Sunday, July 31, 2016

Common Demoninator: The Torres

"Last out of game six of the 1958 Fall Classic. Brother hit the first player to hit a home run in Atlanta Braves history."

Now, if you'd asked me that, I would have said "Hank Aaron or Eddie Mathews," but I know Aaron had singled in the Braves' last at bats in the bottom of the tenth inning of game six. Mathews struggled in the World Series that year (Hitting just .160 as his team lost in seven games to the Yankees), batted in that last inning and fanned. But he was just the second out as some dramatic stuff was going on.

The New York Yankees trailed 3-1 to the Milwaukee Braves in the 1958 World Series, and had lost to them in seven frustrating games the previous year. They simply couldn't hit Lew Burdette, who beat them three times. The trend seemed to continue in 1958, as Warren Spahn won game one at home and Burdette easily won the second game, 13-5. Mickey Mantle managed to hit two home runs off him, however.

Don Larsen and Ryne Duren combined on a 4-0 win in game three, as the action was now at Yankee Stadium. Spahn beat Whitey Ford 3-0 in game four, and suddenly, the Braves were just a win away. Burdette seemed poised to provide the coup-de-grace in game five, right there in front of the New York crowd. He battled Bob Turley, trailing only 1-0 through 5 1/2. But then the Yankees exploded for six runs in the bottom of the sixth. Turley finished with a shutout. It was heading back to Milwaukee.

The Braves led 2-1, but the Yankees made their move in the sixth again. In the top of that frame, Spahn couldn't get an out in time. The Mick singled. As did Elston Howard. Mickey motored to third on an error. Yogi Berra sent one of Warren's pitches to centre, and Mickey tagged, scoring the tying run. Ryne Duren sent the game into extras as he got the Braves 1-2-3 on K's in the bottom of the ninth.

Spahn came undone in the top of the tenth. His arm probably gave out. Gil McDougald homered to start it. Then, three singles made it 4-2, New York. The Braves needed two.

Red Schoendienst hit a grounder to second and nearly beat the throw. Two more outs was all the tall right-hander needed to square this World Series at three games each. Johnny Logan walked. Eddie Mathews fanned. Milwaukee was down to their last out, but Duren would not get it.

Duren seemed to forget about Logan, who took off towards second. No throw. Hank singled to left, and that lapse by the Yankees had cost them at least one run. 4-3. Joe Adcock bounced one into centre. Tying run ninety feet away. Winning run is any hit past the outfielders. That was it for Duren.

Bob Turley (1-1 in this Fall Classic), came in looking not for the win, but rather the save. The win would be Duren's if he could get pinch hitter Frank Torre out. But the team needed the win. I don't think Duren much cared. His job, to get the save, was now Turley's.

And Bob did just that.

Frank lined to Gil McDougald at second, the very man who'd broken the 2-2 tie in the top of the frame. Turley then came in relief of Don Larsen in game seven and beat Burdette and the Braves, 6-2. Coincidentally, it was Mathews that got on via a walk to start the bottom of the ninth. A single with two down gave the Yankees a tad of a scare. But then Schoendienst flied to Mantle in centre to end that.

Amazingly enough, that was it for the postseason as far as the Milwaukee Braves went. They nearly won in 1959, but it was the Los Angeles Dodgers that not only beat them in a two-of-three playoff, but won the Fall Classic, too.

The Braves soon had to deal with the Dodgers some more in the coming years, and after the Dodgers won again in 1963 and 1965, it was time for the Braves to make another move. They were in a Brave New World in Atlanta to start the 1966 season.

So on April 12th, 1966, in Atlanta, the Braves started their season in their new home. The Pittsburgh Pirates, who'd won the National League flag in 1960, were their opposition. Joe Torre was now their catcher. Frank had been purchased by Philadelphia after the 1961 season. He spent a good deal of time in the minors in 1963, then retired.

Joe proved to be the better of the two brothers, and this was long before his managerial career began.

But getting back to the Braves' first game in Atlanta, it was scoreless through 4 1/2. In the bottom of the fifth, with one out, Joe sent a Bob Veal pitch out of the park, making it 1-0 for the home team. With the Braves trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the 13th, Joe was again going downtown.

The problem was, there wasn't anyone on base again. The Pirates held on for a 3-2 win, just as the Yankees had held on in game six of '58.

The Braves finished their inaugural season in Atlanta with a 85-77 record. Joe finished the year with 36 home runs. Aaron hit 44. Felipe Alou hit 31, but Mathews hit only 16. He'd be elsewhere in 1967. Burdette and Spahn were long gone, and the pitching staff the Braves had wasn't gonna get them near the Dodgers that year. Sandy Koufax won 27 games alone, although Drysdale was only 13-16. Tony Cloninger and Ken Johnson led the Atlanta staff that year in wins with just 14 each.


Enders, Eric. 100 years of the World Series. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. 2005. Print.

Golenbock, Peter. "1958." Dynasty: The New York Yankees, 1949-1964. Lincolnwood, IL: Contemporary, 2000. Print. pp. 331-337.

Neft, David S., Richard M. Cohen, and Michael L. Neft. The Sports Encyclopedia: Baseball, 1992. 12th ed. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992. Print.

Neft, David S., and Richard M. Cohen. The World Series: Complete Play-by-play of Every Game, 1903-1989. 4th ed. New York: St. Martin's, 1990. Print. pp. 270-274.

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