Billy Martin picked up where he had left off the year before.
In the seventh inning of the seventh game of the 1952 World Series, Martin had made a spectacular catch of a wind-blown Jackie Robinson pop-up with the bases loaded and two outs to save the game and World Series.
Three Hits in the First Game
In the first game, the Yankees loaded the bases in the first inning against the pride of Flatbush, Carl Erskine. Martin cleared them with a triple.
He had a bunt single in the fourth inning, and he singled, stole second, and scored in eighth. The Yankees won a slugfest, 9-5.
Roy Campanella Refuses X-Rays
There was a fascinating sidelight to the game that illustrates how things have changed.
Allie Reynolds hit Roy Campanella on the right hand in the second inning.
Brooklyn's team physician, Dr. Eugene Zorn, thought that Campy had a small fracture on the little finger knuckle, but the burly Brooklyn catcher refused to have his hand X-rayed.
"Nobody's gonna X-ray this hand. I don't care if there's 14 joints busted. It'll be all right if I don't know it."
Billy Martin's Home Run Ties Game Two
Campanella was behind the plate in the second game, which the Yankees won on home runs from Billy Martin and his friend, Mickey Mantle.
With the Yankees trailing, 2-1, Billy, who had singled earlier, led off the seventh with a drive near the left field foul pole, just beyond the reach of Jackie Robinson to tie the game.
Mantle's two-run home run the next inning was too much for Brooklyn to overcome. The Yankees won, 4-2.
Brooklyn and Campy Were Depressed
Brooklyn and Campanella were depressed. Campy was not pleased when asked if his hand had affected his swing.
"You saw me out there. You saw I couldn't swing right. If I can't grip a bat I can't swing and I can't hit."
There was speculation that Rube Walker would replace Campanella behind the plate when the series switched to Brooklyn the next day. The speculators were wrong.
Campanella insisted that he play, and his performance showed that Martin didn't have a monopoly on heroics.
Martin Wasn't the Only Hero
With the game tied, 2-2 in the eighth inning, Campanella hit a one-out home run, which was all Carl Erskine needed. Yes, "Oisk" started on one day's rest since he didn't pitch much in Game One.
On this day, Erskine struck out 14 Yankees, including Mickey Mantle four times, to a set a new World Series single-game strikeout record.
Martin almost ruined Erskine's day.
Billy Excelled, But the Yankees Lost
Billy walked in the second, singled in the fifth for his sixth hit of the series, and almost turned the game around the next inning.
With the game tied at 1-1, Yogi Berra led off with a single. After both Mantle and Woodling struck out, Billy hit a drive to deep right center field.
Center fielder Duke Snider and right fielder Carl Furillo converged, and it appeared that both outfield greats had lost the ball in the afternoon sun, but at the last possible moment, Furillo made a lunging catch of Martin's bid for an extra base hit.
Brooklyn hung on to win, 3-2, as Erskine went the route.
Martin Tripled But Was the Game's Last Out
The fourth game was played on a beautiful Indian summer afternoon.
Brooklyn greeted Whitey Ford with three runs in the first inning and were never behind. With the Yankees trailing by four runs in the fifth inning, Billy Martin tripled and Gil McDougald hit a home run, but it was not enough.
Trailing by five runs in the ninth inning, Gene Woodling and Martin singled, and Gil McDougald walked with no outs.
Clem Labine relieved Billy Loes to face Phi Rizzuto. Labine struck out Phil and got pinch-hitter Johnny Mize on a short fly ball to center field, bringing up Mickey Mantle.
Billy's best friend singled to left, scoring Woodling, but Martin foolishly tried to score. Defensive replacement Don Thompson fired a strike to Roy Campanella, and the game was over.
Billy Insisted it Was the Right Play
Billy knew that the run he carried was insignificant unless the Yankees scored more, but he insisted that he and third base coach Frank Crosetti, who waved him home, made the right play.
"First of all, I was told to go by Frankie Crosetti, who hadn't been wrong all year, coaching at third base.
Secondly, I never dreamed Thompson had a chance to throw me out at the plate. He must have made a terrific play.
I was the most surprised guy in the world when I reached home and found Campanella blocking the plate and waiting for me with the ball.
Suppose Gil had continued to run. We would have had a traffic jam."
The Yankees Win the Fifth Game
Brooklyn had tied the series, but they were finished winning games.
The Yankees won the fifth game handily when Mickey Mantle, Gene Woodling, Gil McDougald, and Martin hit home runs. Brooklyn made a late run at the Yankees, but Allie Reynolds saved the game before anyone knew about saves.
Carl Furillo's Ninth Inning Home Run
Back at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees led Brooklyn, 3-1 in the ninth inning, but Brooklyn was a great team that would never back down.
Allie Reynolds, who replaced Ford in the eighth, got Gil Hodges on a fly ball to Mantle.
The Duke of Flatbush, Mr. Snider, walked, and Carl Furillo hit a drive to right field that barely made it into the stands to tie the game.
Reynolds then struck out Billy Cox and pitcher Clem Labine.
Billy Ends It
Hank Bauer led off the Yankees' ninth with walk. Berra lined out to Furillo in right, but Mantle singled Bauer to second, bringing up Billy Martin.
Mickey's pal hit a ground ball past the mound, over second, into center for a base hit. Bauer scored the World Series winning run on Billy Martin's record 12th hit.
The Yankees' second baseman, who batted .257 during the season, produced one of the most exciting performances in World Series history to lead the Yankees to their fifth consecutive World Championship.
Beating Brooklyn was a lot more difficult than the game results reveal.
By JOHN DREBINGER. (1953, October 1). 69,374 SEE YANKS BEAT DODGERS, 9-5, IN SERIES OPENER. New York Times (1857-Current file),p. 1. Retrieved October 11, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 84064698).
By ROSCOE McGOWEN. (1953, October 1). Campanella May Have Broken Bone in Hand, but He's Determined to Play :CATCHER REFUSES TO PERMIT X-RAYS. New York Times (1857-Current file),p. 38. Retrieved October 11, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 84064988).
By JOHN DREBINGER. (1953, October 2). YANKS TOP DODGERS 2D TIME IN ROW, 4-2, ON MANTLE'S HOMER :Hit With One On in 8th Beats Roe After Martin's 4-Bagger in 7th Ties Series Game. New York Times (1857-Current file),1. Retrieved October 11, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 92747532).
By ROSCOE McGOWEN. (1953, October 2). Walker Likely to Replace Campanella When Series Moves to Brooklyn, New York Times (1857-Current file),25. Retrieved October 11, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 92748068).
By JOHN DREBINGER. (1953, October 3). DODGERS WIN, 3-2, AS ERSKINE FANS 14 FOR SERIES RECORD :He Breaks 24-Year-Old Mark, CAMPANELLA HITS HOMER Clout Off Raschi in 8th Snaps 2-All Tie.. New York Times (1857-Current file),1. Retrieved October 11, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 84425922).
By JOHN DREBINGER. (1953, October 4). DODGERS WIN 7-3 TIE SERIES AT 2-2. New York Times (1857-Current file),S1. Retrieved October 15, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 92749497).
By LOUIS EFFRAT. (1953, October 4). Martin Insists He Was Right in Trying to Score on Mantle's Hit in the Ninth :THOMPSON THROW SURPRISED BILLY. New York Times (1857-Current file),S3. Retrieved October 15, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 92749517).