On Friday, October 3, 1947, Bill Bevens was tired as he took the mound for the
New York Yankees in the bottom of the 9th inning, but his adrenaline was
pushing him beyond his fatigue. The fourth game of the 1947 World Series was winding down
and Bevens had thrown a lot of pitches. He'd averaged a walk an inning and had run many
deep counts as the game progressed, but he still had not given up a base hit to the
Brooklyn Dodgers. No pitcher had ever thrown a no-hitter in Worlds Series
play yet here was Big Bill, with his 7 and 13 record, a half inning away from baseball
The Yankees led the game 2 to 1 as Bevens bent for the rosin bag
before facing Bruce Edwards, the Dodger's catcher, leading off the 9th.
New York had forced a run across in the 1st on an error by Pee Wee Reese and a
bases loaded walk by Harry Taylor, the Dodger's starter. Burt Shotton, the Bums
manager, replaced Taylor with Hal Gregg, who got the Brooklyns out of the inning. The
Yankees added a second run in the 4th and the home team answered with 1 in the
5th without the benefit of a hit on a pair of Bevens walks, a sacrifice, and a
ground ball. Now Bill needed three more outs to secure his spot in World Series history.
Edwards hit a high fly ball for the first out in the
Then Carl Furillo, the Reading Rifle, brought the Ebbets Field fans out of their seats by
working Bevens for his 9th walk of the game. But Big Bill stilled the 33,443
fans by getting Spider Jorgensen to weakly foul out. Bevens needed one more out.
The rival managers, Bucky Harris for the Yanks and Shotton of the
Dodgers, both knew how to milk the most out of their respective teams. Although both were
in their first year as managers with thier teams in '47, they both had been around the
game of baseball for many years. Harris had taken the Yankees to their first pennant since
1943 and Shotton had the Dodgers in the World Series for the first time since '41. Harris
badly wanted to see the Yanks go up 3 games to 1 for a commanding lead and Shotton needed
this game to square the Series at 2 apiece.
Shotton, with only 1 out to play with, started
making moves. He replaced Furillo on first with the speedy Al Gionfriddo. Then he sent the
limping Pistol Pete Reiser in to pinch hit for Dodger relief pitcher, Hugh Casey.
With Bevens working carefully to the hard hitting
Reiser, Gionfriddo stole second base. Harris had thoughts of removing his pitcher at this
point but didn't because Bevens still had the no-no intact. With the speedy Gionfriddo
representing the tying run at second base and the count 3-1 to Reiser, Bucky decided that
the injured Brooklyn slugger represented more of a threat at the plate than he would as a
runner on first.
He signaled his catcher, Yogi Berra, to have Bevens
serve up an intentional ball four to the Brooklyn hitter putting Reiser, who now
represented the winning run, on first base. This flew in the face of all baseball
strategy, but in this singular instance, it made sense. It was Bill Bevens' 10th
walk of the game.
But Shotton wasn't finished making moves. Even as
his pesky leadoff hitter, Eddie 'The Brat' Stanky, headed for the plate, Shotton was
looking over his bench. He signaled to the fleet Eddie Miksis to go in and run for Reiser
on first. Now he had two speedsters on the bases. Then he made the move that was difficult
for Brooklyn fans to understand. He called back Stanky and sent aging Harry Arthur
"Cookie" Lavagetto to pinch-hit for him. Stanky, a fiery player, slammed his bat
to the turf as he fumed past Lavagetto on his way back to the bench.
There they were Bill Bevens and Cookie Lavagetto facing each other, two
journeymen players who would never again wear a major league uniform after this World
Series. But for now, for this date with destiny, every eye in the baseball world was upon
Big Bill turned and looked Gionfriddo back into
second. Brooklyn fans screamed for a Lavagetto base hit. Sweat poured from beneath Bevens'
hat. He hitched his belt. Bent forward for the sign. Straightened. Then threw from the
Lavagetto, always a good hitter in clutch
situations, swung hard but late on a pitch that was slightly outside. The ball came off
the right-handers club on a line toward the right field wall.
At the crack of the bat the fans broke into even
Tommy Henrich's eyes went wide in right field.
Playing the right-handed pull-hitter in front of the scoreboard in
right-centerfield, he knew he would have to chase down the carom off the wall. The
ball struck high, near the center of the Gem Razorblade sign, bounding away from Henrich
who tracked it down, turned, and threw in one motion. But Old Reliable's desperation throw
would not beat the flying spikes of Eddie Miksis as he slid across home plate with the
Gone was Bill Bevens' no-hitter. Gone was the
Yankee lead in the Series. All Brooklyn celebrated. All except Eddie Stanky who sat grim
faced at the end of the Brooklyn dugout.
The rest of the Dodger players mobbed Lavagetto. From high in his catbird seat
'Red' Barber, voice of the Dodgers, called it this way: "Friends, they're killin'
Lavagetto... his own teammates... they're beatin' him to pieces and it's taking a police
escort to get Lavagetto away from the Dodgers!"
So Bill Bevens lost his bid for the 1st no
hitter in World Series History. He did, however, retain one small, unfortunate niche
in the record book. Fifty-two years later, his 10 walks are still a single-game
World Series record.
Years afterward, Lavagetto had this to
say about his famous hit: "People have asked me for years about that hit
off Bevens. To me it was like any other game. It was my last year with the
club. The previous spring they had offered me a minor league managing job but I had
turned it down because I thought I could play another season in the big leagues. I
was used mostly as a pinch-hitter that year and I did all right as a pinch-hitter. I
think I hit over .250 [.261]. So when I went up there to pinch-hit against
Bevens, it was something I had been used to doing all year. The pitch was right out
there and I got hold of it good. I ran down to first base and turned and saw the two
runs scoring and that's all there was to it."