Although they were not elected to the Hall of Fame, the players represented here made remarkable contributions to their teams during one or more of the 11 seasons from 1947 – 1957. Some have come close to Cooperstown fame many times – Gil Hodges particularly – while others like Billy Martin may yet be named to baseball’s highest honor. Some, like Don Larsen or Bobby Thomson, are celebrated for their notable single-game heroics, while others are remembered for their long-term contributions to the success of their clubs.
Carl Furillo (1922-1999) | Brooklyn Dodgers outfielder, 1948-1957
“Skoonj” played his entire career for the Dodgers, including three seasons in Los Angeles. His best season was in 1953 when he had the highest batting average in the National League, despite ending the season with a broken finger incurred in a brawl with the Giants.
Gil Hodges (1924-1972) | Brooklyn Dodgers first baseman, 1947-1957
A slick fielding first baseman and RBI specialist, Hodges was a favorite with fans and teammates alike. When his playing skills waned he was dealt to the Mets, whom he managed to a world championship in the miracle year of 1969.
Ralph Branca (born 1926) | Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher, 1946-1953, 1956
A 21-game winner at age 21 in 1947, Branca was also an All-Star in the next two seasons. Though he is recalled most often for the epochal 0-1 pitch to Bobby Thomson that lost the pennant for the Dodgers in 1951, Branca’s prime legacy may be his longtime work on behalf of indigent former ballplayers.
Don Larsen (born 1929) | New York Yankees pitcher, 1955-1959
“The imperfect man threw a perfect game,” one writer summed it up. “Hell froze over,” wrote another. Larsen never won more than the 11 games he won in 1956, and he never threw another game like that on October 8, 1956. But for one shining moment, he was atop the baseball world when he threw the only perfect game in World Series history.
Eddie Lopat (1918-1992) | New York Yankees pitcher, 1948-1955
“The Junkman” survived because of good control and a variety of curveballs, screwballs, sliders, and knuckleballs, thrown with different speeds from different arm angles. Upsetting hitters’ timing, the steady lefthander won 20 games in 1951 and topped the league in ERA two years later.
Bobby Thomson (born 1923) | New York Giants outfielder, 1946-1953, 1957
Before October 3, 1951 Bobby Thomson was known as the fastest player in the National League and a formidable home run and RBI man. After that date, and forever more, he became known as the man who fired the “shot heard ’round the world.”
Sid Gordon (1917-1975) | New York Giants third baseman, 1943-1949
Born in Brooklyn, Gordon reluctantly signed with the Giants. There he became one of the premier power hitters in baseball. In 1948 he hit .299 with 30 homers and 107 RBIs, but he was traded to the Boston Braves when new manager Leo Durocher shifted the team’s image from slugging to speed.
Preacher (Elwin Charles) Roe (born 1915) | Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher, 1948-1954
In 1947 with Pittsburgh, Roe went 4-15 with an ERA of 5.25. Four years later with Brooklyn his record was turned around to 22-3. Mastering the spitter in addition to his former repertoire of breaking pitches, Roe had become nearly unbeatable.
Sal Maglie (1917-1992) | New York Giants pitcher, 1945, 1950-1955; Brooklyn Dodgers, 1956-1957; New York Yankees, 1957-1958
“The Barber” was a tough guy who didn’t hesitate to throw inside; when he starred with the Giants, Dodger fans hated him. When he was traded to Brooklyn in mid-1956, however, Dodger fans came to love him, especially when he won 13 games for his new home team and no-hit the Phillies.
Tommy Henrich (born 1913) | New York Yankees outfielder, 1937-1950
“Old Reliable” had been a steady player with the Yankees since 1937 when he won the opening game of the 1949 World Series with a home run. It was very nearly a last hurrah for Henrich, who would retire the following year, but it was the sort of clutch performance that had made him a perennial All-Star.
Billy Martin (1928-1989) | New York Yankees second baseman, 1950-1957
“Billy the Kid” was a combative player with a reputation for braininess; he made the World Series saving catch in 1952 and won the Series MVP in 1953. He loved the Yankees, even when they traded him to Kansas City or fired him (five times!) as a manager.
Bill Skowron (born 1930) | New York Yankees first baseman, 1954-1962
“Moose” Skowron provided right-handed power to a dominantly left-handed Yankee lineup. He batted over .300 in his first four seasons with the team, from 1954 through 1957. From 1960 through 1962, he hit more than 20 home runs each season.
Hank Bauer (1918-2007) | New York Yankees outfielder, 1948-1959
Jim Murray once said that Hank Bauer had a face like a clenched fist, topped by a Marine Corps crewcut. But his teammates loved this tough guy who still holds the record with hits in 17 consecutive World Series games. He managed the Orioles to the world championship in 1966.
Whitey Lockman (born 1926) | New York Giants outfielder/first baseman, 1945, 1947-1956, 1957
Lockman was a baseball lifer not only because of his versatility and knack for coming through when it mattered, but also because he just knew how to relate to people. His combination of affability and acumen kept him in baseball for some 50 years, extending from WWII to the expansion-era Florida Marlins.
Don Mueller (born 1927) | New York Giants outfielder, 1948-1957
Second to teammate Willie Mays in the National League batting race in the Giants’ championship season of 1954, “Mandrake the Magician” was said to wave his bat as if it were a wand to poke hits through the infield. He hit .341 that season and earlier had played a key part in the ultimate playoff game of 1951.
Al Dark (born 1922) | New York Giants shortstop, 1950-1956
With second baseman Eddie Stanky, Dark moved from the Boston Braves to join the Giants in 1950. His savvy in the field and solid contribution at the plate proved critical in the 1951 pennant run. Dark may have been the equal of Reese and Rizzuto, but he never won the fanfare nor made it to Cooperstown.
Eddie Stanky (1916-1999) | Brooklyn Dodgers second baseman, 1944-1947; New York Giants, 1950-1951
“The Brat” was as irritating to National League opponents as Billy Martin was in the American League. He left Brooklyn for Boston after the 1947 season to enable Jackie Robinson’s move from first base. With Alvin Dark he formed a double-play combo that led the Braves in 1948, and then the Giants in 1951, to the pennant.
Don Newcombe (born 1926) | Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher, 1949-1957
“Big Newk” won the big three awards--Rookie of the Year in 1949 and MVP and Cy Young in 1956, when he went 27-7. He was drafted to serve in the Korean War “at the height of his powers,” in the words of historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, who recalled “The tragedy of war seemed real to me only when it directly affected the fortunes of the Brooklyn Dodgers.”
Carl Erskine (born 1926) | Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher, 1948-1957
“Oisk” threw two no-hitters (in 1952 and 1956); went 20-6 in his best season, 1953; and in that year’s World Series set a record with 14 strikeouts in Game Three. A chronically sore arm spelled an end to his career midway in his second year in Los Angeles.