Sunday, March 13, 2011

1954 New York Yankees

Best Yankees Team 1949-1958?
How about a team that wins 103 games, yet still finishes 8 games out? It happened to the Yankees in 1954. The Yankees were in the middle of quite a run from 1949 to 1958 (and on through 1964 really). They had won the previous 5 World Series titles leading into 1954. They would go on to appear in the next 4 World Series, winning 2 of them. Yet none of those AL pennant winning teams would win as many games in a season as the 1954 edition of the Yankees would. This just happened to be the season the Indians set a record for wins in a season.

This team was led by an amazing offense, led by Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra and a solid supporting cast with Irv Noren, Gil McDougald, Andy Carey, and Hank Bauer. The pitching side wasn't as strong, but was led by a solid season by Whitey Ford.

Big Market/Small Market Teams
A lot of the discussions around the competitive balance issue in baseball has been regarding the concept of large market/small market teams. Lately the Yankees and to a lesser extent, the Red Sox, Dodgers, and a few others are said to have the benefit of being able to pay players more money because they play in larger markets. This is opposed to fans who came up in the 1970s and 1980s, where it seemed any team could win in any given year. The Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates, now considered the smallest market teams were in the post season quite often in the late 1970s-early 1980s. The 1980s was also a down time for the Yankees.

To hear it being put, this big market/small market concept is new to baseball...but take a look at the major leagues in the 1940s-1950s. New York was the biggest market and they had three teams. There were no teams in Los Angeles then and many of the other cities were split in two, as there were teams in both leagues for cities such as Boston, St. Louis, Chicago, and Philadelphia. From 1949 when the Yankees won the World Series until 1956 when the Yankees won out over the Brooklyn Dodgers, a New York based team won the World Series every year, a stretch of 8 seasons. Maybe this advantage of playing in a large market has always been there.

er and Hall-of-Fame/All-Star Scores
Exclusive players to a particular set are in italics

Topps Regulars (10): Yogi Berra, Joe Collins, Andy Carey, Phil Rizzuto, Gene Woodling, Hank Bauer, Bill Skowron, Whitey Ford, Ed Lopat, Johnny Sain

Bowman Regulars (10): Yogi Berra, Gil McDougald, Phil Rizzuto, Gene Woodling, Mickey Mantle, Hank Bauer, Jerry Coleman, Whitey Ford, Allie Reynolds, Harry Byrd

Topps All-Stars & Hall-of-Famers (4): Hank Bauer, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Phil Rizzuto

Bowman All-Stars & Hall-of-Famers (7): Hank Bauer, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle, Allie Reynolds, Phil Rizzuto, Enos Slaughter (shown as a Cardinal)

Topps really takes a killing here on the really big names. They only have four regulars exclusive to their set, none of which were hall-of-famers or all-stars in 1954. Meanwhile, all of the hall-of-famers and all-stars that can be found in the Topps set are all available in the Bowman set. Probably the biggest killer here is that Mickey Mantle was available only in the Bowman set. As much as Topps has tried to tie itself to Mickey Mantle's legacy the last few years, this is a key set not to have an early Mickey Mantle card in. Out of the three biggest names here (Mantle, Berra, Ford), Topps at least does have two of those. Neither set (or any regional set that I know of) has a card of Irv Noren who was on the 1954 all-star team.

For team collectors, Topps makes up some ground as they have 5 players beyond the starters in their set and Bowman has 3, with Eddie Robinson being in both sets. Again, though Bowman has a card of Enos Slaughter, a hall-of-famer who made his name with the Cardinals throughout the 1940s and early 1950s. He is actually pictured as a Cardinal, as 1954 was the first season on the shuttle between Kansas City and New York and eventually an 11 game appearance with the 1959 Milwaukee Braves that would wind down his career. He was a bench player for this team.

__ TO 50 C Yogi Berra NYY
__ TO 83 1B Joe Collins NYY
__ BO 97 2B Gil McDougald NYY
__ TO 105 3B Andy Carey NYY
__ TO 17 SS Phil Rizzuto NYY
__ TO 101 LF Gene Woodling NYY
__ BO 65 CF Mickey Mantle NYY
__ TO 130 RF Hank Bauer NYY

OF Irv Noren
__ BO 81 MI Jerry Coleman NYY
__ TO 239 1B Bill Skowron NYY
Starting Pitchers
__ TO 37 SP Whitey Ford NYY

SP Bob Grim
__ BO 113 SP Allie Reynolds NYY
__ TO 5 SP Ed Lopat NYY

SP Tom Morgan
__ BO 49 SP Harry Byrd NYY
Relief Pitchers
__ TO 205 CL Johnny Sain NYY

SP Jim McDonald
Other Players
__ TO 62 1B Eddie Robinson NYY
__ BO 62 RF Enos Slaughter STL
__ TO 56 SS Willy Miranda NYY

LF Bob Cerv

3B Bobby Brown
__ TO 96 C Charlie Silvera NYY

C Lou Berberet
__ TO 175 1B Frank Leja NYY

IF Woodie Held

C Gus Triandos

PH Ralph Houk

SP Tommy Byrne
__ TO 230 RP Bob Kuzava NYY
__ BO 17 RP Tom Gorman NYY

SP Bob Wiesler

RP Jim Konstanty

RP Marlin Stuart

RP Art Schallock

SP Ralph Branca

SP Bill Miller

MG Casey Stengel

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