09/29/2002 6:34 pm ET
Yankees' postseason history
By Patrick Mulrenin / MLB.com
There is no disputing the fact that the New York Yankees are baseball royalty. In their 100-year existence, the Yankees have set the standard by which every sports team should be measured. Their 26 world championships are more than hockey's Montreal Canadiens (24 Stanley Cups), basketball's Boston Celtics (16 NBA championships) and football's Green Bay Packers (12 championships).
The Yankees first reached the postseason in 1921, their 19th season, clinching the American League pennant behind Babe Ruth's 59 home runs, 177 runs, 171 RBIs and .378 batting average. Unfortunately, manager Miller Huggins' troops were not able to overcome the New York Giants, who won the World Series, five games to three (the Series was a best-of-nine in 1903 and from 1919-21).
The Yankees fell to the Giants again in 1922 before beating their cross-town rivals in the 1923 World Series, the same year that Yankee Stadium opened. Huggins' team won the AL pennant in 1926 and two more World Series in 1927 and 1928. Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig led arguably one of the greatest teams in history, the famed "Murderers' Row" club, to 110 wins and a four-game Series sweep over the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1927.
Huggins died in 1929 and two years later another future Hall of Fame manager, Joe McCarthy, took the reigns. McCarthy guided the Yankees past the Chicago Cubs in the 1932 World Series as Ruth (two homers, six RBIs), Gehrig (three homers, eight RBIs, .529 batting average) and Bill Dickey (four RBIs, .437 batting average) paced the offense.
The Washington Senators (1933) and Detroit Tigers (1934 and '35) won the AL pennant before the Yankees returned to glory by closing the 1930s with four consecutive world championships. A 21-year-old rookie named Joe DiMaggio carried the torch passed from Ruth and Gehrig, becoming an instant star upon his debut in 1936. The Yankees dominated the 1930s, going 20-3 against the Giants, Cubs, and Cincinnati Reds en route to winning five World Series.
The 1940s saw the Yankees return to the World Series five more times, and they won world championships under three different managers. McCarthy skippered the 1941 and 1943 winners, while Bucky Harris won a ring in 1947 and Casey Stengel won the first of his seven world championships with the Yankees in 1949. The 1942 St. Louis Cardinals became the first National League team to defeat the Yankees in the World Series in 16 years.
Only twice in the 1950s -- in 1954 and 1959 -- did the Yankees not represent the American League in the World Series. Casey Stengel skippered his crew to the World Series crown over the Philadelphia Phillies (1950), the Giants (1951), the Brooklyn Dodgers (1952, 1953, 1956) and the Milwaukee Braves (1958). Mickey Mantle emerged as the Yankees' new star in 1951, but the team could not have been effective without Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Hank Bauer and Don Larsen, to name a few. Brooklyn beat the Yankees in 1955 to win the World Series for the first and only time.
The Yankees started the 1960s by losing to the Pirates when Bill Mazeroski hit the first Series-winning, walk-off home run in the seventh game. Stengel, then 70, was forced out as manager, but the team returned to the Fall Classic the following season in Ralph Houk's first year as skipper and defeated the Reds for their 19th world championship.
The Bronx Bombers repeated as champs in 1962 by defeating the San Francisco Giants, 1-0, in Game 7. The Los Angeles Dodgers swept the Yankees in the 1963 World Series and the Cardinals, behind Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson, won Game 7 in Yogi Berra's first season as manager in 1964.
Twelve years after their last postseason appearance, Billy Martin's Yankees won the AL pennant in 1976 when Chris Chambliss hit a walk-off homer against the Royals in Game 5 of the ALCS, but they were swept by the Reds in the World Series. Bolstered by slugger Reggie Jackson, dubbed "Mr. October," the Yanks had consecutive 100-win seasons and championships in 1977 and 1978. The Dodgers fell victim to their former New York neighbors in both seasons and for the eighth time in 10 World Series.
The rest of baseball finally began to catch up to the Yankees in the 1980s. The team made the postseason in the first two years of the decade. The Kansas City Royals won the pennant over the Yankees, who won the AL East, in the AL Championship Series. In strike-ravaged 1981, New York advanced to the World Series to face the Dodgers, but could not bring home the trophy after winning the first two games. Los Angeles won the Series in six.
The rise of the Yankees occurred in the mid-1990s. Buck Showalter had the 1994 team poised to win its first division title in 13 years, but a strike cancelled the final two months and the World Series for the first time in history. The Yankees rebounded in 1995 and were the inaugural AL Wild Card winners. Even though the Seattle Mariners eliminated them in an exciting five-game series, 1995 marked the first of eight straight years in which the Yankees advanced to postseason play. Joe Torre's team won the World Series in 1996 (the organization's first in 18 years), 1998 (with a Major League-record 114 wins), and 1999.
The Yankees picked up the 21st century right where they had left off. Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams led the Bronx crew over the Mets in five games in the 2000 Subway Series. And the Yankees appeared to have their fourth consecutive championship locked up in 2001, but the Arizona Diamondbacks rallied and stunned New York by winning Game 7 in the bottom of the ninth of one of the greatest World Series of all time.
The Yankees have won two Wild Card berths, 11 AL East division titles and 38 AL pennants. The Yankees and their fans don't just hope to play in October, they expect to reach the postseason year after year. That winning attitude is what has made them baseball's most successful franchise.
Patrick Mulrenin is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.