1958 WS: Warren Spahn Outlasted Whitey Ford and the New York Yankees

Harold FriendChief Writer IAugust 29, 2011

Whitey Ford
Whitey Ford

The New York Yankees and Milwaukee Braves met for the second consecutive year in the 1958 World Series. The defending World Champion Braves were confident of becoming the first National League team to win consecutive World Championships since the New York Giants had done it in 1921-22.

The day before the opening game, Yankees manager Casey Stengel told reporters that he was not going to follow the advice he was given by some of his National League friends, which he had done in 1957.

Stengel, who spent 22 years in the Senior Circuit, stubbornly refused to name the friends who had told him which pitchers he should match up against Warren Spahn and Lew Burdette as well as how his batters should hit against the Braves pitchers.

A testy, belligerent Stengel animatedly told writer Louis Effrat, "Those intelligent people in the National League ...haven't figured out how to hit Burdette."

Stengel paused for an instant before continuing.

"Spahn and Burdette—who's going to advise me how to beat them? Spahn has won 20 games nine times. Burdette has proved he's a good pitcher. They said he wouldn't beat me three times, but he did."

Whitey Ford and Mickey Mantle jogged over to Stengel and Effrat. Ford had a big grin. By merely looking at Stengel, Ford knew what he was ranting about. He volunteered some information.

He told Effrat that he wouldn't start to get nervous until the next morning, "but the butterflies will vanish after my first pitch." Warren Spahn would be the Braves' starter.

When the first game was over, Braves fans were ecstatic. The Braves had taken a big stride in their attempt to beat the Yankees for a second consecutive season.

Spahn hurled a complete game that the Braves won, 4-3 in 10 innings.

Bill Skowron, who missed almost all of the 1957 World Series with a bad back, hit a two-out home run in the fourth inning to stake Ford to a 1-0 lead that was short-lived.

Hank Aaron walked to lead off the Braves fourth. Ford retired the next two batters, but then the Braves changed their tactics against the Yankees' left-hander.

Realizing that Ford had been getting ahead by throwing his first pitch in the strike zone, the Braves started to swing at it.

Del Crandall, Andy Pafko and Spahn swung at Ford's first delivery. Each batter produced a single. By the time Ford adjusted, he was trailing, 2-1.

The Yankees weren't behind for long. Ford drew a one-out walk and Hank Bauer clouted a home run to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead.

Ford kept the Braves bats silent for the next three innings but in the eighth, he walked Eddie Mathews to lead off the inning. Hank Aaron hit a deep drive to the opposite field that sent right fielder Hank Bauer to the railing. Bauer got his glove on the ball but couldn't hold it.

Mathews on third represented the potential tying run and Aaron on second represented the potential lead run.

Before the Series started, the Braves bravely announced that Yankees relief ace Ryne Duren, who threw harder than any pitcher in baseball and who wore thick glasses because he could hardly see the batter, was just another pitcher.

Stengel was going see if they were right.

Ford was removed after pitching seven innings. He allowed two runs and struck out eight, but the runners on second and third were his responsibility. Depending on what Duren did, Ford could still have been the winner or the loser.

Duren was good, but not good enough.

He struck out Joe Adcock for the first out, but Wes Covington hit a drive to deep left-center where Mantle made a great play for the second out. Mathews tagged up with the tying run. Duren then struck out Crandall to retire the side.

Neither team scored until the 10th inning.

Duren struck out Aaron leading off but Adcock singled. Covington then hit a deep drive to left field that Elston Howard caught with his back to the railing for the second out. It was the last out Duren would get.

Del Crandall singled Aaron to second, Billy Bruton lined one into deep right center and the Braves won the first game.

Ford had pitched a fine game. It was a typical Whitey Ford performance, but unlike the opener in 1957 when Ford bested Spahn, this time he lost to Spahn.


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