Twenty-two players and three managers active on the New York teams between 1947 and 1957 were elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, along with executives Branch Rickey, Larry MacPhail, and George Weiss. Numerous New York sportswriters and broadcasters were also honored in the Hall. Some of the players only passed through New York before or after prominent careers with other clubs, but several achieved in New York the highest level of excellence even when measured against other Hall of Famers.
The roll call of such all-time heroes might begin with Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Yogi Berra of the Yankees; Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, and Roy Campanella of the Dodgers; Willie Mays and Monte Irvin of the Giants. This section showcases Glory Days players and managers who have been honored by inclusion in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
Walter Alston (1911-1984) | Brooklyn Dodgers manager, 1954-1957
With a lifetime major league record consisting of one at bat, the quiet Alston, whom Monte Irvin called "the strong, silent type – a man's man," at first struggled to win the confidence of his veteran players. In his second year, however, he and the Dodgers won a world championship at last. With the Los Angeles Dodgers he won three more.
Roy Campanella (1921-1993) | Brooklyn Dodgers catcher, 1948-1957
A three-time MVP, “Campy” was a powerful right-handed batter and an outstanding receiver with a joyous approach to the game. He was famous for saying, “You have to be a man to be a big leaguer, but you have to have a lot of little boy in you, too.”
Don Drysdale (1936-1993) | Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher, 1956-1957
In his second year in Brooklyn, the 21-year-old Drysdale won 17 games, hinting at the greatness to come in Los Angeles. In 1968, he threw six shutouts in a row and broke Walter Johnson’s record for consecutive scoreless innings.
Sandy Koufax (born 1935) | Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher, 1955-1957
Koufax grew up playing ball in Jewish community clubs in Brooklyn and at Lafayette High School, and he came to the Dodgers at 19 as a raw talent. Later in Los Angeles, he threw three no-hitters, including a perfect game, and won an MVP and three Cy Young Awards. A powerhouse to the end, he won 27 games in his final season.
Tommy Lasorda (born 1927) | Brooklyn Dodgers manager, 1954-1955
Though he spent little time on the big-league roster, this left-handed pitcher long stuck in the Brooklyn farm system famously said, “I bleed Dodger blue.” He won a plaque in Cooperstown by leading Los Angeles to the postseason six times in 12 seasons.
Pee Wee (Harold) Reese (1918-1999) | Brooklyn Dodgers shortstop, 1940-1942, 1946-1957
Captain of the Dodgers, shortstop Pee Wee Reese was the glue of the infield and the soul of the team. The Louisville native stood up for Jackie Robinson privately and publicly, helping to make integration take hold on the playing fields and, if haltingly, elsewhere.
Jackie Robinson (1919-1972) | Brooklyn Dodgers infielder, 1947-1956
Because he endures as a hero on a national scale, it may be easy to forget how great a ballplayer Jackie Robinson was. Rookie of the Year under the most daunting circumstances, he went on two years later to capture the MVP with a batting average of .342, along with 124 RBIs and 37 steals.
Duke Snider (born 1926) | Brooklyn Dodgers outfielder, 1947-1957
The “Duke of Flatbush” supplied the left-handed power in a right-handed Dodger lineup, belting 40 or more home runs in five straight seasons. A stylish center fielder with a distinctive stance and swing, he was hero to a generation of youthful imitators.
“Arky” Floyd Vaughan (1912-1952) | Brooklyn Dodgers shortstop, 1942-1943, 1947-1948
The best-hitting shortstop in the National League since Honus Wagner, Vaughan hit .385 with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1935. He was reduced to a part-time role with the Dodgers in the Glory Days, but in limited play in 1947 he batted .325 and collected a double in the World Series.
Leo Durocher (1905-1991) | New York Giants manager 1948-1955; Brooklyn Dodgers manager 1939-1946, 1948
“I don’t know how he did it, but he could make you play better than you thought you could,” said Dixie Walker. “Leo Durocher is a man with an infinite capacity for immediately making a bad thing worse,” said Branch Rickey. They were both right.
Hoyt Wilhelm (1923-2002) | New York Giants pitcher, 1952-1956
As a 28-year-old knuckleballing rookie, Wilhelm was 15-3 with 11 saves in 1952 and hit a home run in his first at bat (he never hit another). He went on to throw a no-hitter in a brief experiment as a starter, but it was his work in relief that enabled him to pitch in the big leagues until he was one month short of 49.
Monte Irvin (born 1919) | New York Giants outfielder, 1949-1955
Generally regarded as the best player in the Negro Leagues in the mid 1940s, Irvin came to the Giants as a 30-year-old rookie. “This should have happened to me 10 years ago,” he said at the time. “I’m not half the ballplayer I was then.” All the same, Irvin made the most of his first World Series game, in 1951, going four-for-five and stealing home.
Ernie Lombardi (1908-1977) | New York Giants catcher, 1943-1947
The slowest man in baseball, “The Schnozz” was a career .306 hitter who, in 1938, led the National League with a .342 batting average without ever getting a “leg hit.” After breaking in with Brooklyn in 1931 and enjoying his best years with Cincinnati and Boston, he finished up with the Giants in 1947 at age 39, still a fine hitter.
Willie Mays (born 1931) | New York Giants outfielder, 1951-1957
“He could do the five things you have to do to be a superstar,” said Leo Durocher—“hit, hit with power, run, throw, and field. And he had that other magic ingredient that turns a superstar into a super superstar. He lit up the room when he came in. He was a joy to be around.” He is widely considered the best all-around player of his era, and maybe any other.
Johnny Mize (1913-1993) | New York Giants first baseman, 1942, 1946-1949; New York Yankees first baseman, 1949-1953
Mize was a prodigious slugger with the Cardinals, but was sent to the Giants in 1942 after a salary dispute with Branch Rickey. With the Giants in 1947, he hit 51 home runs. As a Yankee, he had a gift for hitting postseason home runs.
Mel Ott (1908-1958) | New York Giants outfielder, 1926-1947, manager, 1942-1948
The first National Leaguer to hit 500 home runs, “Master Melvin” was a genuinely nice guy, though he tried to be gruff with the players when he took the reins of the Giants. It didn’t work. In mid-1948, he was replaced by Leo Durocher, who had said in reference to him, “Nice guys finish last.”
Red Schoendienst (born 1923) | New York Giants second baseman, 1956-1957
The second baseman had been a perennial all-star with the Cardinals for a decade when, in mid-1956, he was shipped to New York and the Giants, who in turn traded him to Milwaukee in mid-1957. He led the Braves to the pennant in that year and in 1958. In his two unusual half-seasons with the Giants, he hit .300 as usual.
Casey Stengel (1890-1975) | Outfielder: Dodgers 1912-1917; Giants 1921-1923. Manager: Dodgers 1934-1936; Yankees 1946-1960; Mets 1962-1964
Stengel had been a flop in managerial turns in Brooklyn and Boston, so when the Yankees hired him in 1949 the press was skeptical. He responded by winning ten pennants in 12 years, including seven world championships, five of them in a row.
Yogi Berra (born 1925) | New York Yankees catcher, 1946-1963
Today as famous for his paradoxical wisdom as for his unparalleled playing career, Berra was Casey Stengel’s indispensable player. He was part of 15 All-Star squads, 14 pennant winners, and ten world champions. He won three MVPs, and he went on to manage both the Yanks and the Mets to the flag.
Joe DiMaggio (1914-1999) | New York Yankees outfielder, 1936-1942, 1946-1951
Joltin’ Joe, the “Yankee Clipper,” sold coffee makers, married Marilyn Monroe, hit in 56 consecutive games, and in 1969 was voted baseball's “Greatest Living Player." Fans who saw him swing or patrol center field never forgot it.
Whitey (Edward) Ford (born 1928) | New York Yankees pitcher, 1950, 1953-1967
Ford was the toughest pitcher to defeat in modern history. When he hung up his spikes, his 236-106 record gave him a career winning percentage of .690. In the World Series he was even better, as his 32 consecutive scoreless frames broke Babe Ruth’s mark of 29 2/3.
Mickey Mantle (1931-1995) | New York Yankees outfielder, 1951-1968
The idol of a generation, “The Mick” could drive the ball farther and run the bases faster than anyone in the game. He piled up impressive numbers and might have amassed more but for injury, yet his mystique was greater than his stats and, despite his self-confessed alcoholism, he remains a hero to those who saw him at his best.
Phil Rizzuto (1917-2007) | New York Yankees shortstop, 1941-1942, 1946-1956
“The Scooter” was a fixture at the game’s most difficult position during his team’s greatest seasons. In 1950, he won the American League MVP, batting .324. Recognized as a Hall of Fame shortstop by some and as a Hall of Fame announcer by others, he has left an indelible mark on the game.
Enos Slaughter (1916-2002) | New York Yankees outfielder, 1954-1959
A longtime St. Louis Cardinals star, Slaughter was crestfallen when he was traded to the Yankees in 1954 and, after a stopover in Kansas City, he came back to the Bronx in 1956. At the age of 40, he was platooned in the outfield and hit .350 in the World Series win over the Dodgers.
Bucky (Stanley) Harris (1896-1977) | New York Yankees manager, 1947-1948
A “boy wonder” manager and second baseman with the world champion Washington Senators of 1924, Harris was brought in to manage the Yankees in 1947 and immediately won a world championship. When the team failed to repeat the following year, he was dismissed in favor of Casey Stengel.