Yankees (David) top (slays) Cubs (Goliath) in nailbiting 1943 series PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dave Schwaller   
Sunday, 10 April 2011 13:10
Yankees GM Vance Violante has delivered to New York what none of his predicesors had, a World Series Title.  Oh wait, he did that in 1938, that’s right.  Oops, forgot about 1931 too.  Like delivering offerings of sacrifice to an angry, lava spewing volcano, these titles have been laid before ravenous Yankee fans – and they are satisfied.

Sacrifice is what it took this year for a team vastly different from most of the elite baseball clubs.  The Yankees were setup as a scrappy, station to station lineup with a mixture of veteran and young pitchers.  They’d need to play solid, mistake free ball and avoid injuries to have a chance.  Or at least that was the common opinion before the season, because injuries were one thing the Yankees had in excess.  Ace Leroy Matlock started the season on the DL from an elbow injury suffered the previous September.  Second year starter Eiji Sawamura wend down in April after a hot 4-1 start.  Jake Wade’s glass elbow blew up in May along with Joe Dobson’s finger.  This meant that the equivalent of a major league staff would be out the majority of the first half of the season.  Add Orie Arntzen as an August scratch and it was like 3 of the 4 starters were out the entire season.  If the pitching was held together with duct tape and bailing wire, the field positions needed only the occasional oil change.  All eight field positions were manned by the same player all year, with those players all taking the field for 130+ games.  Without huge power, they depended on leadoff man George Myatt to generate runs.  Team speed along with getting on base however possible made up for any lack of power and then some.  The Yankees had a major league leading 162 steals with Myatt chalking up 68 of those.  Opposing pitchers felt like they were swatting at hornets trying to survive those long innings on the mound.  How else could a team at the bottom of the list for homers, slugging, and extra base hits win it all?

The Yankees season started off hot.  After they went 17-11 in April, they followed with an 18-10 May to lead the AL East by nine games.  Tough to imagine that they’d be up only one game going into the last series against the Nationals, but winning the first two of that series handily crushed any doubt who was going to represent the AL East in the post season.  This momentum continued into the post season against the defending champion Detroit Tigers.  The Tigers are the anthisis of the Yankees, leading the league with 185 home runs, only three times the Yankees total.  Pitching is where the Tigers were vulnerable, but that was not why the Yankees won the AL pennant 4-2.  The Tigers outscored them 26-24 in the series.  After dropping the first two by wide margins, the Yankees came back and won the next four, two of them by 1 run, one of them a two run game and the fourth by three.  On the other side of the page, the NLCS was a see-saw battle.  Opening with a 6 hit shutout, Boston Braves ace Lefty LaMarque set the tone for the first four games.  Trailing three games to one, the Cubs pinned back their ears and finished with wins of 8-1, 6-1, and 10-1 to get to the World Series.

And all of this has been the prologue to what many are calling the best World Series played.  It started in Chicago, home of the 99-55 Cubs.  By record alone this should have been a 4-1 or 4-2 series win for the Cubs, but the Yanks had been through wars all year.  Game 1 featured 31 game and 6-time Joe Wood Award winner Dizzy Dean against Leroy Matlock.  Starting the series with a run in the first inning was a good sign for the Yankees, but they were hard to come by for both teams the entire series.  Matlock won this contest scattering 7 hits for the complete game shutout, 2-0.  Game 2 only had one more run than game 1, but this time it was the Cubs winning 2-1 on a Joe Greene solo shot in the 4th.  As a quick aside, home runs were quite the story in Chicago this year as the Cubs led the NL with 159.  The power combo of Hal Trosky and Hank Sauer circled the bases 83 times, Sauer 46 of those.  That’s right, we have a new single season home run leader, and his name is Hank Sauer.  The third year left-fielder now has 115, and his eyes are squarely on John Beckwith’s trophy.

The series then moved to the Bronx, where it was Dizzy’s turn for a shutout, also a 7-hitter for a 3-0 win.  Offense has been hard to come by for these clubs so accurate and mistake free play has become all that more important.  Down 2-1 in the series the Yanks now faced the younger Dean Paul for the second time.  Only tallying one run against him in game 2 and down 3-0 in the 5th is where the club needed some clutch performances.  After two walks and a flyout, Matlock came through with a hustle play to make Shoeless Joe proud.  He squeaked out a bunt single to load the bases to the cheers of the Yankee faithful.  Two pitches later Myatt laced a single to right field to score two and get the club back into the game.  They would get to Dean again in the 6th, with back-to-back doubles by George Benson (who the club got from the opposing Cubs last offseason, can you say payback?) and Ken Sears to tie the score at 3.  This roller coaster of a game continued to excite as the Cubs put together a patchwork run in the 7th.  All was quiet until the bottom of the 8th when Benson walked followed by a 2-run pinch-hit home run by Elmer Valo.  The 1939 first round draft pick of the Phillies made the most of the opportunity putting the Yanks up 5-4.  Fans never left their feet afterwards and a creshendo came from the stands when the 1943 AL Fireman Award winner Joe Haynes toed the mound in the 9th.  Haynes collected 21 saves in his 4th season for the pinstripes.  Piper Davis had something to say about what he thought the series outcome would be as he rifled a grounder past one of the all time great Yankees and future Hall-of-Famer Perucho Cepeda.  He was sacrificed to second by Patterson on the first pitch he saw and the tone of the crowd became anxious at best as they realized the top of the Cubs order was up.  After an Ethan Allen groundout failed to move Davis, Ted Petoskey took a 2-1 fastball and ripped it into left field.  Cubs rookie third base coack Don Zimmer did his best impression of a windmill and sent Davis.  Freshly inserted into the lineup at the top of the inning, defensive specialist Tommy Thompson scooped up the ball and fired an absolute laser to backup catcher Mike Guerra, who absorbed a vicious blow from Piper Davis, knowing it was his only chance at scoring.  The crowd was made to wait an excruciating 5 seconds as the home plate umpire circled the prone bodies before him searching for the ball.  Everyone exploded in unison as Guerra raised the ball in his right hand and Davis was punched out, finishing the game.  The Yankees stormed the field, Guerra, and Thompson and it was pandemonium in the crowd.  Quite possibly the best game in World Series history was over, but the series was not.  Premature celebration has been the bane of runner-ups since the time of the gladiators, and Violante was going to do everything he could to make sure that wouldn’t happen to his club.

Another nail biter was on tap for the following day, with the clubs trading the lead multiple times in another 5-4 gem that Tommy Thompson this time won with his bat, an 8th inning double to score Pennington.  Going back to Chicago with a day off in their back pocket was just what the doctor ordered for the Cubs.  Dizzy Dean took the ball and fired his second shutout of the World Series, this time a 5-hit performance that took him 10 innings.  Nick Strincevich matched Dean for nine innings, but after loading the bases in the 10th without getting an out, Haynes threw a wild pitch with Dean at the plate to allow Dixie Walker to cross the plate and even the series at 3.  It was the Cub faithful’s turn to go crazy, knowing that the deciding game would be at their house the next day.  Game 7 was a matchup between the younger Dean and Matlock, even though the rumors that the Cubs would start Dizzy even a day after a 10 inning shutout were confirmed by GM Mike Giovacchini.  Calmer heads prevailed and Dizzy was sent to the pen.  On this day it would be Matlock who was the story, both with his arm and his bat.  Four shutout innings and a 2-run homer are all Leroy put up before leaving the game in the 5th with a finger injury.  In the end the game was not much closer than the final 11-3 score, even with the Yankees exploding for 5 runs in the 9th.

The 1943 season is over, and a gritty Yankee club without a bonafide star is your champion.  Celebrations will go on throughout the weekend until the team parade on Monday, followed shortly by the expectation of another championship.  Looking at the players and the GM who put them in the position to succeed, who can doubt their ability to do it again next year.

Last Updated on Sunday, 10 April 2011 13:12