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How Did Reynolds & Raschi Do It?

By Jed Weisberger ~ December 28th, 2009. Filed under: NY Baseball Memories.

Not only is the MLB Network making winter easier to take, its programming is beginning to fascinate me.

The channel, this past Saturday night, presented the NBC tapes of Games 6 and 7 of the 1952 World Series, played in Ebbets Field. While Hilda Chester and her cowbell were not heard from the outfield bleachers, the Dodgers Symphony’s version of ballpark Dixieland certainly was.

Yankees voice Mel Allen and then-Dodgers voice Red Barber called the action in black-and-white. The camera work was outstanding for that era.

The 1952 Series – as many have told me, since I was 9 months old at the time in Washington Heights – was one of the best played between the bitter rivals during the Golden Age of New York baseball.

For Yankees fans, there were pitcher Vic Raschl’s stellar efforts in Games 1 and 6, Mickey Mantle’s first two World Series home runs, Billy Martin’s legendary lunging catch of Jackie Robinson’s pop up in the seventh inning of Game 7 and the clutch wins – one as a starter and one as a reliever – by Allie Reynolds.

For the Dodgers, pitchers Joe Black, Preacher Roe and Carl Erskine scored the wins, in Games 1, 3 and 5. Duke Snider belted four home runs.  Billy Cox and Pee Wee Reese dazzled in the field at third and short, respectively.

Game 5 is known as a classic, a contest played Oct. 5 in Yankee Stadium in which the Dodgers,  before 70,536 , fought back from a 5-4 deficit after blowing a 4-0 lead to win, 6-5, in 11 innings.

What fascinates me is how the pitchers performed.  Raschi was 16-6, 2.78 in 1952, threw 223 innings, had 13 complete games and four shutouts. Reynolds was even more impressive, recording a 20-8, 2.06 mark, tossing 24 complete games and six shutouts in 244.1 innings.

In this series, the two not only started, but relieved, with Reynolds, who was 2-1 in the seven games, picking up a save in the Yankees’ 3-2 Game 6 victory and the win in relief in Game 7.  Raschi also relieved in Game 7, a 4-2 Yankees triumph.

Compare that to today’s world, in which Yankees pitchers Yankees pitchers C.C. Sabathia, A.J.Burnett and Andy Pettitte tossing on three-days rest was a big deal. They were able to do it in our era because of the off-days built into the postseason schedule.

Raschi and Reynolds pitched in a seven-game series in which there were no days off.

Granted life was a bit different in those days:

For starters, the teams played a 154-game schedule, with Casey Stengel’s Yankees going 95-59 and Chuck Dressen’s Dodgers recording a 96-57 mark.

There was only the World Series, with the exceptionof a playoff here and there, like the epic 1951 series between the Dodgers and Giants.

There was familarity. Each team played 22 games against seven opponents from 1920-1960 in the AL and from 1920-1961 in the NL.

Still, the amount of complete games and ability to pitch on back-to-back days was nothing out of the ordinary.

What is the difference today? Is it specialization? Is it the standard to put up programs like the Joba Rules?  Is it better for today’s pitchers to throw less?

I’d love to know the answers.

By the way, the winners’ share in 1952 was $5,983, the losers’ $4,201.

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Jed spent 35 years in the newspaper business working as both a writer and editor, in both sports and news under tight deadline pressure. As both sports editor at the Indiana (Pa.) Gazette and a copy editor/columnist at The Times of Trenton, he made daily decisions on overall coverage and designed and produced thousands of pages and special sections. Since accepting a buyout from The Times, he has concentrated on broadening his writing and editing horizons to the medical, academic and business fields. Anyone is welcome to Google Jed to see the different places in print, on the Web and in front of the camera his professional expertise has spread to.

1 Response to How Did Reynolds & Raschi Do It?

  1. barry

    Nice piece. My father used to speak highly of Reynolds and Raschi as durable and money pitchers, though not in as revered terms that were saved for Joe Dimaggio and Lou Gehrig. It is curious how Yankee pitchers from the past have not received their fair due as hitters have.

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