New York Yankees Knew What They Were Doing When They Acquired ‘Old’ John Mize

September 13, 2011   ·     ·   Jump to comments
Article Source: Bleacher Report - New York Yankees

The New York Yankees acquired the services of 36-year-old Johnny Mize on August 22, 1949 from the New York Giants for $40,000.

A career National Leaguer, Mize was batting .263/.354/.440 with 18 home runs and 62 RBIs in 106 games for the Giants.

Mize was surprised at the move, but he was pleased that he was joining a pennant contender. Little did he know, he would be an integral part of five consecutive World Championships.

Eddie Brannick, the Giants secretary, said that Mize was waived by the other seven National League teams. The big first baseman spoke to reporters after he learned of the deal.

“Since I’ve played in the National League all my life, I never thought I’d land in the American League. It’s too hard to get waived out. It looks like the Yankees are headed for the pennant, and I’m going to do all I can to help.”

The Giants, especially manager Leo Durocher, felt that Mize was finished. Durocher had benched him a few times for weak hitting.

Yankees manager Casey Stengel said he wasn’t sure how he would use Mize, since Tommy Henrich, a left-handed hitter like Mize, was the regular first baseman.

“It depends on the form the big fellow shows when he reports,” Stengel declared.

There was speculation that Henrich might be moved back to the outfield to make room for Mize. If not, Mize would be primarily a pinch hitter.

The Yankees had been seeking pitching help, but there was no one they thought could help them. They decided that bolstering the offense was the next best move.

Mize started his career with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1936. He hit 29 home runs while batting .329/.402/.577.

He led the league in home runs with 28 in 1939 and with 43 in 1940. Following the 1941 season, the Cardinals traded Mize to the Giants.

After missing 1943-45 serving in the military, Mize returned to the Giants and led the league in home runs, with 51 in 1947 and 40 in 1948. Each time, he and Ralph Kiner were tied for the home run championship.

Mize made his Yankees debut against the Detroit Tigers in Detroit, managing a single in four at-bats, but the story was that Tommy Byrne, a wild left-hander, Fred Sanford and Clarence Marshall walked 13 Tigers on the way to a 13-2 defeat.

Then, it seemed as if disaster struck.

Tommy Henrich, who was playing the outfield, crashed into the Comiskey Park wall in Chicago. He would probably miss the rest of the season.

Mize was injured when he damaged his right shoulder sliding head first into the bag in an attempt to get a put-out at first base. It was thought that he would be out indefinitely.

Mize appeared in only 13 games for the Yankees, hitting .261 with one home run and two RBIs.

In the World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers, he pinch hit for catcher Charlie Silvera in the second game but the Yankees lost to Preacher Roe, 1-0.

In the third game, Mize had a key, two out, bases loaded ninth inning pinch-hit single that put the Yankees ahead, 3-1 in a game they won, 4-1. It was the key hit in the World Series, since it gave the Yankees a two games to one lead. They beat Brooklyn in five games.

Much to Brooklyn’s chagrin, Mize was only beginning his World Series assault on their pitching.


Giants sell veteran first sacker to bombers for undisclosed sum. (1949, Aug 23). New York Times (1923-Current File), pp. 31. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/105672051?accountid=46260

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