Bob Turley, 82; helped Yankees win ’58 Series

Bob Turley pitched briefly for the Red Sox.
United Press International/File
Bob Turley pitched briefly for the Red Sox.

NEW YORK — Bob Turley, a Cy Young-winning pitcher whose blazing fastball bore in on baffled hitters and lifted the New York Yankees to a come-from-behind victory over the Milwaukee Braves in the 1958 World Series, died in ­Atlanta on Saturday. He was 82.

Mr. Turley, who lived in Alpharetta, Ga., died in hospice care at Lenbrook, a retirement community in Atlanta. The cause was liver cancer, his son, Terry, told The Baltimore Sun.

Mr. Turley played briefly for the Boston Red Sox at the end of his career and also worked as a pitching coach.


But on a Casey Stengel Yankees team loaded with legends — including Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berr— Mr. Turley was a mainstay of a pitching staff led by Whitey Ford and Don Larsen, whose perfect game in the 1956 World Series symbolized a golden era of Yankee dominion.

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They called him ‘‘Bullet Bob,’’ and if any proof were needed beyond the 1,265 strikeouts and 101 wins he racked up in 12 seasons in the American League, it was provided early in his career by a Du Mont cathode-ray oscilloscope, whose photoelectric eye clocked his fastball at 94 to 98 miles per hour.

He pitched with practically no windup and had a remarkably smooth delivery for his 6-foot-2, 215-pound frame. He had a curve, a slider, and a change-up, but the fastball was his magic.

To a batter’s naked, unflinching eye, it was an intimidating marvel to behold.

‘‘Man!’’ Roy Campanella, the Brooklyn Dodgers’ catcher, exclaimed after Mr. Turley struck him out three times in a 1956 game. ‘‘When you see me take three swings at three fastballs and not even foul tip one, the fellow throwing ‘em must have something. Maybe he was using a little gun to fire that ball up there.’’


Mr. Turley played eight years with the Yankees, from 1955 to 1962, winning three World ­Series rings and building a win-loss record of 82-52, with 58 complete games, 909 strikeouts, and an earned run average of 3.64.

But his best year by far was 1958, when he won a league-leading 21 games with only seven losses, including 19 complete games and six shutouts, while striking out 168 and compiling a 2.97 ERA. And all that was just the season’s prelude to a World Series that baseball fans still talk about as one of the greatest comebacks ever.

To set the stage: The Milwaukee Braves were the defending world champions, having beaten the Yanks in the 1957 Series. The Yankees, winners of seven of the previous 11 World Series, were burning for revenge. But besides Lew Burdette, the Braves had Warren Spahn on the mound and sluggers Henry Aaron, Eddie Mathews, and Joe Adcock.

After four games, New York trailed three games to one, and the Yankee prospects looked bleak. Only the 1925 Pittsburgh Pirates had come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a seven-game Series. With the Yankees just one game from elimination, Mr. Turley went to work. He threw a shutout in Game Five, picked up a 10th-inning save in Game Six, and won his second in three days in Game Seven, giving up only two hits in 6 innings of shutout relief.

The Yankees gave Mr. Turley a $7,000 raise, increasing his 1959 pay to $32,000.


Robert Lee Turley was born on Sept. 19, 1930, in Troy, Ill., and grew up in East St. Louis, Ill. The St. Louis Browns’ scouts spotted him and he was signed in 1948. He played only one big-league game with the Browns in 1951 before going into the Army.

He rejoined the team in 1954, when it moved east and became the Baltimore Orioles.

The Yankees acquired Mr. Turley and Larsen from Baltimore in a celebrated trade.

He was traded to the Los Angeles Angels after the 1962 season, then ended his playing career with the Angels and the Red Sox in 1963. He was a pitching coach for the Red Sox in 1964 before leaving baseball.