Bill Skowron's Final World Series Performance Hurt the New York Yankees

Harold FriendChief Writer IApril 28, 2012

NEW YORK - JULY 19:  Former New York Yankee Bill 'Moose' Skowron looks on during the teams 63rd Old Timers Day before the game against the Detroit Tigers on July 19, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

"Batting sixth and playing first base, No. 14, Bill Skowron, No. 14."

Skowron stepped into the batter's box against the ace left-hander on the Yankee Stadium mound in the second inning of a scoreless game. There was a runner on second with one. The fans watched with eager anticipation.

The pitcher peered in to get the signal from his catcher, nodded assent and delivered. The "Moose" lined a base hit  to center field as the crowd let out a groan.

Skowron' base hit came at the expense of his good friend Whitey Ford. Mickey Mantle fielded the ball cleanly, but he had no chance of throwing out Frank Howard at the plate.

The Los Angeles Dodgers led the New York Yankees 1-0 in the first game of the 1963 World Series.

Following Skowron's single, weak-hitting Dick Tracewski singled and left-handed-hitting John Roseboro hit a three-run home run.

In the third inning, Skowron batted with runners on first and third and two outs. He hit his second single and drove in the Dodgers' fifth and final run.

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The Yankees had traded Skowron to the Dodgers over the winter in exchange for right-handed pitcher Stan Williams. It was a bad trade for the Yankees.

Skowron had trouble adjusting to the National League. He batted only .203 with four home runs in 89 games and was a little surprised when he started the first game of the Series.

"It was the nicest thing that has happened to me all year," Skowron told reporters after the Dodgers' 5-2 win.

"Let's face it. I was garbage all year. It's no secret that I would be traded this winter. So I surely didn't expect to play in the Series. And let's be honest. I didn't deserve to."

The modest Skowron didn't appreciate manager Walt Alston's baseball acumen. He knew that Skowron usually rose to the occasion.

In 1956, the "Moose" hit a grand slam home run in the seventh game of the 1956 World Series off Roger Craig to put the game away and give the Yankees the world championship.

Two years later, against Yankees' nemesis Lew Burdette of the Milwaukee Braves, Skowron hit a three-run home run in the eighth inning that produced an insurmountable 6-2 lead.

As a Yankee, Skowron, who was hampered by a bad back, batted .294/.346/.496. He averaged 121 games, 18 home runs and 75 RBIs a season, but according to Baseball-Reference's projection, Skowron averaged 25 runs and 101 RBIs over a 162-game season.

The Yankees won seven pennants and four world championships with Skowron at first base. He was greatly appreciated.

The Yankees and their fans knew how important his right-handed power was in providing balance to the batting order. He was better than many in the modern media will ever know.