JULY 22, 1957
The New York Yankee who graced our cover of July 22, 1957, had, in the words of comedian Jan Murray, "a face like a clenched fist." It was an apt description, for, grizzled countenance aside, Hank Bauer played baseball with the taut fury of a clenched fist. "When Hank came down that base path," Boston Red Sox shortstop Johnny Pesky once said, "the whole earth trembled."
Bauer was a typical Yankee of the Casey Stengel era, a hard man who played every game as if it would be his last. An ex-Marine who had won two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts during 32 months of World War II combat in the South Pacific, Bauer was keenly aware of his mortality. The war delayed the start of his 14-year major league career until he was 26, but he made the most of what remained. And he was at his clenched-fist best under the nerve-jangling pressure of a World Series.
In the 1958 Series, the last time before this fall that the Braves and Yankees met for the championship, Bauer was a hero. New York dropped the first two games in Milwaukee, then the Braves' home, and seemed overmatched by the pitching of Warren Spahn and Lew Burdette. But when the Series moved to Yankee Stadium, the old Marine took command, driving home all four runs in a Game 3 shutout. Spahn won the next day, halting Bauer's record 17-game World Series hitting streak, but New York swept the final three games to clinch the title. Bauer had 10 hits in the Series, four of them homers, and drove in eight runs.
That Series was Bauer's ninth and last as a Yankee, but he appeared in one more eight years later, when he managed the Baltimore Orioles to a four-game sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers. After finishing his managerial career in 1969, Bauer spent 11 years operating a liquor store near his home outside Kansas City before returning to the Yankees as a scout. Nine years later he left the game for good. "What got me out of baseball," he says, "were those guys who won't run 90 feet to first base."
Bauer is 74 now—"in the eighth inning of life," he says—a survivor of throat cancer who is content to fish, golf, stay at home with his wife, Charlene, and watch a little baseball on television. Still a Yankee at heart, he's pulling for New York in its long-awaited rematch with the Braves. "I like the Yankees, though they may have had too many days off," he said last week. "That never happened when I played." So he's hoping his old team will show a little of that clenched-fist spirit.