four runs in the eighth inning to win Game 7 and the World Series.

This victory was a turnaround making them the first team to win a World Series by winning the last two games on the road after losing three of the first four games. It also depicted another comeback for them after losing the 1957 titles to the Braves.

But what happened on October 9, 1958, was itself a history. That day witnessed a thrilling matchup between the New York Yankees and Milwaukee Braves in Game 7 of the 1958 World Series.

Yankees World Series comeback win

Lew Burdette, a former Yankee and the hero of the 1957 World Series took the pitcher’s mound for the Milwaukee Braves. Interestingly, he was the only one to receive cheers from the crowd when the lineups were announced. Burdette had a strong start, retiring the first three batters he faced. On the other hand, Don Larsen, who had been the hero of the 1956 World Series, faced difficulties right from the beginning, allowing a single to Red Schoendienst and walking Bill Bruton.

In a change from the usual lineup, Frank Torre batted third instead of Eddie Mathews for the first time in the series. Mathews, who struggled with just four hits in the first six games, was moved down to the sixth spot in the order. Torre made a crucial play, advancing both runners with a sacrifice. Hank Aaron followed with a walk, and Wes Covington gave the home team the lead with an RBI groundout. New York manager Casey Stengel took a risk by instructing his team to intentionally walk the slumping Mathews, potentially setting up a big inning for the Braves. However, Don Larsen managed to avoid deeper trouble by striking out Del Crandall.

The Yankees quickly bounced back, capitalizing on more defensive mistakes by Milwaukee. (The Braves had committed four errors in Game Six.) The second inning started with a walk to Yogi Berra, and then Frank Torre, typically a strong fielder, had two mishaps at first base in a row, committing consecutive errors while trying to make throws to Burdette covering first. This sequence loaded the bases with no outs. Bill Skowron tied the game with a groundout to short, bringing home the runner from third, and then Tony Kubek gave New York the lead with a sacrifice fly to Covington. Although Burdette managed to retire Larsen on a groundout to Schoendienst, he must have been frustrated to give up two runs on just one walk and two errors.

Larsen had his only strong inning in the bottom of the second, but Burdette managed to avoid trouble when Gil McDougald hit a double in the top of the third. Unfortunately for Larsen, he didn’t make it out of the third inning.

Bruton singled, Torre popped out, and Aaron singled, advancing Bruton to second. It was clear that Larsen was struggling, and New York’s manager, Casey Stengel, didn’t hesitate to make a change, possibly due to Larsen’s elbow issues. In came Bob Turley, who had faced some challenges in Game Two but had bounced back with a win in Game Five and a save in Game Six. Turley managed to retire Covington on a weak ground ball in front of the plate. Then, after intentionally walking Mathews again, Turley faced a tough situation when Crandall hit a line drive that deflected off Turley’s glove. The ball changed direction, but McDougald, who had initially moved towards second base when the ball was hit, quickly adjusted and made a skillful play to get Crandall out, ending the inning.

In the fourth inning, the Yankees had a chance to increase their lead when Elston Howard singled and then stole second base. Unfortunately, Jerry Lumpe’s ground ball to third base didn’t move the runner, and Bill Skowron’s fly ball to Bruton didn’t cause any trouble. Following a strategy similar to Stengel’s, Milwaukee’s manager, Fred Haney, decided to walk Tony Kubek intentionally, and Turley hit into a force play, bringing an end to the potential scoring opportunity.

There were no more base runners for either team until the bottom of the fifth inning. Frank Torre drew a walk with one out, but then Hank Aaron hit into a double play, with the second baseman throwing to first to complete it.

Burdette had retired seven consecutive batters when the Braves came to bat in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs, Del Crandall, who struggled earlier in the game and left six runners on base, hit a solo home run to even the score at 2-2.

The Yankees’ seventh-inning miracle

Skowron ended Burdette’s streak with a leadoff single in the seventh inning. He advanced to second base with two outs after a sacrifice by Turley, but Burdette managed to get Bauer to pop out to Mathews, keeping the score tied as they entered the bottom of the seventh. Turley then quickly retired three Milwaukee batters with ground balls in a smooth inning.

After Skowron’s single, Burdette retired the next five Yankees in succession and appeared to have his former teammates well in check. The syndicated columnist Red Smith portrayed Burdette as a large, maybe somewhat unclean West Virginia hillbilly with a clever sense of humor and a deliberate pitching style, using all the tools that nature, a fighting spirit, and 32 years of life have provided him. He held New York at bay for seven innings, almost single-handedly.

However, things quickly took a turn for the worse for the Braves in the eighth inning of the game, the season, and the series. With two outs, Berra hit a double, described as a bad pitch, high and inside by Burdette. It was a hit that came very close to being a tiebreaking home run. Right after that, Howard hit a bouncing single just out of Johnny Logan’s reach behind second base, scoring Berra and giving New York a 3-2 lead. Andy Carey, who had taken Lumpe’s place in the lineup in the bottom of the sixth, hit a line drive single off Eddie Mathews’ glove, putting two runners on base with two outs for Skowron.

Moose Skowron delivered a decisive blow with a three-run homer that significantly widened the gap, giving the Yankees a commanding 6-2 lead. Burdette, reflecting on the pitch, admitted, it was a poor pitch that he gave Skowron. It was a slider—the same kind he struggled with before—but this time he placed it too high, according to him. Skowron himself acknowledged that it probably would have been an out in Yankee Stadium.

Kubek struck out to conclude the disastrous inning for Milwaukee, putting them in a challenging position late in the game. If the Braves had only needed one run to tie, they might have had a chance to recover, but four runs put them in an almost impossible situation, much like the biblical story of Cain and Abel.

Turley, as noted by Yogi Berra, who was behind the plate catching him, seemed to be pitching faster than he had in the past. In the eighth inning, he efficiently retired the Braves’ 3-4-5 hitters, getting them out in order with just nine pitches.

Don McMahon, pitching for the Braves, managed to strike out the first two batters for New York in the ninth inning. However, he then allowed a single to Gil McDougald and a walk to Mickey Mantle. Fortunately for the Braves, Yogi Berra grounded out, leaving both runners stranded on base.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Milwaukee needed four runs to tie the game. Eddie Mathews started with a walk, but Del Crandall and Johnny Logan both flew out. Then, with two outs, Joe Adcock came in to pinch-hit and singled, putting two runners on base. Red Schoendienst stepped up to bat, and Bill Bruton, the next batter, represented the tying run. Red hit a line drive toward center fielder Mickey Mantle. On the pitcher’s mound, Bob Turley raised both of his hands to shoulder level and waited anxiously. Mickey Mantle caught the ball, and Turley’s arms shot overhead in celebration. He even leaped off the ground, showing his excitement and joy.

In a column that was published in multiple newspapers, former star catcher Roy Campanella expressed his sympathy for Lew Burdette. He stated that Burdette didn’t deserve the unfortunate outcome. According to Campanella, Burdette truly gave it his all on the pitcher’s mound, and he could have won if his Braves teammates had provided him with better offensive support.

Similar to how the Yankees avenged their loss to the Dodgers in 1955 by defeating them in 1956, they turned the tables on Lew Burdette and the Milwaukee Braves by winning in 1958 after their defeat in 1957. Unfortunately, the Milwaukee Braves would never return to the World Series, and it would be until 1982 that a Milwaukee team would make it to the World Series again.

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