The 1947 season is remembered not for the performance of any particular team, but that of an individual named Jackie Robinson. The Brooklyn Dodger's newest prospect became the first black player to break baseball's color barrier and the rookie infielder brought the Negro leagues' electrifying style of play to the majors. Although he was still subject to resistance among the ignorant, Robinson quickly became baseball's top drawing card and a symbol of hope to millions of Americans. Jackie made quite a first impression with a .297 batting average, twelve home runs and a league-leading twenty-nine stolen bases in his first season.
The defending World Champion St. Louis Cardinals gave the Dodgers the best challenge in the National League pennant race, but ended up five games behind Brooklyn. Number 42 wasn't the only standout in Dodger blue as the "Bums from Brooklyn" also got solid production from its outfield. Pete Reiser totaled a .309 avg. in one-hundred ten games, Carl Furillo hit .295 with eighty-eight runs batted in and Dixie Walker tallied .306 and added ninety-four runs batted in. On the mound, Ralph Branca finished with a 21-12 record, Joe Hatten went 17-8 and Hugh Casey nailed down ten victories in relief.
The '47 Yankees, rallied down the stretch with a nineteen-game winning streak that began in late June and went on to win the American League pennant by a twelve-game margin. Despite lacking the usual "Bronx Bombers" mystique (with no player attaining one hundred runs batted in) and only one, Joe DiMaggio, reaching the twenty-homer level, the Yanks managed to counter the missing offense with great pitching. Allie Reynolds won nineteen games in his first season with the club (after being obtained from Cleveland), Spud Chandler led the league with a 2.46 ERA, rookie Spec Shea and ace reliever Joe Page both had fourteen wins and two new acquisitions and Bobo Newsom and Vic Raschi each won seven games.
Shea drew the start for Game 1 and got the Yankees off to a strong start with a 5-3 opening victory despite a great four-inning effort by the Dodger's Ralph Branca that imploded in the fifth. Reynolds maintained the Yanks momentum in Game 2 with a 10-3 triumph that featured a fifteen-hit rally by the Bronx Bombers. Leftfielder Johnny Lindell led the charge with two RBIs in each of the first two games. Back at Ebbet's Field, the Dodgers struck back with a crucial 9-8 win thanks to a six-run, second inning in which Brooklyn got two-run doubles from Eddie Stanky and pinch-hitter Carl Furillo. The Yankees almost came back after "Joe D" hit a two-run blast in the fifth, Tommy Henrich doubled home a Yankee run in the sixth and Yogi Berra added his own homer in the seventh. Unfortunately, it was too little - too late and the Dodgers held on for the victory.
Manager Bucky Harris chose Bill Bevens (winner of only seven-of-twenty decisions in '47) for Game 4 and the unlikely hero pitched one of the most amazing 9 2/3 innings in World Series history. Although he permitted a fifth inning run (on two walks, a sacrifice and a ground ball), he entered the ninth with a no-hitter and a 2-1 lead. Bruce Edwards started the Dodgers' half of the inning by flying out, and Furillo drew a walk. Then Spider Jorgensen fouled out, bringing Bevens within one out of the first no-hitter in World Series history. Reserve outfielder Al Gionfriddo was sent in to run for Furillo and Pete Reiser came in as a pinch-hitter for reliever Hugh Casey. Gionfriddo proceeded to steal second and Reiser was walked intentionally, despite the fact he represented the potential winning run. To add yet another change, Eddie Miksis was sent in to run for Reiser, who was bothered by a recurring leg injury. Eddie Stanky was the next in the line-up, but Burt Shotton, (who had stepped in as Dodgers' manager after Leo Durocher was suspended) replaced him with veteran Cookie Lavagetto. The "Chess like" strategy of Shotton's multiple player moves proved brilliant as Lavagetto walloped Bevens' second pitch and Gionfriddo and Miksis sped home ending the potential no-hitter and evening the Series at two games apiece.
Down, but far from out, the perennial American League Champions responded in true Yankees fashion by "shaking it off " and answering the call with a 2-1 tie-breaker on a Spec Shea four-hitter. Surprisingly, Brooklyn jumped to a 4-0 lead in Game 6 at Yankee Stadium, but fell behind 5-4, and then regained the lead with a four-run, sixth capped off by Pee Wee Reese's two-run single. Then, with two on and two out in the bottom of the sixth, Joe DiMaggio made a valiant effort to tie the game with a rocket launched toward the leftfield bullpen. Just as it appeared the ball might drop over the fence, Gionfriddo (inserted into the game as the Yankees came to bat) made a phenomenal glove-hand catch near the 415-foot mark sealing the victory.
Once again, Brooklyn had come from behind to tie the Series forcing a Game 7. Things appeared to go their way at the start of the Series finale when Brooklyn seized a 2-0 lead and drove Shea from the mound in the second. The rally was short lived though as the Yankees scored a run in the second, two in the fourth and had tremendous relief pitching from Joe Page. The Yankees ace went on to throw five scoreless innings while allowing only one hit in the 5-2, Series ending triumph. For several standouts including Lavagetto, Gionfriddo and Bevens, it would be not only their last World Series, but also their last Major League games.