I was going through some of my collection of older baseball items and came across this booklet published by the Maco Magazine Corporation for Phillies Cigars prior to the 1960 baseball season. The magazine was edited by Murray Olderman.
I thought it would be fun to summarize what this small magazine published about the Yankees prior to that season – a season that saw the Yankees win the American League prior to them losing in the classic 1960 World Series to the Pittsburgh Pirates. (See below, under the photo…)
“The men most puzzled by the collapse last year of the New York Yankees-pennant winners in nine of the previous 10 seasons-were the Yanks themselves, from Casey Stengel on down. It was a problem that haunted them all winter, one that had no satisfactory explanation.
Who would expect Mickey Mantle, the superstar of this era and in good health, to hit .285?
Who would figure Bob Turley, the top pitcher in the majors in 1958, to wind up an 8-11 loser with no excuse such as arm trouble or age (he’s at a peak 29)?
Why should Gil McDougald, at 31 and a .280 hitter for his career, slump to .251 and look slow afield?
What made Elston Howard’s batting average drop 41 points to .273?
There were additional disappointments: Don Larsen going downhill all the way to Kansas City; Tony Kubek failing to show the fielding poise of a big league shortstop; Whitey Ford bothered by a sore elbow and losing 10 games )of course, he won 16).
There were those who criticized the Yankees for not taking advantage of the new inter-league trading period last December to wheedle a big pitcher out of the Braves for a surplus infielder. About the only thing the erstwhile champs did was turn to their Kansas City “cousins” and lure away Roger Maris to fill the leftfield void while giving up on Larsen, Marv Thronberry, Hank Bauer, and Norm Siebern. Kent Hadley (a first baseman) and Joe DeMaestri (a shortstop) were also thrown in by the A’s, but the big fish was Maris, who confirms to the Yankee mold of power, speed and good defense. The plan is to flank Mantle with Hector Lopez, another ex-Athletic, in right and Maris in left, through Roger prefers rightfield.
Besides the collapse of the stars, the other explanation of the Yankee drop to third place-15 games behind the leaders-was the farm system’s failure to produce.
The good kids have not been living up to their promise; Siebern and Thronberry are key examples. Catcher Johnny Blanchard, Yankee property for eight years, may have the goods but he’s never had a chance behind Berra and Howard. Deron Johnson, only 21, has been boomed as a new Mantle for three years but is always sent back. Maybe he’ll stick this time.
The pitchers have been even more disappointing. There hasn’t been an outstanding home-grown Yankee chucker since Ford came up 10 years ago. Among the holdovers, a late-season flash by Jim Coates (6-1) affords a glimmer of hope. And Bill Short, a Ford-type lefthander who won 17 at Richmond, should help.
The one exception to the string of failures was Bobby Richardson, firmly entrenched at second base for years to come. It’ll also be nice to welcome back Moose Skowron at first, his fractured wrist mended.
Chiefly, though, the hope of the New Yorkers is that it was just one of those years and that the big guns will right themselves in ‘60.
I plan to share more period pieces like this is the days and weeks to come.
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