Legend has it that Josh Gibson may have been the only person to belt a fair ball out of the original Yankee Stadium, a blast said to have taken place in 1930. Like Babe Ruth’s called shot in the ‘32 World Series or Mickey Mantle’s supposed 565-foot blast in ‘53,
Legend has it that Josh Gibson may have been the only person to belt a fair ball out of the original Yankee Stadium, a blast said to have taken place in 1930. Like Babe Ruth’s called shot in the ‘32 World Series or Mickey Mantle’s supposed 565-foot blast in ‘53, the event remains open for debate, but it’s clear that few men of his day could hit the ball farther or harder.
Gibson and his 1931 Homestead Grays of the Negro Leagues virtually returned to Bronx soil in the Round of 32 of MLB’s Dream Bracket 2, taking on the “M&M Boys” of Mantle and Roger Maris and the 1961 Yankees. The Bombers showed off their big bats in the six-game series, as Yogi Berra and Clete Boyer each belted three homers. Other than Gibson (10-for-23, two homers, seven RBIs), the Grays’ offense was kept in the yard.
• Box score and game summary
Ace Whitey Ford made the difference for New York, winning both of his starts while limiting the Grays’ powerful lineup to one run and three hits over 14 innings (0.64 ERA). Next up for the 1961 Yankees will be the 2004 “Reverse the Curse” Red Sox, who edged the ‘96 Rangers in seven games. The '61 Yanks will be the franchise's sole representation after the '98 Bombers were eliminated from Dream Bracket 2 play by the '42 Monarchs on Wednesday.
• Full bracket and info
The simulated competition, featuring many of the greatest teams in baseball history, is being produced by Out of the Park Baseball 21, MLB‘s most realistic strategy game (PC and Mac).
• Complete Dream Bracket 2 rosters
Game 1: Yankees 9, Grays 2
The Yanks capitalized on an error and a passed ball as part of a four-run fifth inning against Smokey Joe Williams, and Mantle mashed a three-run homer off Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe in the seventh as the Bombers put the game out of reach, coasting to victory in the series opener at Yankee Stadium. Ford limited the Grays to one run and one hit over 7 1/3 innings, striking out 10 while issuing one walk.
Game 2: Grays 7, Yankees 2
Satchel Paige went the distance, holding the potent Yanks lineup to two runs and five hits -- including Maris’ sixth-inning solo homer -- while striking out six in a 117-pitch performance. The Grays’ three-run rally in the top half of that frame tipped the odds, as Gibson and Jud Wilson knocked RBI singles off Bill Stafford before George Scales greeted Hal Reniff with a run-scoring double. Four more Grays runs scored in the seventh, highlighted by Gibson’s two-run single off Bud Daley.
Game 3: Yankees 13, Grays 11
As the series shifted to Forbes Field, the Yanks barely withstood a furious ninth-inning rally. New York carried a 10-0 lead into the bottom of the sixth, having roughed up starter Bill Foster for five runs in 2 2/3 innings. Ralph Terry held the Grays to three runs over 7 2/3 frames, including Gibson’s two-run homer in the sixth, and Boyer’s second homer of the contest gave the Yanks a 13-5 lead with three outs to go. The Grays scored six runs in the ninth against Jim Coates, Art Ditmar and Luis Arroyo before Arroyo finally slammed the door, striking out Vic Harris with two men on. Berra, Moose Skowron and Johnny Blanchard also homered in the slugfest.
Game 4: Grays 5, Yankees 4
Radcliffe stroked a game-tying RBI single off Daley and Bill Evans connected for a go-ahead double facing Ditmar in the eighth as the Grays surged late to take Game 4. Rollie Sheldon limited the Grays to two runs over 5 1/3 frames, and Berra’s three-run homer highlighted a four-run sixth for the Yankees, but Oscar Owens chipped away with a run-scoring hit off Reniff in the seventh. George Britt extinguished a two-on, none-out rally in the ninth, notching the save by getting Skowron to pop out and inducing Elston Howard to hit into a game-ending double play.
Game 5: Yankees 4, Grays 0
Ford was fantastic once again, striking out six and limiting the Grays to two singles over 6 2/3 scoreless frames as he combined with Bob Turley on a three-hit shutout. The Yanks produced the only run they would need in the second inning, as Skowron doubled and scored on Howard’s single. Maris slugged a solo homer in the fourth and Berra added a two-run blast in the sixth off Williams, who permitted four runs and nine hits over 8 1/3 innings.
Game 6: Yankees 8, Grays 4
With the series back on Bronx soil, the first five batters reached base against Paige, helping the Yanks take charge with four first-inning runs. Mantle’s two-run single, a Skowron double-play ball and Howard’s RBI hit gave Stafford an early cushion to work with, as he scattered nine hits (eight singles and a Gibson double) over 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball. Boyer cracked a solo homer in the sixth and Skowron ripped a two-run single in the seventh before Blanchard chased Paige with a run-scoring double. The Grays scored their runs in the final two innings, including Harris’ two-run triple in the ninth, but Daley got Ted Page to fly out to end the series.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.