Of the others, Meusel, Combs and Lazzeri were excellent hitters, but Koenig and Dugan were only ordinary, and the catchers (there were three) were weak. The pitching, concentrated almost entirely in six men (including the great relief pitcher, Wiley Moore), was the best in the league.
But it may cause raised eyebrows to realize that such journeymen as Gazella, Wera, Durst, Thomas, Paschal, Giard, Grabowski, More-hart and Collins made up almost 40% of that great team's roster.
The 1936 club had much more of a top-to-bottom slugging lineup than the 1927 Yanks. Seven regulars hit home runs in double figures, the club set a new major league team record of 182 homers (24 more than in 1927) and it scored more than 1,000 runs (90 more than in 1927). This was the team of Gehrig, Lazzeri, Crosetti and Rolfe, of Dickey, of Ruffing, Gomez, Pearson and Murphy. The pitching was deep and extremely effective, Dickey hit .362, and Gehrig won the Most Valuable Player award, but the key man was Joe DiMaggio, in his rookie year. An outstanding fielder with a magnificent arm, a powerful batter and a great base runner, DiMaggio established the tone of the McCarthy-era Yankees: a quiet but brilliant all-round efficiency.
Casey Stengel's 1953 team was a far more jumbled group of players, geared, naturally, to the 25-man-squad platoon-style baseball that Casey had popularized after his return to the majors in 1949. Woodling, Mantle, Bauer and Noren were the outfielders, yet none played more than 126 games. Eight different men played shortstop at different times, and John Mize, ostensibly a first baseman, appeared in 66 games as a pinch hitter without having to use his first baseman's mitt. The major strength of the team was its pitching, with Whitey Ford returned from service and Allie Reynolds, the big man of the famous Reynolds-Raschi-Lopat triumvirate, operating out of the bullpen with devastating success the greater part of the year. These were the Yankees who beat the best Brooklyn Dodger team of all time in the World Series. They are the only team ever to win a fifth straight pennant and a fifth straight world championship.
Yet despite all—despite '27 and '36 and '53—who will swear that '58 is not the best of all?
1927 Front: Dutch Ruether, p; Joe Dugan, 3b; Ben Paschal, of; Ben Bengough, c; Myles Thomas, p; Mike Gazella, 3b; Ray Morehart, 2b; Ed Bennet, bat boy. Middle: Bob Shawkey, p; Joe Giard, p; John Grabowski, c; Charlie O'Leary, coach; Miller Huggins; Fletcher, coach; Herb Pennock, p; Jules Wera, 3b; Pat Collins, c. Back: Lou Gehrig, 1b; Bob Meusel, If; Babe Ruth, rf; Wiley Moore, p; George Pipgras, p; Earle Combs, cf; Miller; Waite Hoyt, p; Tony Lazzeri, 2b; Mark Koenig, ss; Urban Shocker, p; Cedric Durst, of; Doc Woods, trainer.
1936 Front: Lefty Gomez, p; Pat Malone, p; Red Rolfe, 3b; Bill Dickey, c; Myril Hoag, of; Don Heffner, if; Arndt Jorgens, c; Ted Kleinhans, p; Roy Johnson, of. Second row: Doc Painter, trainer; Mark Roth, secretary; Arthur Fletcher, coach; Earle Combs, coach; John Schulte, coach; George Weiss, farm director; Colonel Ruppert, owner; Joe McCarthy; W. Hershberger, c; V. Tamulis, p; Joe DiMaggio, cf; Lou Gehrig, 1b; Frank Crosetti, ss; F. Wattenberg. Third row: Joe Glenn, c; John Broaca, p; H. Walker; Kemp Wicker, p; Monte Pearson, p; Tony Lazzeri, 2b; N. Richardson, if; Bump Hadley, p. Back: Jack Saltzgaver, if; George Selkirk, rf; Waller Brown, p; Charlie Ruffing, p; Steve Sundra, p; John Murphy, p; Dixie Walker, of; S. Chandler, p. (Hershberger, Tamulis, H. Walker, Richardson and Chandler did not play with Yanks during regular season. Ben Chapman, cf, not in picture, was traded for Jake Powell, If, soon after the season began.)
1953 Front: Art Schallock, p; Whitey Ford, p; Billy Martin, 2b; Phil Rizzuto, ss; Yogi Berra, c; Steve Kraly, p; Frank Crosetti, coach; Casey Stengel; Bill Dickey, coach; Jim Turner, coach; Gil McDougald, 3b; Irv Noren, of; Gene Woodling, If; Charlie Silvera, c. Middle: Gus Mauch, trainer; Jim McDonald, p; Willie Miranda, ss; Jerry Coleman, 2b; Bob Kuzava, p; Bill Miller, p; Tom Gorman, p; Bill Renna, of; Gus Triandos, c; Vic Raschi, p. Back: John Mize, 1b; Ed Lopat, p; Andy Carey, 3b; Mickey Mantle, cf; Hank Bauer, rf; Ralph Houk, c; John Sain, p; Don Bollweg, 1b; Allie Reynolds, p; Joe Collins, 1b. Bat boys J. Carrieri and I. Manzidelis are in foreground.