1958 World Series: Whitey Ford Lost, but Joe Girardi Wasn't Upset

Harold FriendChief Writer IDecember 4, 2011

Joe Girardi was Proud of C. C. Sabathia
Joe Girardi was Proud of C. C. SabathiaNick Laham/Getty Images

Joe Girardi would have been satisfied. For Mr. Girardi as well as for most of today's managers, all that they ask their starting pitcher to do is to give their team a chance to win.

Whitey Ford gave the New York Yankees a chance to win.

The problem was that the Yankees lost the fourth game of the 1958 World Series to the Milwaukee Braves.

One more win and the Braves would become the first team since the 1921-22 New York Giants to beat the Yankees in consecutive World Series.

Unlike Mr. Girardi, Casey Stengel was not satisfied that Ford had given the Yankees a chance to win. Stengel could achieve satisfaction only if Ford had won.

It is ridiculous for managers, especially for the Yankees' manager, to be satisfied with anything less than victory. The difference is that in 1958, there were no ersatz "winners." A team either won the pennant or went home.

For the Yankees, winning the pennant was the first step to the world championship. From 1947-58, there were 10 pennants. The only World Series defeats occurred in 1955 to the Brooklyn Dodgers and in 1957 to the Milwaukee Braves.

Since 2001, the Yankees have made the playoffs every season but 2008. They have won the World Series only once. The playoffs give inferior teams the chance to win (see the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals or the 2003 Florida Marlins).

When Ford took the mound on Sunday, Oct. 5, 1958, his goal was to beat Warren Spahn, who had the same objective.

The year before, Ford lost the pivotal fifth game to Lew Burdette and the Braves 1-0.

Second baseman Jerry Coleman failed to charge a ground ball that allowed Eddie Mathews to reach first base on what was scored a single. Hank Aaron singled Mathews to third and Joe Adcock singled to drive in the game's only run.

After the game, neither Casey Stengel nor Ford said that at least Ford had given his team a chance to win. Burdette was a winner and Ford, who really did pitch well enough to win, came up a loser.

Despite the claim of many modern psychologists, everyone is not a winner. Logically, in a contest, if there is a winner, there must be a loser.

Spahn beat Ford 3.0 in the fourth game of the 1958 World Series. The Yankees' ace gave up the three runs, two of which were earned. He deserved a better fate.

Ford and Spahn matched zeroes until Red Schoendienst led off the sixth with a fly ball to left center field that fell between Siebern and Mickey Mantle. It appeared that either one could make the catch, but they backed away from each other at the last second.

Siebern overran the ball, which rolled to the wall, allowing Schoendienst to leg out what was ruled a triple.

Johnny Logan followed with a ground ball to shortstop that went through Tony Kubek's legs. Schoendienst scored the first run of the game.

It was unearned because Eddie Mathews, the No. 3 hitter in the Braves batting order, bunted a pop fly that Ford snared. Hank Aaron forced Logan for what would have been the third out.

In the eighth inning, Siebern misjudged a fly ball that went for a double and led to the Braves second run.

Johnny Logan hit a high fly ball near the left-field foul line. At the last second, Siebern lost track of the ball, which landed safely in fair territory and bounced into the stands for a ground rule double. Mathews doubled him home and that was it for Ford.

He certainly gave his team a chance to win. Joe Girardi would have been proud.