1953 Baseball SeasonBaseball’s most watched team during the 1953 baseball season was the Braves -- the Milwaukee Braves. With air transportation facilitating travel, owner Lou Perini chose to move his Braves from Boston to Milwaukee. It was the first franchise shift since 1903. The success of the Braves in their new hometown, both on the field and at the gate, prompted other owners to consider changing cities. The Braves finished second to the Dodgers with a 92-62 record and drew a record 1,826,397 fans. Warren Spahn led the staff, topping the National League with 23 wins (tied with Robin Roberts of Philadelphia) and a 2.10 ERA, while sophomore third baseman Eddie Mathews broke Ralph Kiner’s seven-year hold on the league’s home run crown with 47 homers.
The Dodgers, however, fielded a remarkable team. MVP Roy Campanella had a .312 batting average, 41 homers, and a league-high 142 RBI. Duke Snider added a .336 average, 42 homers, and 126 RBI. It was the first time in National League history two players from the same team belted 40 or more home runs. The Dodger attack didn’t end there. Carl Furillo won the batting title with a .344 average; Jackie Robinson hit .329 with 95 RBI; Gil Hodges hit .302 with 31 homers and 122 RBI; and second baseman Junior Gilliam was named Rookie of the Year.
Brooklyn won a club-record 105 games, becoming the first team to repeat in the National League since the 1944 Cardinals.
Awaiting the powerhouse Dodgers in the World Series were the dreaded Yankees, who had a fine season themselves in the American League. New York won nine of its first 11 games, triumphed in 18 straight in May (one win shy of the American League record set by the White Sox in 1906), and took the pennant by 8-1/2 games over Cleveland with a 99-52 record. Casey Stengel became the first to manage five consecutive flag-winners. He did so with a sharp pitching staff. Twenty-four-year-old Whitey Ford returned from two years of military service to win 18 games, and Eddie Lopat led the league with a 2.43 ERA. Along with Allie Reynolds (38 years old), Vic Raschi (34), and Johnny Sain (35), the five hurlers combined for a 74-30 record. The hitting was strong as well. Yogi Berra racked up 27 home runs and 108 RBI, and Mickey Mantle clubbed 21 roundtrippers, including a 565-foot mammoth shot off Chuck Stobbs in Washington.
The Yankees were not the only story in the American League, however. Cleveland’s Al Rosen won the MVP Award after leading the junior circuit in home runs (43) and RBI (145) and finishing second in batting at .336. Bobo Holloman of the Browns hurled a no-hitter in his first major league start on May 6; with a 3-7 record in July, however, he was optioned to the minors, never to return to the bigs. Despite having a roster that boasted the batting champ (Mickey Vernon with a .337 average) and the pitcher with the most wins (Bob Porterfield with 22 victories), Washington placed fifth.
New York took a two-game lead in the World Series, winning game two on Mantle’s two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth. The Dodgers fought back, winning the next games 3-2 and 7-3, but Mantle’s grand slam won game five for the Yankees. In game six, Brooklyn tied the score three-all with two runs in the top of the ninth. But Billy Martin’s 12th hit of the Series-he finished with two homers, eight RBI, and a .500 average-scored Hank Bauer in the bottom of the inning to give the Yankees an all-time record fifth consecutive World Championship.