They meet again

Yankees, Phillies renew Fall Classic rivalry that began in 1950


October 28, 2009

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – The New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies are about to determine this year’s World Series champion.

For baseball fans alive some six decades ago, it’s déjà vu all over again.

The two franchises met in the Fall Classic for the first time in 1950. Instead of today’s stars like Derek Jeter, Ryan Howard, Alex Rodriguez and Chase Utley, the 1950 World Series rosters were dotted with such future Hall of Famers as Joe DiMaggio, Robin Roberts, Yogi Berra, Richie Ashburn and Whitey Ford.

Action from the 1950 World Series. (National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

In a matchup of perceived opposites, the 1950 Series pitted the “Whiz Kids” Phillies, dubbed so because of the youth of stars Roberts (23), Curt Simmons (21), Del Ennis (25) and Ashburn (23), against the experienced Bronx Bombers.

Shirley Povich, who was honored with the 1975 J.G. Taylor Spink Award for excellence in baseball writing, made it clear who he thought was the favorite: “I like the Yankees to win it, but I don’t possibly see how they can do it in less than four games.”

And though they would be swept in four games by the Yankees, the inspired youngsters of the Phillies were game throughout - losing the first three contests by one run each and the finale by three.

Jim Konstanty, who had pitched in relief all season, started Game One for Philadelphia and lost, 1-0, to Vic Raschi. Konstanty, who at the time lived 15 miles away from Cooperstown in Worcester, N.Y, gave up one run and four hits over eight innings. He won the National League MVP Award that year with a 16-7 record, 2.66 ERA, 22 saves in a modern big league record 74 appearances.

“He has gone as many as nine innings in relief this year – once he went 10,” explained Phillies manager Eddie Sawyer before the game.

Konstanty would end up working in three of the four games, including a seven-inning relief stint in Game Four.

Making his fourth start in nine days, Robin Roberts, a 20-game winner during the season, dropped a 2-1 decision to Allie Reynolds in Game Two when Joe DiMaggio homered into the left field stands at Shibe Park to lead off the top of the 10th inning. Roberts had helped the Phils win their first pennant since 1915 with a 10-inning win against the Brooklyn Dodgers on the last day of the season.

Artifacts from the 1950 World Series in the Hall of Fame's collection

  • Phillies jersey worn by Richie Ashburn 1950 season & World Series
  • Phillies jacket worn by Dick Sisler 1950 season
  • Baseball autographed by 1950 WS umpires
  • Wrist watch - "World Champs" in place of numbers on face. Also on face: NY Yankees 1950. On back: Yankees top hat logo and "George Weiss"
  • Yankees World Series Ring
  • Sterling silver compact belonging to Edna Stengel "World Champions 1950"

Game Three saw Philadelphia grab a lead for the only time in the Series when they broke a 1-1 tie with a run in the seventh inning, but the Yankees scored on an error to tie the game in the eighth and got the win in the bottom of the ninth thanks to two-out singles from Gene Woodling, Phil Rizzuto, and Jerry Coleman.

Yankees southpaw Ford, only 21 at the time, started the clinching game and got the win in the 5-2 decision. Ford, who was 9-1 down the stretch for New York after arriving in the late summer, had been pitching for the American Association’s Kansas City club just three months prior.

“To me it was like pitching any other game,” Ford said afterwards. “I had every possible thing a rookie could ask for this season, and today’s triumph topped it off.

“It was a great experience – the season, the Series and the excitement. I never thought when I started the season with Kansas City that I would be pitching the final game of the World Series.”

This would be the first of 10 World Series wins for Ford, the most in Fall Classic history.

Ultimately, it was pitching that helped the Yankees to their second consecutive World Series championship, as their pitching staff gave up three earned runs in 37 innings (0.73 ERA). Philadelphia’s five World Series runs were the least since the Philadelphia Athletics got only three in five games against the Christy Mathewson-led New York Giants in 1905, but they set a new mark for a four-game Series by beating the 1914 Athletics who scored only six.

“The Yankees are a pretty good club, but not much better than we are,” Sawyer remarked quietly after Game Four. “Every mistake we made hurt us, but you can’t win many games without runs. How many runs did we get? Five? That’s one and a quarter a game. You can’t win much on that. Pitching was the story of this series.”

For the Yankees it was their 13th World Series crown in 17 chances, and another sweep added to the ones achieved in 1927, 1928, 1932, 1938 and 1939.

Sawyer would eventually get to congratulate New York manager Casey Stengel in the Yankees’ clubhouse.

“I thought it was a whale of a series,” Stengel told Sawyer. “Three of those games could have gone your way as easily as ours.
“I’m only sorry we had to beat a swell gang like yours.”

Bill Francis is a Library Associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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