Atlanta Braves Franchise History: 1957 World Series

Oct 21, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; A fan holds up his baseball game tickets before game one of the 2014 World Series between the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 21, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; A fan holds up his baseball game tickets before game one of the 2014 World Series between the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Before they were the Atlanta Braves they were the Boston Beaneaters, Boston Braves and the Milwaukee Braves. While there’ve been a number of outstanding Braves pitching performances the best in Franchise History  came in the 1957 World Series.

Most fans today remember the Atlanta Braves as the team the had 15 consecutive post season streak appearances. Prior to that run post season games were few and far between.

Franchise Post Seasons Before Atlanta

The Beaneaters (102-48) won a post season series against the Cleveland Spiders (93-56) in 1892 5-0-1. It wasn’t World Series because post season games were considered exhibition games until 1903.

By 1914 the Beaneaters had become the Boston Braves and beat the Philadelphia Athletics in four straight games the franchise’s first World Series.

Most of you have now heard about the 1948 World Series ad nauseam by now, the Indians winning over Boston taking four games to two.

In 1947 the Yankees signed a skinny right-handed pitcher named Selva Lewis “Lew” Burdette out of the University of Richmond.  Burdette made his i Major League debut with the Yankees in 1950 throwing 1 1/3 innings of relief.

In 1951 the Braves traded Johnny Sain to the Yankees for Burdette and $50000 in cash. Injury meant that Sain pitched just four and a half years for the Yankees and won just 33 games.  Burdette appeared in only three major league games that year and spent most of the 1952 season as a reliever though he di d make nine starts in his 45 appearances.

In 1953 the Braves moved to Milwaukee with Lew Burdette as their closer. At that time a closer wasn’t the same as it is today, Burdette got nine saves that year by today’s standards but the team had only 16 so he did pretty good. He also made 13 starts going 7-5 with a 3.15 ERA, 1.278 WHIP striking out 32 but walking 23.

The Braves won 92 games but finished 13 games behind the National League’s powerhouse team at the time, the Brooklyn Dodgers.

In 1954 Burdette became a full-time starter and won 15 games posting a 2.76 ERA in 238 IP.  His partnership with Warren Spahn who won 21 games with a 3.14 ERA that season gave the Braves a formidable one-two punch. The Braves won 89 games but finished eight back of the 97 win Giants and three in back of the 92 win Dodgers.

The 1955 season saw another second place finish for the Braves who had 85 -13 games behind Brooklyn – but 1956 saw them win 92 and finish standing on the Dodgers heels one game back.

1957

The 57 season saw a changing of the guard. The Dodgers had three young pitchers – Don Drysdale (20), Johnny Podres (24) and Danny McDevitt (24) – and Jackie Robinson had retired.  The Braves featured Spahn, Burdette and Bob Buhl who won 56 games out of there 99 starts.

Spahn was the no doubt ace. He pitched to a 2.69 ERA (130 ERA+) and 1.177 WHIP in 271 innings, threw 18 complete games and won 21 times.  Buhl had the second best ERA (2.74) but his WHIP was 1.440 and today we know his FIP was 3.95. Burdette slotted in with a 3.72 ERA (3.83 FIP) and 1.243 WHIP. Most thought Burdette threw a spitter but no one ever caught him doctoring the in any way.

Most of you won’t have heard of the Braves manager Fred Haney but lineup featured some names you will know. They finished the season scoring 772 runs and allowed 613 with the NL championship hit coming off the bat of Hank Aaron.

Pos Name H HR RBI SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
C Del Crandall 97 15 46 38 .253 .308 .410 .718 97
1B Frank Torre* 99 5 40 19 .272 .339 .393 .732 103
2B Red Schoendienst# 122 6 32 7 .310 .348 .434 .782 116
SS Johnny Logan 135 10 49 49 .273 .319 .401 .720 98
3B Eddie Mathews* 167 32 94 79 .292 .387 .540 .927 154
LF Wes Covington* 93 21 65 44 .284 .339 .537 .875 138
CF Bill Bruton* 85 5 30 35 .278 .317 .438 .755 107
RF Hank Aaron 198 44 132 58 .322 .378 .600 .978 166
OF Andy Pafko 61 8 27 22 .277 .308 .423 .730 100
1B Joe Adcock 60 12 38 51 .287 .351 .541 .891 143
2B Danny O’Connell 43 1 8 20 .235 .312 .311 .624 74
SS Felix Mantilla 43 4 21 34 .236 .296 .363 .659 82
C Del Rice 33 9 20 37 .229 .309 .438 .746 104
LF Bobby Thomson 35 4 23 27 .236 .285 .392 .677 86
RF Bob Hazle* 54 7 27 15 .403 .477 .649 1.126 209
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/1/2016.

The World Series

The Braves opponents in the World Series were the 98 Win Yankees led by future Hall of Fame Manager Casey Stengel.  The Yankees pitching staff was thought to be one of the best around. Bobby Shantz had the league’s best ERA and Casey had the advantage of having a fist full of starters. Only two starters had ERAs over three and the team allowed only 534 runs that season.

Name Age W L ERA GS CG SHO IP BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP
Tom Sturdivant 27 16 6 2.54 28 7 2 201.2 80 118 142 3.44 1.240
Johnny Kucks 24 8 10 3.56 23 4 1 179.1 59 78 101 3.65 1.271
Bob Turley 26 13 6 2.71 23 9 4 176.1 85 152 133 3.59 1.163
Bobby Shantz* 31 11 5 2.45 21 9 1 173.0 40 72 148 3.55 1.139
Don Larsen 27 10 4 3.74 20 4 1 139.2 87 81 97 4.28 1.432
Whitey Ford* 28 11 5 2.57 17 5 0 129.1 53 84 140 3.42 1.291
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/1/2016.

The lineup had a couple of hall of famers and plenty of extra base thunder.

Pos Name G 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
C Yogi Berra* 134 14 2 24 82 57 24 .251 .329 .438 .767 109
1B Bill Skowron 122 15 5 17 88 31 60 .304 .347 .470 .818 123
2B Bobby Richardson 97 11 1 0 19 9 26 .256 .274 .298 .573 58
SS Gil McDougald 141 25 9 13 62 59 71 .289 .362 .442 .804 120
3B Andy Carey 85 6 5 6 33 15 42 .255 .309 .393 .701 92
LF Elston Howard 110 13 4 8 44 16 43 .253 .283 .379 .663 81
CF Mickey Mantle# 144 28 6 34 94 146 75 .365 .512 .665 1.177 221
RF Hank Bauer 137 22 9 18 65 42 64 .259 .321 .455 .776 111
UT Tony Kubek* 127 21 3 3 39 24 48 .297 .335 .381 .716 97
LF Enos Slaughter* 96 7 1 5 34 40 19 .254 .369 .368 .737 104
UT Harry Simpson* 75 7 3 7 39 19 36 .250 .307 .402 .709 94
2B Jerry Coleman 72 7 2 2 12 20 21 .268 .354 .376 .730 101
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/1/2016.

In those days home field alternated between the leagues and in 1957 the AL had home field advantage. Game one saw a matchup of two future hall of fame lefties, Spahn and Whitey Ford.

The Yankees lost their big first baseman Bill Skowron in the third inning with back spasms and catcher/outfielder/first baseman Elston Howard took over.  Through five innings the Braves left four men on base without scoring. The Yankees scored in the fifth and after they scored on off of Spahn in the sixth Haney brought in Ernie Johnson.

Johnson allowed one inherited runner to score on a squeeze play and the Yankees went on to win 3-1.

Game Two

Burdette squared off against Shantz in game two and the Braves took the lead in top of the second when Joe Adcock singled to left driving in Aaron. The Yankees  equalized in the bottom half when Jerry Coleman drove in Enos (Country) Slaughter.

Lew Burdette pitched three complete game shut outs for the Milwaukee Braves to defeat the New York Yankees in 1957

Lew Burdette pitched three complete game shut outs for the Milwaukee Braves to defeat the New York Yankees in 1957

Johnny Logan led off the Braves third with a homer but in home half Hank Bauer did the same for the Yankees and the game was tied again. In the fourth the Braves scored twice when Covington singled to left driving in Adcock and Pafko. That forced Shantz from the game in favor of Art Ditmar who put out the fire

Burdette shut the Yankees down from that point forward. Two Yankees made it into scoring position in the bottom of the sixth on a fielders choice and a double but coaxed tow infield grounders. A single in the bottom of the seventh came to nothings and Burdette force Mantle to foul out to Eddie Mathews, Berra to ground out and struck out Slaughter to end the inning.

In the ninth Burdette retired Simpson on a ground but Kubek singled.  After pinch hitter Joe Collins popped out to Logan Elston Howard singled moving Kubek to second but Burdette coaxed Bauer into an easy infield grounder tot end the game.

On the day Burdette faced 37 batters allowing two runs on seven hits, striking out five and walking three.

The Yankees hammered Bob Buhl in Game three winning 12 – 3. Warren Spahn righted the ship in game throwing a 10 inning complete game the Braves won when a Johnny Logan double drove in Felix Mantilla in the bottom of the tenth.

Game Five

Game five saw Burdette back on the mound to face Whitey Ford. Ford would go on to the Hall of Fame but on this day Burdette was the best man.

After a leadoff single in the first Casey Stengel decided to play for the early run, bunting the runner to second but Burdette retired the next two hitters t end the threat.  A single in the second was erased by a double play and a single in the third saw the runner still at first when the inning ended.

Ford and Burdette threw up zeros for five and a half innings before the Braves pushed a run across on back to back to back two out singles in the home half of the sixth.

The stalemate returned in the seventh. In the top of the eighth Coleman singled with one out and Stengel pulled Ford for pinch hitter Elston Howard.  Burdette struck out Howard and Del Crandell threw out pinch runner Mickey Mantle to end the inning.

Bob Turley shut the Braves out in the home eighth and Burdette took the mound in the ninth with a one run lead against the top of the Yankee order. He promptly struck out Bauer and Kubek and after a McDougal single jammed Yogi who popped up Mathews to end the game.

Burdette faced just 31 batters in his nine innings allowing seven hits and striking out five without a walk.

Back to the Bronx

This was the first year that there was an off day between games two and three and again between game five and six. The off day after game five probably saved the series for the Braves.

In Game six Buhl was on the bump again for the Braves but last just 2 2/3 innings before Ernie Johnson stepped in the shut the Yankees down throwing 4 1/3 innings and allowing a run. Don McMahon (Braves closer at the time) pitched the eighth. The Yankees scored only three runs but Bob Turley went nine innings for the Yanks allowing only two.

The stage was set for Spahn to pitch the seventh and deciding game just the way Haney wanted it but Spahn came down with the flu and was unable to pitch. That left Haney with a choice of going to one of the starters who hadn’t pitched at all in the series or Burdette. On two days rest Burdette ask for the ball and got it.

No Repeat for Larsen

Don Larsen was on the mound for New York. He lasted 2 1/3 innings then gave up a pair of runs in the third and went for a shower in favor of Shantz. Shantz allowed another of Shantz’ runners to score along with one of his own. The Brave were up 4-0 and though they added one in the eighth, four was more than enough for Burdette.

Two men reached (double and intentional walk) in the first but the Yankees didn’t convert. Burdette retired the next eleven batters before Coleman singled in the fifth.

Two Yankees reached on a single and a two out single and error in the sixth but Burdette closed the door.

The Kubek singled to lead off the seventh but was standing at second when the inning ended.

Burdette retired Bauer, Slaughter and Mantle in order as the Yankees went quietly in the eighth.

In the ninth McDougal singled with one out and after Kubek lifted a fly ball to center for the second out Coleman and Tommy Byrne singled to load the bases for Moose Skowron.

Skowron was a mountain of a man for the time and a hard man to retire witnessed by his .304/.347/.470/.818 line. Hsi 88 RBI were second only to Mantle’s 94. It was a classic match up that Burdette won when Moose grounded out to Mathews.

On the day Burdette faced 36 batters and gave up seven hits, striking out three and walking one intentionally. His total World Series line is pretty amazing.

Playoff Series Stats
Name G GS ERA W L CG IP H R BB SO WHIP
Lew Burdette 3 3 0.67 3 0 3 27.0 21 2 4 13 0.926
Totals 16 7 3.48 4 3 4 62.0 57 25 22 34 1.274
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/2/2016.

He was obviously named series MVP

The video is 30 minutes long and created originally to be shown in theaters. If you have time its’ fun to watch.

That’s A Wrap

When you hear people talk about great Braves pitching duos of the time they fall back on Spahn and Johnny Sain. Together they won 197 games for Boston from 1946 through the first half of 1951.

Spahn and Burdette were the Braves one-two punch from the second half of 1951 through the first half of 1963. During that time Spahn won 252 games and lost 154 while Burdette won 179 games and lost 120. Together that’s 431 wins back when winning a game meant something.

Burdette was durable and dependable; from 1953 through 1960 he never made less than 32 starts. In 1959 he made 39 starts throwing 289 innings with 20 complete games including four shutouts.

In his 13 seasons in Milwaukee he appeared in 468 games starting 338 times, faced 10931 batters in 2638 innings striking out 923 while walking 557 and posting a 3.53 ERA (3.70 FIP) and 1.234 WHIP.

On the mound Burdette was in perpetual motion – my dad called him fidgety Phil – tugging at his sleeve, his cap twitching and fidgeting with the ball. Always in Spahn’s shadow and without the kind of press and media coverage that we have today, his work was often overlooked by fans outside of Milwaukee.  But in 1957 the Yankees found out that – like trading him for Sain in 1951 – was a mistake.

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