SI Vault
Robert Creamer
October 13, 1958
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October 13, 1958

The Test Of The Champs

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THE "real game" was just that for the Braves—a beautifully pitched, decently hit, magnificently fielded victory—but for the Yankees it was a disaster. Once again Warren Spahn and Whitey Ford faced each other. This time, both pitched splendidly from the beginning. Ford gave up three hits in the first five innings, but he walked none. Spahn allowed only one hit in the five innings, but that was an immense triple that Mickey Mantle hit off the bleacher wall in left center field about 425 feet from home plate. Only an amazing fielding play by Red Schoendienst on Yogi Berra's subsequent line drive prevented Mantle from scoring (see photos above).

Then, in the top of the sixth, Whitey Ford's nightmare began. Schoendienst hit a long fly to left center. The left-fielder, Norm Siebern, seemed to spook Mickey Mantle off the ball and then failed to catch it himself. Result: the ball fell in and rolled on toward the fence, and Schoendienst ended up on third.

Stengel pulled his infield in to cut off the run. Logan hit a sharp grounder directly to Shortstop Kubek, and it went through Kubek's legs for an error, scoring Schoendienst. Next inning, with men on second and third and one out, Spahn lifted a soft Texas Leaguer to left field. Siebern this time played the ball safe, when all common sense dictated a diving attempt at catching the ball. It fell in for a single, and a second tainted run scored.

Ford persisted, and so did Siebern. Logan led off the eighth with a high fly fairly deep to left, near the seats. Siebern got under it, adjusted his sunglasses and lost sight of the ball. It bounced into the stands for a ground-rule double. Ford, staring in disbelief at the outfield, heaved a massive sigh. Stengel, sick with failure but not giving up, ran up on the dugout steps, clapped his hands, yelled encouragement and rolled his fists in the "hustle" sign. But Ford laid one in over the plate, and Mathews hit a long double to right, driving in the third run.

That was the end. Stengel mercifully took Ford out, later mercifully defended Siebern ("toughest left field to play in the league").

Spahn, meanwhile, his control perfect, used his fast ball as a knife, sticking it into various parts of the strike zone with mortal effect. After Mantle's triple in the fourth, only Bill Skowron, who singled in the seventh, reached base.

The Braves won 3-0, took a 3-1 lead in the Series, and moved confidently toward the denouement.


The series was over except for the formality of the coup de grâce, but listening to Casey Stengel talk in the Yankee dugout before the fifth game, you'd never have known it. He was losing three games to one (and since 1903 only one Series club, the 1925 Pittsburgh Pirates, had ever been able to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win), and here he was, amiably discussing pitching possibilities for the sixth game in Milwaukee.

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