ALLIE REYNOLDS’ MASTERFUL 1952 SEASON
Allie Reynolds was one of the Yankees’ more unsung heroes, taking a backseat in recognition during his career to guys named DiMaggio, Berra, Ford, and Mantle. Reynolds was a right handed pitcher who served as one of the aces on the staff and one of the best pitchers in the league. Alas, a significant case can be made that not only was the big right-hander a crucial part of the 1940s-50s Yankee dynasty, but that he was one of the great Yankee pitchers of all time.
After being acquired from Cleveland in a trade for future Hall of Famer Joe Gordon after the 1946 season, he was a significant contributor to six Yankee World Championship teams. He won 131 games over his eight season with the club with a 3.30 ERA while being selected to five All-Star games. When the games got more important, Reynolds got better. His record was 7-2, 2.79 ERA and two saves in World Series play. He is also is one of a handful of pitchers who have thrown two no-hitters in a season, hurling two masterpieces during the 1951 season.
Allie Reynolds was a superb performer not only as a starting pitcher, but in a relief role as well. He had a 2.92 ERA in his Yankee career coming out of the bullpen with 40 saves (credited retroactively). Manager Casey Stengel heaped praise on his pitcher in 1951, saying “That big guy comes close to being the most valuable pitcher in the league right now” and was quite appreciative of his pitcher’s competitiveness, noting “He doesn’t run to the bullpen for the weak ones. But when it’s the Red Sox, Indians, Tigers, or White Sox, even when he started the day before you look beside you and the guy ain’t there anymore. He’s in the bullpen.”
Reynolds’ greatest season was in 1952, going 20-8 while leading the league in ERA (2.06), ERA+ (161) and strikeouts (160). He finished second in the league in MVP voting, only behind Philadelphia’s Bobby Shantz. He seamlessly moved between starting and relieving during the season, saving six games. True to Casey’s word, all of his saves were against the teams the Yankees were fighting in the standings, Cleveland and Chicago.
He saved his best for the month of September – 4-0, 1.11 ERA, completing all four of his starts and saving two games. The Yankees held off hard charging Cleveland, edging the Indians by two games for the AL Pennant. Reynolds then was 2-1, 1.77 in the World Series against Brooklyn, saving Game Six and coming out of the bullpen again in Game Seven to earn the win.
After the season he was selected to a spot on The Sporting News All-Star team, one of three pitchers along with Shantz and 28-game winner Robin Roberts of the Phillies.
In 1989 the Yankees erected a plaque in Reynolds’ honor in Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park.