(For your reading pleasure adapted from REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUUM: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOUSE THAT RUTH BUILT)
The World Series competition for the Yankees in 1951 was the Giants of New York. They had a storybook season, chasing, catching and then conquering their hated rival Brooklyn Dodgers in a one-game play-off on Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World.”
EDDIE LOPAT: All the reporters told us to watch out. “The Giants are hot,” they said. “They beat the Dodgers coming out of nowhere.” We didn’t believe what anybody told us or what they printed in the newspapers. The other teams had to beat us on the field. That was where it counted.
MONTE IRVIN: We were still on a high after beating the Dodgers in 1951 in that playoff game when we went up against the Yankees in the World Series. Without a chance to rest, we reported to the Stadium the next day. I got four straight hits and also stole home in the first inning.
My last time up, Yogi Berra said: “Monte, I don’t know what to throw you. You have been hitting high balls and low balls and curve balls. I’m gonna have you get a fastball right down the middle."
I really didn‘t believe Yogi. But sure enough Reynolds threw me a fastball right down the middle. I hit a line drive. The ball was caught. I really wanted that hit. No one had ever gone five for five in the World Series.
Fielding the first black outfield in World Series history - Hank Thompson, Monte Irvin and Willie Mays - the Giants defeated Allie Reynolds and the Yankees 5-1 with Dave Koslo going the distance for the win.
STEVE SWIRSKY: I was ten years old and a Yankee fan. My dad didn't have a lot of money but he came home one day with two tickets for the second ’51 World Series game.
I remember everything about that day - the smells, the walking around to the little shops, my dad digging deep to buy a cap and a hot dog for me. It almost glowed in my heart 'cause I used to listen to the Yankee games on the radio from all over the country even though there were times I could barely hear it.
We sat down the left field line underneath the overhang - 20 rows back. In those days poles held up the overhang. My seat had an obstructed view. But you know how some women are about little boys . A woman switched seats with me so I could see. It was Willie Mays who hit the fly ball that Mantle, playing right field, chased. Mantle was not the superstar that he was going to be, but there was a big hush when he went down. It seemed like the world stopped.
The 19-year-old Mantle, attempting to avoid a collision with Joe DiMaggio, twisted his ankle in the fifth inning on a sprinkler-head cover protruding from the outfield grass. He lay there, motionless. His right knee had snapped and was he was lost to the Yankees for the rest of the series.
No matter – the Yankees were loaded with talent and though the Giants had momentum, it was another world championship for Stengel’s guys on October 10, 1951 as Vic Raschi bested Dave Koslo, 4-3 before 61,711. That was the last World Series game Joe DiMaggio ever played in.
I am at work on my newest effort - - REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY, a companion book to REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM (The Definitive Book) Fall 2008 (Abrams, STC). If you or those you know have specific stories and memories of times (first game, marker moments, oddity) at the Fens - please get in touch with me and hopefully we can set up a date and time for me to interview you. I would appreciate that.
Harvey Frommer is his 33rd consecutive year of writing sports books. The author of 40 of them including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM, an oral/narrative history (Abrams, Stewart, Tabori and Chang) was published September 1, 2008 as well as a reprint version of his "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball.". Frommer sports books are available direct from the author - discounted and autographed. FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in excess of one million and appears on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.