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The Boston Globe

Sports

From the archives | April 18

Yankees embarrass Red Sox with wild comeback

Boston squanders 9-0 lead in opener

Billy Martin – a 21-year-old lad from Berkeley, Calif., who is no bigger than a bat boy – sparked a nine-run, eighth inning Yankee rally which escorted the world champions to a fantastic 15 to 10 triumph over the Red Sox before 31,822 at Fenway Park yesterday.

Appearing in his first big league game, Martin achieved some sort of baseball history. Twice, he hit safely in the eruptive eighth. His first wallop scored the first run of the inning. His second chased across the last two. Never (until that inning) had he batted in a big league ball game.

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Manager Casey Stengel – who didn’t lose his magic touch over the Winter – confessed that he almost withdrew Martin from the lineup in the eighth inning. “I gambled once,” said Stengel after the game. “The kid came through for me. So I let him hit a second time. He’s only 21. At this point, Stengel gave the Globe reporter a sly wink. “I knew the Red Sox didn’t know how to pitch to him,” he added.

Nine runs in arrears after the fourth inning, the Bronx Bombers let loose in the eighth with a message which must have been heard far beyond the neighboring villages through which Paul Revere made his famous ride 175 years ago.

Manager Joe McCarthy of the Red Sox knew the Yankees were coming. For before the riotous inning ended McCarthy equaled a big league record. He employed five pitchers in a futile effort to extinguish the unquenchable spirit of the Yankees. Only four times in the past history of baseball has a club used five pitchers in one inning.

For Casey, it was a personal triumph. Four years ago, Stengel selected Billy out of a tryout class for Casey’s Oakland club in the Pacific Coast League. He never made a better choice.

Once Martin’s two swats had aided the Yankees to a 13-10 lead, Stengel flagged in his portside meal ticket – Joe Page. The superb Yankee emergency southpaw pitcher pitched perfect ball for two rounds to preserve the advantage which Martin’s batting had aided in compiling.

What a game! Before the contest opened, the New York Times sports columnist had made an apt remark. “This is where we came in,” stated Arthur Daley. And sure enough, it was just like last year when the Yankees nipped the Sox at the wire in the final two games of the season.

Starts like rout

You couldn’t have asked for more perfect conditions. The weather was wonderful. Many of the customers were in the bleachers in their shirt sleeves. The Red Sox had walloped their way to a nine-run lead.

In the opening frame, Dom DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky, Ted Williams and Vern Stephens hit safely. Two runs resulted from these four drives and a third scored as Bobby Doerr hit the first of his three singles. Another tally was added in the second on a pair of passes and another Williams single.

The Sox routed Yankee starter Allie Reynolds in the fourth as they scored five times. It looked as if the Yankees had resigned. Pesky opened the frame with a single and Williams walked. Stephens lined a double just inside the left field foul line to score Pesky. When Zarilla singled to left to bring home Williams, Stengel started his juggling act. He brought in Eddie Sanford to relieve Reynolds.

Now, this wasn’t much relief. Ed was tagged for a single by Doerr and Billy the Kid Goodman hit a man-sized homer up among the Boston Fireman’s Band parked behind the visiting bullpen in right field.

For five innings, Mel Parnell, the premier pitcher in baseball last season, had hurled one-hit shutout ball. The only hit was a leadoff triple by Joe DiMaggio in the second. Before this frame ended, the Yankees had the sacks loaded but Parnell dug himself out of the jam. In doing so, he weakened himself for later.

Henrich started the sixth with a triple to center field. He scored as Hank Bauer beat out a hit back of second. After Joe DiMaggio popped out, Yogi Berra was hit by a pitched ball. Billie Johnson’s double Bauer and two more runs came home on Johnny Lindell’s single.

The Sox picked up one run in the seventh. It was due to the wildness of Don Johnson, who was the eventual winning pitcher because you have to go with the scoring regulations. The bases were loaded on two walks and a hit, with two out when Don walked Goodman on four pitches to give the Sox a 10-4 margin.

In the eighth, Berra began the trouble by scratching a single out of Pesky’s glove into left. Bill Johnson drew a walk and Lindell passed. Now, Billy Martin was due to make his first big league appearance at the plate. He had gotten into the game via the back door. He was the defensive replacement for Jerry Coleman, who had gone out in the sixth for a pinch hitter.

“Sure I waited a bit before letting him hit,” Stengel confessed afterwards. “But I took the chance because I figured the Sox might not know how to pitch to him.”

Well, Martin had heard about the chummy left field fence at Fenway Park. He became acquainted with it swiftly. He drove Parnell’s third serve off the wall for a double to score Berra and deposit Johnson on third base. Johnny Mize was sent up to hit for Don Johnson and he drilled a double down the right field line to score two runs.

Out goes Parnell

By now, Parnell had had enough. McCarthy began his wig-wagging to the bullpen. He brought in Walt Masterson, the refugee from the Washington Senators. Walt retired Rizzuto on a pop fly to Pesky for a second out. One out and three pitchers later, the Yankees sent six more runs across the plate. Henrich tripled to right and scored on a wild pitch. Gene Woodling walked. Joe DiMaggio singled to left.

The southpaw swinging Berra was next to bat. So McCarthy brought Earl Johnson to toss his left handed stuff at Yogi. It looked like good strategy. Yogi hit a harmless looking but twisting grounder between short and third. Pesky went over for the ball but it kept twisting away from him. Stephens eventually fielded it but he had to hurry his throw over the sprawled-out Pesky. It was off the target and Joe DiMaggio slid into second safely. This filled the bases.

By now, the Yankees were only one run behind. This time, McCarthy called on Al Papai to extinguish the flame. Papai is the elongated right-hander, whom the Sox picked up last Fall because he was a noted Yankee-beater. He may have been for the Browns but he wasn’t yesterday for the Red Sox.

Bill Johnson greeted Papai with a single to score two runs and put the Yankees ahead, 11 to 10. After Lindell walked, Martin drove in the clinchers with a line single to center. Charley Schanz finally came in to dispose of Jim Delsing and end the slaughter.

The Yankees added two more insurance tallies in the ninth off Dave Ferriss on a walk to Rizzuto, a double off the center field concrete by Joe DiMaggio and Berra’s single.

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