Tag Archives: New York Yankees

Tommy Henrich was old, reliable and clutch

Yankees outfielder Tommy Henrich was known as Old Reliable, which in my book is about as good a nickname as one could be given. Henrich wasn’t a megastar of the Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle or Joe Dimaggio level, but he was quite good, and he was quite good when it mattered.

I connect with Henrich for a couple of reasons. For one, he’s one of the first old-time ballplayers whose autographs I can remember getting in the late 1980s at baseball card shows held in airport hotels in New York. I’m pretty sure the Kodak photo of him that’s somewhere in my parent’s apartment featured him smoking a pipe (I should note – he lived to 96). And he hit the first World Series walk-off home run, beating the Dodgers in Game 1 in 1949.

The 1949 season is a significant one in Yankees history, because it marks the start of one of their great dynasties. The Yankees won five straight World Series from 1949 to 1953.

How did that run begin? With a walk-off, of course.

The Yankees opened on April 19 of that season against the Senators. Opening Day was the first opener for the Yankees since Ruth died and he was paid proper tribute both before the game and by how it ended. The Yankees were also without Joe DiMaggio, who was battling a heel injury.

The Senators were the opposite of the Yankees. They won on their opening day in Washington D.C. (by walk-off, actually) but didn’t win much else. They finished 50-104. Thus what I tell you probably won’t surprise.

The Senators hung gamely with the Yankees, taking a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning. But with two on and two outs, Yogi Berra’s pinch-hit single scored Phil Rizzuto to tie the game (Berra didn’t start because he had the flu).

The Senators went six up and six down in the eighth and ninth innings, giving the Yankees a shot to pull the game out in the ninth. Phil Rizzuto grounded out and Gene Woodling popped out. That brought up Henrich, who was 0-for-4. What was great about Henrich that season was that though he was 36 years old, he could still hit like he was in his 20s. He’d hit .287/.416/.526 and place sixth in the AL MVP voting.

That wasn’t known at the time. What was known was that Henrich was both old and reliable. He hit seven home runs in 63 at-bats in what Baseball-Reference.com deems “late and close” situations (this qualified). This would be the first. He set the tone for the Yankees season with a long game-winning home run to right center field.

”It was a perfect ending, one that must have drawn a booming roar from the Babe, away up there in the heavens.”
— Joe Trimble, New York Daily News

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The best Red Sox walk-off win vs the Yankees that you don’t know

Sabermetrician Tom Tango pointed me to a box score I find rather astounding and the story of which seems worth telling.

On September 5, 1927, the Yankees and Red Sox played in one of their most remarkable meetings at Fenway Park. Now keep in mind that these were the vaunted 1927 Yankees, who would go on to win the World Series and be crowned as one of the greatest teams of all-time. At the time, they were 90-38 and the Red Sox were 40-86. The Yankees were talking of who would start Game 1 of the World Series. The Red Sox were ready to be done.

This was the first game of a Labor Day doubleheader and one that attracted a huge crowd, with more than 36,000 in the stands. Some fans spilled on to the playing field, which was not unusual in those days. They were roped off, with any ball hit into that crowd ruled a ground-rule double. In the next day’s Boston Globe, the legendary sportswriter Grantland Rice lamented the lack of an AL pennant race killed attendance in multiple cities, but not on this day.

The Red Sox started Red Ruffing, a fourth-year pitcher, who showed none of the signs of greatness he’d later show with the Yankees in becoming a Hall-of-Famer. The Yankees started one of their secondary starters, George Pipgras.

This one was crazy from the start, with the Yankees leaving the bases loaded in the top of the first when Tony Lazzeri struck out, and the Red Sox scoring three times in the bottom of the inning.

Lazzeri avenged that in the third inning when he singled in the go-ahead run, two batters after Lou Gehrig matched Babe Ruth with his 44th home run of the season. That was a huge story at the time, as the two chased Ruth’s all-time record of 59. Gehrig did not keep pace much longer. He finished with 47 home runs. Ruth hit 60 (“let’s see some SOB match that,” he said after hitting his 60th).

The Yankees extended the lead to 6-3, but the Red Sox scored four in the fourth, chasing Pipgras with a pair of bases-loaded walks. They’d add another run to go ahead of the Yankees 8-6 in the fifth.

That held up until two outs in the ninth inning. Ruffing had stayed in the game and needed to just retire Earle Combs to end the game. No such luck. Combs hit a two-run ground-rule double.

Ruffing stayed in the game, because that’s what pitchers did back then. Except he stayed in the game for awhile. Ruffing held the Yankees at bay through the 15th inning. His pitching line is bizarre: 15 innings, 8 runs, 16 hits, 12 strikeouts and 11 walks.

Reliever Wilcy Moore was likewise good for the Yankees, pitching eight stellar innings. Moore was an early version of a closer, though this early version pitched 213(!) innings over 50 appearances that season, and recorded 13 saves (saves awarded retroactively, using the current rule).

In the 17th inning, the Yankees scored three runs against Hal Wiltse. Combs singled in a run. Ruth plated a run by reaching on an error. Gehrig singled in a run. That put the Yankees ahead 11-8 and if you think about it, their win probability should have been 100%. They were about 50 games better than the Red Sox AND had a three run lead with three outs to go.

Alas, this is baseball and sometimes the team with a 0% chance of winning surprises you. The Red Sox scored three against the combination of Moore AND Yankees ace starter Waite Hoyt, who was one of the top starters in baseball that season. The tying run came in on a hit by Bill Moore, one of 18 hits in a career in which he hit a less-than-robust .207.

Given a second life, Wiltse made the most of it. He escaped the 18th inning unscathed. And in the bottom of the 18th, back-to-back ground-rule doubles into the roped-off crowd by Buddy Myer and Ira Flagstead brought home the run the made the Red Sox the unlikeliest of winners.

Go figure!

One more unusual Yankees-Red Sox walk-off

Alright, let’s do one more from the weird walk-offs file in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.

The Yankees-Red Sox game on September 28, 1987 was a doozy. A meaningless doozy, but a doozy nonetheless. Neither team was in the race for the division lead. Based on my reading of the next day’s newspapers, it’s safe to say both squads were playing out the string.

The Red Sox scored five runs in the top of the first inning, and neither team would have probably minded if the game had stopped right there. Attendance was sparse, at least per the Boston Globe which likened it to a crowd from the Horace Clarke 1960s days. Mike Greenwell doubled in two runs. Jody Reed tripled in three. After Sam Horn homered in the fourth inning, the score was 7-0 Red Sox.

The Yankees chipped away gradually. Rickey Henderson homered in the sixth inning. Willie Randolph and Don Mattingly each drove in a run in the seventh. The score was now 7-3. The Red Sox didn’t help themselves, failing to score with the bases loaded and no outs in the seventh and after putting the first two men on base in the eighth inning.

It was still a four-run lead for Boston entering the bottom of the ninth. But not for long. A double and walk started things for the Yankees and chased Jeff Sellers in favor of Wes Gardner. That didn’t help.

Gardner walked Willie Randolph to load the bases. Don Mattingly followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 7-4. Dave Winfield then doubled and suddenly it was 7-5. Out went Gardner, in came Joe Sambito to pitch to Mike Pagliarulo try to close the deal (Sambito’s an agent now). Yankees manager Lou Piniella countered with veteran infielder Jerry Royster as a pinch-hitter. Royster came through, doubling home two runs to tie the game.

How many pitchers can combine to cough up a baseball game? In this case, the answer was four. Calvin Schiraldi replaced Sambito. Piniella sent up another pinch-hitter, lefty-swinging Mike Easler to bat for Gary Ward.

Easler, known as Hit Man, had three at-bats left in his 15-year major league career. He went out in memorable fashion in this game, hitting a game-winning two-run home run into the upper deck.

The one other person who deserves recognition for this game is Bill Fulton. Fulton pitched the eighth and ninth innings, did not allow a run, and recorded his first MLB win in his third career appearance.

It was also his last. He never pitched in the major leagues again.

Thanks to Jason Southard for tipping me off to this game.

Book excerpt: Mariano Rivera’s 42 postseason saves

An excerpt from The Yankees Index, published in 2016. You can buy the book here.

There is only one Babe Ruth, but in terms of domination of a position within a specific era, the closest thing to Babe Ruth is how Mariano Rivera dominated in postseason play.

During one of the most hitter-friendly periods in baseball history under the most pressure-packed of circumstances, Rivera thrived. He was 8-1 with an 0.70 postseason ERA, with 42 saves in 47 chances. The 42 saves is appropriate, as it matched the number on the back of his jersey.

Oh and though we’re focusing on October baseball, let’s not ignore the regular-season work. All that consists of is the most saves all-time (652) and the lowest ERA of any pitcher who worked at least 1,000 innings in the Live-Ball Era (since 1920).

“He is by far the greatest closer of all-time,” said ESPN baseball analyst and historian, Tim Kurkjian.

“As much of a guarantee as anyone who ever played the game,” said an admiring rival, former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling.

“The ultimate safety net,” said former teammate Mike Stanton.

The path to greatness was a combination of luck, talent and work, beginning with his growing up in Panama with thoughts of being a fisherman. In February, 1990 he signed with the Yankees and perhaps some were lucky enough to see the greatness before the greatness. That season, he pitched for the Yankees Gulf Coast League team in Tampa and allowed one earned run in 52 innings.

This was the pre-Rivera, Rivera. He didn’t have the cutter then. But in some ways, it was the same Mariano. Coaches worked with him to slow his delivery, such that it would take him 1.1 seconds to the plate.

Twenty one years later, I put a stopwatch on his delivery time for three pitches as he approached the all-time saves record. He clocked at 1.1 seconds.

By 1995, Rivera was in the majors and he had his share of ups and downs, primarily as a starting pitcher. But he did enough to earn Buck Showalter’s trust such that Showalter pitched him in two huge situations. Rivera pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings of relief In Game 2 of the ALDS against the Mariners, and got the win when Jim Leyritz hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 15th.

Then, Rivera emerged with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth inning of a tied Game 5 to blow Mike Blowers away on three straight pitches. The Yankees lost that game, but in that moment they discovered a future star who could stand up to the most stressful situations.

The next year, Rivera was the set-up man to John Wetteland in the greatest one-two reliever combination in Yankees history, if not baseball history. The Yankees got back to the postseason and won it all. Rivera pitched 122 innings in relief to a 1.92 ERA between the regular season and postseason.

That offseason, the Yankees did something they would never regret. They let Wetteland go as a free agent and made Rivera the closer.

“There were questions that spring as to whether he was going to be able to do it,” said his former teammate, Mike Stanton. “I think he answered them pretty well.”

Rivera did with the help of what he called a gift from God, a cut fastball that had a sharp late break against left-handed hitters, neutralizing any advantage they might have over him. It also turned out to work well as a pitch breaking away from right-handed hitters. He first noticed it during an innocent game of catch with Ramiro Mendoza. When he threw it in games, hitters could not make good contact against it.

“His cutter may go down as the greatest weapon in the history of the game,” said ESPN SportsCenter anchor Kevin Connors, who covered Rivera while working in New York.

The turning point in Rivera’s closing career was not a win, but a loss. Every closer has to deal with failure, knowing that you were the one who cost your team the game. In Rivera’s case, he had to live through that all winter after allowing the key hit in the 1997 ALDS- a game-tying home run to Sandy Alomar Jr. with the Yankees on the verge of clinching.

Again, the Yankees lost the series, but won for the long term.

“It didn’t bother him at all (for the next season),” said former teammate Jeff Nelson. “One of the best assets he has is a short memory.”

The legend of Rivera emerged in the next three seasons, as the Yankees became a baseball dynasty. Not only was he amazing in the regular season, he was dominant come October. In 41 1/3 postseason innings, he allowed three runs and 25 hits, with 30 strikeouts and four walks. That included a major-league record 33 1/3 inning scoreless streak. In 1999, he won World Series MVP honors in a sweep of the Braves.

The Yankees went 27-1 in the 28 games in which he pitched. He was on the mound for eight of the nine series-clinching outs, including the final out of all three World Series.

The Yankees inspired a city with their pursuit of a four-pear in the 2001 World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Pitching in the shadows of the September 11 tragedy, they came from behind on multiple occasions to get to Game 7.

Rivera had told his teammates before the game “Get me the ball and we will win” and it looked like he’d live up to that promise after blowing the Diamondbacks hitters away in the eighth inning.

But in the ninth inning, he and the Yankees were done in by a little wildness (he hit a batter for only the second time all season), an error (the second one of his career) and some bad luck (a broken-bat bloop over Derek Jeter’s head for the series-winning hit).

It was a crushing defeat, but Rivera was again undaunted. Two years later, he got the ball for a Game 7 and lived up to his promises. With the score tied in Game 7 of the ALCS against the Red Sox, Rivera pitched a scoreless ninth, 10th and 11th inning. And then he’d run and kiss the pitcher’s mound when Aaron Boone’s walk-off home run ended the series. Rivera was named series MVP.

“Those three innings- you’re not gonna get that with any other closer, “Nelson said. “He’s the only one (now) who can pitch three innings. He could have gone five.”

The Yankees transitioned into a different team over the next six years, one that blew a 3-0 ALCS lead to the Red Sox, than got knocked out in the ALDS in 2005, 2006 and 2007 before failing to make the playoffs in Joe Girardi’s first year, 2008.

The 2009 Yankees had a new home (the new Yankee Stadium) and several new faces (most notably CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira). But players like Rivera, Derek Jeter, and Jorge Posada remained constants.

That postseason featured Rivera at his very best. He allowed one run in 16 innings as the Yankees beat the Twins, Angels and Phillies for their 27th World Series title.

There was one more tough moment for Rivera to overcome. While shagging fly balls in Kansas City in May, 2012, Rivera tore his ACL, ending his season and potentially his career.

But Rivera would not let his career end that way. Instead, it ended the way it should.

Rivera had a 2.11 ERA and 44 saves at age 43 in 2013. Though he didn’t get another crack at October, he pitched like it was all season. He was dominant to the very end.

There was one last cool moment. In Rivera’s final game, Joe Girardi had Jeter and Andy Pettitte go to the mound to pull Rivera. “It’s time to go,” Jeter said, and the normally unflappable Rivera started to cry as he hugged his teammates.

And then he walked off the mound. The crowd cheered. Just as if it was October.

Most Career Postseason Saves
Mariano Rivera 42
Brad Lidge 18
Dennis Eckersley 15

Book Excerpt: Mike Mussina pitches 8 2/3 perfect innings

Excerpt from The Yankees Index, published by Triumph Books in 2016. Purchase the book here

Mike Stanton was fascinated with teammate Mike Mussina’s control in bullpen sessions in-between starts.

“You could watch him throw and you’d be amazed at his command,” Stanton said. “And at the end of it, he’s ticked off because he missed his spot on two of his pitches. He had that good a stuff and that good a control. He was highly, highly intelligent and the epitome of a perfectionist.”

It is a moment of imperfection for which Mussina is probably best remembered as a Yankee.

That refers to September 2, 2001, in which Mussina and former Yankee turned Red Sox pitcher David Cone locked into one of the greatest pitcher’s duels in Yankees history (or at least Yankees-Red Sox history).

The teams entered the game at Fenway Park in vastly different states. The Yankees were in first place and at the beginning of a stretch in which they won 11 of 12 games. The Red Sox were stumbling, having lost six in a row and held to exactly one run in each of their last four games (including 3-1 and 2-1 losses to the Yankees).

The nationally-televised Sunday Night Baseball game was the perfect stage for the 32-year-old Mussina, who was in the first year of a six-year contract with the Yankees after an illustrious nine seasons with the Baltimore Orioles and a highly successful college career at Stanford.

“Mussina is arguably the greatest free-agent signing the Yankees have ever had,” said YES Network head researcher, Jeff Quagliata, which would mean it ranked ahead of Reggie Jackson and CC Sabathia in terms of overall value..

Mussina entered the day in a groove, with a 1.55 ERA in his previous four starts.

Mussina’s strength was that he got a lot of strikeouts and rarely walked anyone. He currently has the second-best strikeout-to-walk rate in Yankees history, just behind Mariano Rivera.

“Facing Mike Mussina was like battling seasickness,” said former major-leaguer Doug Glanville, who went 4-for-15 against him. “He would go up in the zone then down in the zone and repeat. High fastball, nasty curve, time warp change-up. It was a battle in four dimensions. Up-Down. In-Out. Fast-Slow. Nausea-Headache. The best strategy was Alka-Seltzer.”

Most K per BB – Yankees History
Mariano Rivera 4.1
Mike Mussina 4.02
David Wells 4.01

Added Yankees coach Willie Randolph in Mussina’s Yankeeography “He was everything a pitcher should be.”

Cone, formerly a Yankees star, was a formidable opponent, albeit one whose best days were behind him. He knew the hitters in the Yankees lineup well, having played with them from 1995 to 2000. Cone also had thrown a perfect game for the Yankees two years earlier.

Mussina was throwing hard, often hitting 95 MPH with his fastball, and with a great changeup and nasty knuckle-curve which dropped dirt-bound to elude hitters’ bats. After Cone pitched a scoreless first inning, stranding Derek Jeter on second base, Mussina got the Red Sox on a pair of strikeouts and a lineout to short.

Thus began a pattern that lasted through eight innings. Cone allowed a baserunner in seven of them, but none crossed the plate.

Mussina allowed nothing. No runs, no hits and no errors.

In the top of the ninth inning, the Yankees broke through, thanks to an error by Red Sox second baseman Lou Merloni and Enrique Wilson’s subsequent RBI double. The Yankees went to the bottom of the ninth up 1-0 and with Mussina on the verge of what Yankees play-by-play announcer John Sterling had previously called “baseball immortality.”

The first two hitters in the home ninth went down, albeit with a little stress. Troy O’Leary grounded to first, where Yankees reserve Clay Bellinger preserved the bid with a diving stop. Merloni then struck out.

Then Red Sox manager Joe Kerrigan did something odd. He sent up Carl Everett to pinch-hit for his catcher, Joe Oliver.

Everett was picked 10 spots ahead of Mussina, by the Yankees in the 1990 MLB Amateur Draft. He’d shown great hitting prowess in 1999, when he hit .325 with the Astros and 2000, when he hit .300 with 34 home runs in his first year in Boston.

But in 2001, he was not the same Everett. In 20 games prior to this pinch-hitting appearance, he was hitting .187. Not only that, he was 1-for-9 with seven strikeouts in his career against Mussina (all of which occurred that season).

It looked like Mussina was going to get Everett again. He went ahead 1-2, than made a decision that likely haunts him to this day. He went with a high fastball and Everett got his quick bat around on it and lined a single to left center field.

“I’m going to think about that pitch until I retire,” Mussina said. “It’s probably just not meant to be.”

Mussina said that for good reason. Close but not quite was an important part of who he was as a pitcher.

“That game sums up his career and his Hall of Fame candidacy,” said Patrick Bohn, a Yankees fan from Ithaca New York, who along with his friend Ryan Vooris, has started a website promoting Mussina’s greatness. “It was so close to being there … and then it wasn’t.”

Mussina is one of many great pitchers who never threw a no-hitter or perfect game. He came close … many times. He took a perfect game into the ninth inning against the Indians in 1997, a no-hitter into the eighth inning that same season, and a perfect game into the eighth inning against the Orioles in 1998.

He couldn’t quite close them out. Mussina threw 10 regular-season complete games in which he allowed two hits or fewer , the second-most of anyone since the start of the 1990 season.

Mussina was also an integral part of two of the Yankees best wins of the 21st century. He threw seven scoreless innings in Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS against the Athletics, a 1-0 win best remembered for “The Flip” by Derek Jeter that saved the tying run from scoring.

Mussina also pitched three scoreless innings and escaped a first-and-third no-out jam he inherited from Roger Clemens in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS against the Red Sox in the first relief appearance of his career. The Yankees overcame a four-run deficit to win that game on Aaron Boone’s walk-off home run. They lost the World Series in six games to the Marlins, though Mussina won his only start in that Fall Classic

Mussina never achieved the perfection he was seeking, but he had about as perfect an ending to a career that a pitcher could have, short of winning the World Series.

On the final day of the 2008 season, he pitched six scoreless innings against the Red Sox in Fenway Park to earn his 20th victory. He became the oldest pitcher to reach 20 wins for the first time (age 39).

There was a near-miss aspect to this as well, as the Yankees won the World Series the year after Mussina retired.

He finished his career with a 270-153 record, with 123 of those wins coming for the Yankees. He also won the seventh Gold Glove Award of his career, his third with the Yankees. He was able to retire that offseason with the satisfaction of knowing he’d achieved just about everything he could.

“His career has been overlooked and underappreciated,” Bohn said. “I hope he gets into the Hall of Fame. And I hope that people realize how great he was.”

The Yankees really lost, but walked off winners

A couple of people have contested my proclamation that the walk-off home run by weak-hitting pitcher Bob Grim produced the strangest walk-off win in the history of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.

One game they cite is a favorite of Don Mattingly’s and for good reason, I suppose. It took place on September 18, 1993. The Yankees were in second place, chasing the first-place Blue Jays, three games back with 13 to play. The Red Sox were slightly above .500, but basically out of the race.

Boston played spoiler early. Mo Vsughn’s two-run home run against Jimmy Key in the first inning gave the Red Sox a 2-0 lead. A third-inning bases-loaded walk by Carlos Quintana made it 3-0. Paul O’Neill’s seventh-inning home run against Nate Minchey cut the lead to 3-1, but that’s where the game stayed until there were two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning.

The rally began with the Yankees win probability at two percent when Mike Gallego got hit by a pitch. Than things got goofy. Mike Stanley hit what appeared to be a game-ending popout to left field, except that prior to the pitch, umpire Tim Welke called time because a teenage fan had sprinted onto the field.

The fan did not interfere with the play in any way (Filip Bondy of the Daily News talked to police officers who said the kid was crying, regretted what he did, and was let go). Had play continued, the catch would have counted and the game would have been over. No dice.

Stanley promptly singled to put the tying runs on base. Next came Wade Boggs, whose ground ball in the first base-second base hole was fielded on a dive by Scott Fletcher. Boggs was safe at first and Gallego scored to make it 3-2. Dion James then drew an eight-pitch walk from Greg Harris to load the bases for Mattingly.

On a 1-1 pitch, Mattingly hit a ground-ball single in the hole scoring both pinch-runners Gerald Williams and Andy Stankiewicz to win the game. As Jim Kaat said on the CBS broadcast, never before had a team celebrated so much for a game that it had really lost.

“We were all trying to get the fan in here,” Stanley told reporters afterwards. “He’s probably the MVP of the game.”

This game is well remembered by the diehardest Yankees fans (and Mattingly), but it’s not in my pantheon of all-time Yankees wins. Perhaps that’s because of what happened next.

It might have been baseball karma that bit this team, because the Yankees lost their next five games to fall out of the division race.

This might be the Yankees weirdest win vs the Red Sox

There have been some amazing Yankees-Red Sox games in the last couple of decades. But I’ve got one with which you’re probably not familiar that may be the weirdest of them all.

It comes from September 5, 1957. The Yankees were trying to hold off the White Sox for the American League lead (they would) but had hit a little funk. They were without Mickey Mantle and trailing the Red Sox 2-0 entering the bottom of the eighth.

Mantle would make an appearance as a pinch-hitter with one on and two out in the eighth inning, drawing a controversial walk (the Red Sox thought they had strike three). The inning extended and the Yankees would eventually tie the game on Gil McDougald’s two-run single.

Closer Bob Grim replaced Bob Turley for the ninth inning and got into immediate trouble, allowing a leadoff double to Jackie Jensen, who advanced to third on a ground out. But Grim escaped, getting a comebacker and then a fly to right from opposing pitcher Willard Nixon. Yes, the pitcher batted in a key spot in the ninth inning. In fairness, Nixon was a good hitter. He batted .293 in 75 at-bats that season.

Perhaps Casey Stengel was inspired in seeing this. Or perhaps the Yankees were short bodies, having already used three pinch-hitters and a pinch-runner. In the bottom of the 10th, after Jerry Lumpe singled and Enos Slaughter walked with two outs, Grim was left in to bat for himself.

Grim was not Nixon. The Yankees pitcher was 4-for-his-last-61 at the plate, including 0-for-7 this season after going 1-for-16 in 1956. Stengel would later note that if he pinch-hit with Andy Carey, he’d have been forced to use a pitcher in the outfield because of the defensive changes. So Grim was left to bat with the game on the line.

But this is baseball, a sport in which the impossible and unbelievable happens with a greater frequency than is meant to be. Sure enough, Grim homered, an opposite-field shot into the first row in right field, giving the Yankees a walk-off win. “I was dumbfounded” he told reporters after the game, unable to identify the type of pitch he hit.

The Boston Globe shared a funny quote from Stengel afterwards.

“When he got to second base, he didn’t know what to do. He slowed down and looked over to the bench to see if he should keep on running for our first feller had already crossed home plate.”

It should be noted that Grim had three extra-base hits in his nine-year career. All of them were home runs.