Yogi Berra has appeared in 14 World Series. He batted an anemic .188 in the first five Series that he played in. But despite Berra's lack of offense, the New York Yankees won all of them.
Then it began. In his final nine World Series, Yogi hit .335 with eight home runs and 31 RBIs. He was especially effective against the Yankees' primary rival, the Brooklyn Dodgers.
During the late 1940s and most of the 1950s, at least until the Dodgers left Brooklyn, the greatest rivalry in sports was between the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants. The Yankees-Dodgers rivalry was not far behind.
In those days, it was a disgrace for one New York team to lose to another. The Dodgers and Giants played each other 22 times during the season, and if either were fortunate enough to win the pennant, they would usually meet the Yankees in the World Series.
The Yankees and Giants met in 1921-23, 1936, 1937 and 1951. The Giants won twice. The Yankees won four times.
The Yankees and Brooklyn met in 1941, 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953 and 1955. Brooklyn won one. The Yankees won five.
The 1956 World Series was even more important than usual. Brooklyn had beaten the Yankees for the first time in the 1955 Series. The Yankees had to avenge that defeat. Brooklyn had to prove that 1955 was not a fluke.
The New York Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers had split first six games of the 1956 World Series.
The defending world champion Dodgers sent 27-game winner Don Newcombe to the Ebbets Field mound. The Yankees countered with 22-year-old Johnny Kucks, who had won 18 games.
Newcombe, who had won 20 games in Brooklyn's world championship 1955 season, had never beaten the Yankees. He started and lost twice against them in 1949, although he pitched decently. In 1955, Newk started once and was blasted for six runs on eight hits in only five and two-thirds innings. He hoped his second start would be better.
The Yankees routed Newk in the second game in 1956, belting him for six runs in only one and two-thirds innings.
One of the main culprits in preventing Newcombe from having won a World Series game was Yogi Berra, who had hit a home run off the big Brooklyn right-hander in the second game of the Series.
Yogi wasted no time. Hank Bauer led off the game with a single and stole second, but Newk struck out Billy Martin and his good buddy, Mickey Mantle.
Berra then hit a drive over the right field fence for a 2-0 Yankees' lead.
In the third inning, with the score still 2-0, the incomparable Martin singled to center field with one out, but Newcombe again struck out Mantle. Berra then hit a drive over the right field fence for a 4-0 Yankees' lead.
Kucks continued to hold the vaunted Brooklyn offense in check. Elston Howard led off the fourth inning with a solo shot that ended Newcombe's day.
Don Bessent came in to pitch and held the Yankees scoreless. Dale Mitchell, who has gone down in baseball history as the last out in Don Larsen's perfect game, hit for Bessent in the sixth. Roger Craig went to the mound.
Craig couldn't get anyone out.
Martin greeted the future New York Mets' 24-game loser with a single. Mantle walked. The runners moved up on a Craig wild pitch. Berra was intentionally walked for the second time in the game, bringing up Bill "Moose" Skowron.
The "Moose" hit a drive into the lower left field stands for a grand slam home run.
Kucks completed shutting out the Dodgers, and the Yankees were world champions for the first time since they had won a record fifth consecutive World Series in 1953.
Beiderman, Les. "Yankees Win Series, 9-0. Yogi Berra Smashes Two Two-Run Homers," The Pittsburgh Press. Oct. 10, 1956.