The Braves had last hosted a World Series game in 1948, and that game was played in Boston. In 1957 the Braves, in their fifth season in Milwaukee, won the National League pennant. The first two games of the World Series were played in New York. The Yankees, behind Whitey Ford, had won the opener, while the Braves, behind Lew Burdette, had won Game Two.
Readers of the Milwaukee Journal who opened the evening paper on October 5 expecting to see headlines about their beloved Braves hosting their first-ever World Series game were a bit disappointed. Grabbing the headlines that evening was news of the launch of a Russian satellite that would initiate the space race. The fans of the Braves discovered ample coverage of their team, but there was little to smile about.
Braves fans had spent the summer watching the pennant race, and were not about to be denied their moment of glory as they trudged off en masse to Milwaukee County Stadium. Gerald Keith, a disabled veteran from Traverse City, Michigan, threw out the first ball.1 The Game Three pitching matchup was Bob Turley of the Yanks against Bob Buhl of the Braves, and 45,084 people poured through the turnstiles, many of them in topcoats to ward off the chill that can define an October day in Wisconsin. Those hoping for a pitchers’ duel were quickly disappointed.
The Yankees came to bat in the first inning and wasted no time. With one out, Tony Kubek came to the plate. He had played six different positions during the regular season and would show his versatility again in the World Series. He started Game Three in left field, and during the Series would start at third base and center field as well. Kubek, a Milwaukee native, would be named the American League’s Rookie of the Year. Indeed, during the Braves’ first year in Milwaukee, 1953, Kubek had worked out with the team, in order to get free passes.2 However, in 1957, his welcome in his hometown was not hospitable; he was seen as a “traitor,” playing with the Yankees. In attendance were his parents and two sisters. Kubek’s father had played six seasons of minor-league ball, and had played in Milwaukee, batting .357, when Yankees manager Casey Stengel was managing at Toledo in 1931.
Buhl pitched Kubek inside and Tony proceeded to pull the ball, hitting a liner to right that eluded the glove of Braves right fielder Bob Hazle and barely cleared the 355-foot sign for a homer that put the Yankees in front, 1-0.
Buhl then had trouble finding the plate and walked Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra. When Buhl tried to pick off Mantle, he fired the ball past second baseman Red Schoendienst into center field, allowing the runners to advance to second and third. A sacrifice fly by Gil McDougald and a single by Harry “Suitcase”Simpson brought in two more runs and Buhl’s day was over. Juan Pizarro came in and stopped the bleeding for the time being.
Turley, who had won 13 games during the course of the season, did not have his best stuff either as he allowed a single and two walks in the opening frame to load the bases, before getting Joe Adcock to look at strike three, ending the threat. However, in the second inning, Bullet Bob suffered continued wildness. A walk, a single, and a wild pitch put Braves at the corners with one out before Schoendienst, with his second hit of the game, singled home Hazle with the Braves’ first run. Two batters later, Turley had loaded the bases for the second time in as many innings. There were two out and Henry Aaron was stepping to the plate. Stengel, known for his quick hook, strolled to the mound and took the ball from Turley. Coming into the game was none other than Don Larsen, whose last mound appearance in the World Series had been his perfect game the year before. Larsen put out the fire, and the Yankees took a 3-1 lead to the third inning.
Pizarro’s command escaped him and singles by Mantle and Berra put runners at the corners with none out in the third. Mantle attempted to score on McDougald’s grounder to third baseman Eddie Mathews, but was caught in a rundown and tagged out by Mathews. Stengel then sent up right-handed-hitting Elston Howard to bat for Simpson. Howard walked to fill the bases. Jerry Lumpe’s single plated Berra and McDougald, and chased Pizarro from the box. Gene Conley came on and prevented further scoring, but his team was now down by four runs.
One inning later, the deficit was six runs as Mantle homered with Kubek aboard to make it 7-1. With Larsen mowing down the Braves in order in the third and fourth innings, bringing his streak of consecutive batters retired in World Series competition to a record 34, the lead appeared to be secure.
However, in the bottom of the fifth, the Braves touched up Larsen for a pair of runs as Johnny Logan singled and Aaron homered. The Braves were within four runs, but they would get no closer. They threatened, loading the bases twice more but coming up empty. In the bottom of the sixth inning, with two out, Schoendienst stroked his third single, Logan singled for the second time, and Mathews drew a walk to load the bases for Aaron, who had homered his last time up. This time, Henry grounded to third to end the inning.
Whatever question there was about the outcome was settled in the Yankees’ half of the seventh inning. Bob Trowbridge was in to pitch for the Braves. He was their fifth hurler of the day and would prove to be the least effective. He sandwiched two outs among three walks (the last to Larsen) and the bags were full as Hank Bauer stepped to the plate. Bauer’s single brought home a pair of runs and then Kubek, who was already 2-for-4 with a homer and two runs scored, delivered his second homer of the game, once again pulling an inside pitch to right field, which put the Yanks up 12-3.
Facing a seemingly insurmountable lead in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Braves sent up their heavy-hitting combo of Mathews, Aaron, and Wes Covington. A walk to Mathews and a single by Aaron set the table for Covington, but the left-hander sent a harmless fly ball to Kubek in left field. Pinch-hitter Andy Pafko was hit by a Larsen pitch and the Braves had loaded the bases once again, but Larsen retired the next two batters and the game was over. The elapsed time was 3 hours and 18 minutes.
Larsen was outstanding in relief for the Yankees and was credited with the win after allowing only two runs and five hits in his 7⅓ innings. It was his second win in World Series competition. In all, Larsen pitched in 10 World Series games during his career, posting a 4-2 record with a 2.75ERA.
The Braves pitchers’ failure to find home plate resulted in their tying a World Series record of 11 walks. (The record had been set the prior fall by the Yankees against the Dodgers.) This caused Arthur Daley of the New York Times to note, “Milwaukee folks already have started grasping for straws. Here’s one for them to treasure … No team that ever gave up eleven bases on balls in one series game ever lost the postseason classic.”3 Mr. Daley’s premonition proved to be accurate in 1957.
Home-plate umpire Bill McKinley was stingy when it came to calling strikes, and the Yankees pitchers surrendered eight walks to the Braves. The combined 19 walks were also a World Series record.
Mantle’s homer in the fourth inning was his ninth in World Series competition. Over the course of his career, he hit a record 18 homers in the fall classic. Aaron’s homer in the fifth inning was his first of three during the 1957 World Series. They were his only homers in the two World Series in which he played.
Kubek’s two homers made him the 12th man in history to get two home runs in a World Series game. Stengel’s comments about his young player summed up the afternoon. “He lives here in Milwaukee and waited until he got home to let everyone know he’s a big leaguer.”4
This article appears in “From the Braves to the Brewers: Great Games and Exciting History at Milwaukee’s County Stadium” (SABR, 2016), edited by Gregory H. Wolf. To read more stories from this book at the SABR Games Project, click here.
Drebinger, John. “Kubek Sets Pace: Belts Two Homers for Yanks for 4 Runs Against Braves,” New York Times, October 6, 1957: 1S.
McGowen, Roscoe. “Haney Complains About Umpires’ Decisions That Prove Costly to Braves,” New York Times, October 6, 1957: 3S.
Milwaukee Journal, October 5, 1957: 1.
Google News Archive
Interview with Tony Kubek, May 11, 2015.
1 Milwaukee Journal, October 5, 1957: 1.
2New York Times, October 6, 1957: 2S.
3 Arthur Daley, “Sports of the Times,” New York Times, October 6, 1957: 2S.
4 Louis Effrat, “Kubek’s Homecoming Something Milwaukee Fans Will Find Hard to Forget,” New York Times, October 6, 1957: 2S.