1951 October

1st  In the NL’s first best-of-three play-off since 1946, Ralph Branca of the Dodgers loses to Jim Hearn and the Giants 3–1. Branca serves up HRs to Bobby Thomson and Monte Irvin. It is the first game ever to be broadcast live coast-to-coast. With both the Dodgers and Giants tied 96–58 at the end of regulation, Brooklyn wins the coin toss and elects to play the first game of the playoffs at home. The next 2 games will be played at the Polo Grounds.

2nd  The Dodgers bounce back as rookie Clem Labine evens the playoff with a 10–0 win, besting the Giants’ Sheldon Jones. Home runs are smashed by Jackie Robinson, Gil Hodges, Andy Pafko, and Rube Walker. Willie Mays grounds into 3 DP.

3rd  The Giants’ Bobby Thomson hits the most famous home run in history, off Ralph Branca. His “shot heard round the world” with 2 runners on and trailing 4–2 in the bottom of the 9th defeats Brooklyn 5–4 and sends the jubilant Giants into the WS. For Branca, it is his 6th loss of the season against the Giants, who have now hit 11 HRs off him this year. Whitey Lockman sets up Thomson’s blast by hitting a double off Newcombe with Al Dark on 3B and Don Mueller on 1B. Mueller breaks his ankle sliding into 3B and is carried off the field.

4th  In the opening game of the WS, Monte Irvin steals home in the first inning and collects 4 hits. The Giants defeat Allie Reynolds and the Yankees 5–1 with Dave Koslo going all the way at Yankee Stadium. With the injured Mueller missing the WS, Bobby Thomson switches the 3B and the Giants field the first black outfield of Thompson, Irvin and Mays.

5th  The Yanks and Eddie Lopat even up the WS by winning 3–1 over Larry Jansen. Lopat scatters 5 hits, three by Monte Irvin. Irvin has now hit safely 7 straight times in two games. Mickey Mantle is injured in the 5th inning when he steps on an exposed water sprinkler while chasing a Willie Mays fly ball. Mantle is taken off the field on a stretcher and the injury to his knee will plague him throughout his career. He will undergo the first of 6 knee operations.

In a fine pickup, the Reds send OF Bobby Usher and C Johnny Pramesa to the Cubs for OF Bob Borkowski and C Smoky Burgess.

  1. Iijima of the Daiei Stars (later the Lotte Orions) gets 11 RBI in a single game for a Japanese record. The U.S. ML record is 12, set by Jim Bottomley of St. Louis in 1924; Iijima ties Tony Lazzeri of the NY Yankees who knocked in 11 in 1936.

6th  Back at the Polo Grounds, the Giants win 6–2, as Whitey Lockman homers with 2 on in the 5th. The Giants score 5 in the inning after Eddie Stanky kicks the ball out of Phil Rizzuto’s glove on a tag play at 2B.

8th  The Yankees even up the WS with a 6–2 win, with Allie Reynolds going the distance. Hitless in 11 at bats, DiMaggio collects a homer and single.

The two major leagues rescind the rule controlling radio and television broadcasts into minor league territories. Television has badly damaged the gate in minor league cities; the PCL was down 18 percent in 1952.

9th  Gil McDougald becomes the first rookie to hit a grand slam in the WS, as the Yankees win in a romp, 13–1. Ed Lopat wins his 2nd game.

In New York, Browns owner Bill Veeck, Jr. hires Rogers Hornsby to a three-year contract to manage the Browns. The Rajah, who last managed in the majors in 1937 as skipper of the Browns, was fired by Bill Veeck, Sr. in 1932 when Hornsby managed the Cubs. Hornsby chooses the Browns offer over a similar one by the Cardinals, who just let Marty Marion go as manager.

10th  Hank Bauer’s bases-loaded triple propels the Yankees to a 4–3 win and their 3rd straight championship. Just before the game, Leo Durocher turns over a letter he received to Ford Frick that offers the Giants manager a $15,000 bribe “if the Giants manage to lose the next 3 games.”

15th  Minor league executive Leslie O’Connor testifies before the Celler committee that ML control over the farm system is harmful to players and the minor leagues. He adds that the majors-minors council plans a pact to speed a West Coast bid for higher status.

16th  In a letter written to ML officials, the St. Louis Browns P Ned Garver offers a pay plan that would ameliorate the ill effects of the reserve system he supports. He would have the salaries of players on consistent tail-enders be determined by a rating system by the owners. If the club does not match the “average” salary, then that player should be traded to some other club that can afford his services. Garver adds that he “doesn’t care where I play, as long as I get a ‘fair’ salary.”

17th  The Yomiuri Giants win the Japan Series over the Nankai Hawks. Incredibly, they will win the pennant 19 times in the next 23 years, including 9 in succession (1965-73).

20th  Joe DiMaggio accompanies Lefty O’Doul’s all-stars on a tour of Japan. They will win 13 of the 15 games.

23rd  Branch Rickey contends that the farm system saved baseball during the Depression. He asks Congress for legislation that will protect it from monopoly suits.

The AP picks Giant manager Leo Durocher as Manager of the Year.

24th  UPI names Casey Stengel as Manager of the Year.

Larry MacPhail calls for 4 new major leagues, including a Pacific Coast League.