Mains: Uncaught third strikes and poor Mickey Owen

From SABR member Rob Mains at Baseball Prospectus on October 13, 2016:

I’m going to show you two graphs, and then another graph. But first, I’m going to tell you a story.

The 1941 season was a famous one in baseball. There are books written about it. Joe DiMaggio hit in 56 straight games, a record that remains unassailable. Ted Williams hit .406, the last .400 season. (DiMaggio won the MVP over the irascible Williams even though Williams out-hit him by far, .406/.553/.735—I typed those correctly—compared to .357/.440/.643.)

More ominously, it was the last season before the U.S. entered World War II following the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7. Less well-remembered, 1941 was the first year in which the Brooklyn Dodgers met the New York Yankees in the World Series.

The Yankees were in the midst of their second dynasty. The first, from 1921–1932–the Ruth/Gehrig years–yielded seven American League pennants and four World Series. From DiMaggio’s rookie year, 1936, through 1941, the Yankees won five of six pennants and World Series. The Dodgers, by contrast, were making their first postseason appearance since 1920, when the team, then known as the Robins, lost the best-of-nine World Series to the Indians, 5-2, four years after falling to the Red Sox.

The 1941 World Series would set the tone for the Dodgers-Yankees contests, as the Dodgers lost five series to their American League rivals before finally winning in 1955 (before losing one last time the following season). The teams split two games in the Bronx, both by 3-2 scores, before the Yankees won the third game in Brooklyn 2-1. The next day, the Dodgers took a 4-3 lead in the fifth on a two-run Pete Reiser home run. It stood into the ninth inning.

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Originally published: October 13, 2016. Last Updated: October 13, 2016.