And so it was. On the last game of the 1954 season, September 26, the Yankees’ brilliant center fielder started at short and their fiery little catcher started at third. Irv Noren, a pretty good part-time player in his career, played center. Moose Skowron, long known as a first baseman was in his rookie year and he started the game at second base, one of only two times in his career that he would play there. The immortal Lou Berberet was the starting catcher. It was his only start of the year and only his fifth appearance. The starting pitcher was Tommy Byrne, one of the most unpredictable pitchers of all time. Byrne somehow had a major league record of 85-69 with an ERA of 4.11 despite walking 6.9 batters per nine innings. He walked more batters in his career than he had strikeouts. The next year, in 1955, at the age of 35, Byrne would win 16 games for the Yankees with three shutouts and two saves.
The game, of course, was meaningless. The Yankees lost it to the Athletics, that year’s worst team who had as many losses as the Yankees had wins. Yogi had two chances at third and handled them both without a problem. Of course, there is no way of knowing how many balls whizzed right by him. Mickey Mantle had several chances and did not make an error. He had two putouts and four assists He was even a part of a double play (Byrnes to Mantle to Robinson). Skowron had six chances at second and booted one of them.
Mickey went one for two at the plate with three walks (one of them intentional) and he struck out once. The hit left him with a .300 average for the season. Yogi went 0-5 and grounded into two double plays. He finished at .307. Yogi never played third again. Mickey Mantle actually played shortstop four times in 1954, but only started there once. He logged a total of 14 innings there. He played short once in 1953 and twice in 1955. He never made an error there. But before you think this writer is doing too much to glorify the man, he also played third once in 1952 and had four chances and booted two of them. He also played second once in 1954 and had two chances with no problems.
This game occurred before I was born. But for those that attended, it must have been a sight to see.