During the last week of Aug. 1954, the New York Yankees trailed the first place Cleveland Indians by five and one-half games. If they managed to overcome the Tribe's lead, the Yankees would win their sixth consecutive pennant, and have the opportunity for their sixth consecutive world championship.
The great sportswriter, Robert Creamer, in a 1954 Sports Illustrated article detailed the impressive record the Yankees had compiled.
Since the first pennant in 1921, no more than three seasons ever passed without the Yankees winning one of their next 19 pennants. From 1923-1953, they won 18 pennants and 16 World Series. Yes, they were 16-2 in the World Series after losing the first two to the New York Giants in 1921, and again in 1922.
The Yankees remained within hailing distance of the Indians when the teams met in a crucial doubleheader at Cleveland's Municipal Stadium on Sept. 12, 1954.
The Indians were six and one-half games ahead of the Yankees at the end of play on Sept. 11. The Yankees were in Cleveland to play a doubleheader that they had to sweep.
The Indians won both games to end the Yankees' hope of winning their sixth consecutive pennant.
I listened to the doubleheader on 1010 WINS radio in New York because Yankees road games were not televised in New York.
It was not a happy experience.
Bob Lemon, who would manage the 1978 world champion Yankees, pitched a complete game, winning 4-1. Whitey Ford had started for the Yankees, allowing only one run in six innings, but with the score 1-1 in the seventh inning, Casey Stengel went for the lead.
With one out and Andy Carey on first, Eddie Robinson, a left-handed home run threat, batted for Ford against the Tribe's right-hander. Lemon retired him on a fly ball to right field and then got Gil McDougald on a fly ball to left field to end the inning.
The Indians roughed up Allie Reynolds in their half of the seventh and went on to win the game.
Early Wynn and Tommy Byrne each pitched complete games in the nightcap, but the Indians scored three runs in the fifth inning to overcome a 2-0 Yankees lead. Wynn held on and the Yankees were finished.
Since 1954, the Yankees have won 20 more pennants, but they have won only 11 World Series for an overall 27-13 mark.