Looking Back at a Yankees Game – July 21, 1950
A few days ago, a friend told me that she had something special to give me… something very special that she had found among her parents’ belongings as she was cleaning out their old home. It turns out that she discovered two old programs from games long ago played at Yankee Stadium.
When she gave these to me, I couldn’t believe my eyes. These were both in remarkable condition, almost like brand new. I was (and am) extremely touched that my friend wished for me to have these.
Of course, I couldn’t help but open them and start to read through the many pages within to take a step back in time to revisit those Yankees teams of long ago. I was then extra-thrilled to see that the person who had gone to this game, my friend’s father, had actually kept score. He also wrote the date of the game (July 21, 1950) at the top of the scoring page.
Knowing the date of this game made the scorecard even more special. That game was played on my own father’s twelfth birthday (and I learned that he was also at that game. He and his brother, my Uncle David, celebrated their birthday (they are twins) attending their first ever baseball night game at this very same game) along with my Grandmother and Grandfather.
I looked forward to one day soon using Baseball-Reference and Retrosheet to learn more about that game and to play it out myself by reading the on-line descriptions and comparing it to the score keeping in the program from long, long ago. I also thought it would be great fun to share the game with all of you.
…and here it is!
JULY 21, 1950 DETROIT TIGERS at NEW YORK YANKEES
The starting pitchers for this game were Ted Gray for Detroit and Vic Raschi for the Yankees.
I didn’t know much about Ted Gray, so (of course), I had to do some research on him. Gray pitched in the Major Leagues in 1946 and then from 1948 to 1955. He spent most of his career with the Tigers but also pitched for the Cleveland Indians, New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, and Chicago White Sox. I have to be honest, I never knew he was a Yankee so I had to give that fact special attention.
In 1955, after being released by the Indians, Gray was signed by the Yankees. He pitched one game for the Yankees, on July 10, in the second game of a double header against the Senators in Washington, D.C. Gray was the starting pitcher that day, pitching three innings and allowing only one run. He struck out one batter. That batter was Ted Abernathy, the pitcher for the Senators that day.
Vic Raschi, the Springfield Rifle, was a long-time Yankees pitcher and one of the aces of the great Yankees teams of those day (along with Allie Reynolds and Eddie Lopat). Raschi was a Yankee from 1946 to 1953. I think people today forget, or don’t realize, how great of a pitcher Raschi was. Between the years 1948 and 1952, Raschi appeared in four All-Star games and received MVP votes in each of those five seasons. In his eight seasons in pinstripes, Raschi won 120 games while losing only 50 for a winning percentage of .706.
It seems, looking back at that game, that Raschi didn’t bring his best stuff to this outing against the Tigers – the team that was actually in first place in the American league as play began. Yes, you read that correctly, the Tigers, at 55-30, were actually atop the division. The Yankees (54-32) were a game and a half behind the Tigers as play commenced on that day.
Some notable Tigers in the lineup that day were future Hall-of-Famer George Kell (3b), along with former Yankees Jerry Priddy (2b) and Aaron Robinson (C).
In the top of the first, around an error by Yankees’ second baseman Jerry Coleman, Raschi struck out the side retiring three Tigers by strikeouts.
The Yankees lineup that day featured many well-known and beloved players including future Hall-of-Famers Phil Rizzuto (ss), Johnny MIze (1b), Joe DiMaggio (cf), and Yogi Berra (c).
The Yankees wasted no time scoring in this game. Gene Woodling led off with a walk. He was immediately bunted to second by the #2 hitter, Rizzuto. Hank Bauer then singled home Woodling. Johnny Mize singled Bauer to third and Joe DiMaggio drove him home with a single of his own to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead.
Raschi then sailed through the second allowing only a single to the Tigers’ center fielder Johnny Groth.
Around singles by Jerry Coleman and Phil Rizzuto (with the help of an error, a fielder’s choice, and a sacrifice fly by Bauer) the Yankees scored two more runs in their half of the second inning. It was shaping up as a rout. After two innings, the Yankees led 4-0.
Raschi faced only three batters in the third (strikeout, walk, double play).
In the bottom of the third, the Yankees batters knocked Ted Gray out of the game. Highlights of that frame included a Joe DiMaggio double, a Bobby Brown single and stolen base, and a two-run single to make the score 6-0. The guy who drove in those two runs? That was the starting pitcher, Vic Raschi. Jerry Coleman had later walked that inning and scored on a Phil Rizzuto sacrifice fly.
After three innings, the Yankees led 7-0.
The fourth innings for both clubs were less then eventful. The Tigers did manage to get two batters on, but they didn’t score. The Yankees, themselves, had a few batters reach (Mize and DiMaggio both singled to start the frame, but they weren’t able to score. Bobby Brown, who reached on a fielder’s choice was thrown out trying to steal second base to end the frame).
The Tigers finally roared in their half of the fifth inning. Vic Raschi would not survive the frame.
With one out, Marlin Stuart, the new Tigers’ pitcher, walked. Johnny Lipon and Jerry Priddy then singled to score a run. Those singles were followed by a two-run double by George Kell.
Instantly, the Tigers cut the lead down to 7-3. After a fly out and a walk, Johnny Groth singled home George Kell to make it 7-4. That single knocked Vic Raschi from the game. The Yankees brought in Tom Ferrick to replace him. Ferrick retired former Yankee Aaron Robinson to end the frame.
It was now 7-4. The Tigers were making a game of it after all!
But it didn’t last long.
The Yankees’ fifth inning was just as eventful.
Tom Ferrick walked with one out. Gene Woodling then did the same. Following a Rizzuto flyout, Hank Bauer drove in the Yankees’ eighth run. That hit ended Marlin Stuart’s day. In came Paul Calvert from the Tigers’ bullpen.
Johnny MIze, the first batter Calvert faced, hit a home run, a three-run shot, to give the Yankees an 11-4 lead.
With the help of a double play, Tom Ferrick retired the Tigers in order in the sixth inning and then retired all three Tigers in the seventh inning.
But, this day was too good for Johnny Mize to let it stop there. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Mize came up with two outs and one runner on (Phil Rizzuto, who had singled). Still facing Paul Calvert, Johnny Mize hit his second homer of the game. (On the day, Johnny Mize went 4 for 5, with five runs batted in.)
Joe DiMaggio followed Mize’s last with a single. DiMaggio then scored on a Yogi Berra triple.
After seven innings, the Yankees led 14-4.
Joe Page, the Yankees’ ace “fireman” pitched the eighth and ninth innings allowing just one run to close out the contest. He allowed a lone run in the ninth inning, but it wasn’t a contest at that point.
In the end, the Yankees prevailed 14-5.
The Yankees defeated the Tigers the next day 10-4, but the Tigers prevailed after that bettering the Yankees 6-5 to keep their fragile hold of first place, which they held for a while. The Yankees grabbed first place briefly on July 30, but wouldn’t see the top spot of the division again until August 29. It was then a tough battle as the Yankees, Tigers, and Red Sox battled through the month of September. The Yankees grabbed first place for good on September 16.
The Yankees faced, and swept, the Whiz Kid Phillies in the 1950 World Series.
(Soon, we’ll travel back with another scorecard to the 1951 season…)