Sometimes a picture can tell a story without the benefit of words but there are times a picture begs to have a narrative written for it. Such is the case with today's photo which features the Yankee's Yogi Berra missing a foul pop up while the inhabitants of the Red Sox dugout, the cop in the stands and the rest of the crowd in Yankee stadium watch a play they no doubt would talk about for decades.
On September 28, 1951, the early arriving crowd would settle in for an afternoon of double header baseball as right hander Allie Reynolds took to the mound for the first game to battle Ted Williams and the Red Sox. The Yankees needed a sweep of the Red Sox series to allow them to clinch the American League championship and meet the National League Champion in the fall classic. Super Chief, as Reynolds was called due to his American Indian ancestry, was just short of perfect this early fall day as he held Williams and the hard fighting Sox to no hits through the nine innings. Reynolds would be no stranger to no hitters as he had pitched one earlier that year against his former team, the Cleveland Indians as he held Bob Feller and the hard hitting Tribe to no hits in a 1-0 victory at Cleveland's municipal stadium. As he walked to the mound to pitch the all important ninth inning, Reynolds was fully aware of the moment and the history he was toying with. After being asked later in life if he was aware of the no-hitter he had going, his reply was simply "How could I help it? The scoreboard was right there!"
After getting Red Sox pinch hitter Charlie Maxwell to hit a slow roller to Jerry Coleman at second base for out number one, he proceeded to strike out Johnny Pesky on three pitches. The Red Sox last hope would stride to the plate in the person of Ted Williams who may have been the most feared hitter in the league. Williams dug into the batter's box and as Reynolds took a deep breath and fired. The Splendid Splinter swung at Reynolds offering and gut just underneath it, popping the ball straight up in the air, right behind home plate. Berra located the ball and threw away his mask in anticipation of making the final out in this historic contest but instead of catching the foul pop, he saw the ball glance off of his mitt and drop harmlessly to the turf. The Yankee stadium crowd gasped because everyone knew you did not give a hitter like Williams a second chance as he would surly make Reynolds pay for Yogi's mistake.
With the crowd refusing to sit down and their collective breath being held, Reynolds dared to throw the exact same pitch to Ted Williams, challenging the great hitter to beat him with his best pitch. The Yankee stadium crowd flinched as Williams again would swing and incredibly would hit the very same pop right behind home plate. As Berra circled under it there is no doubt his only thought was to get the horse hide into his glove and squeeze tight to seal the second no hitter of Reynolds season. History refused to repeat itself as Berra watched the ball land plant itself into his glove as the crowd went crazy. While the Yankees went on to win the second game of the double header and eventually clinch the pennant. Reynolds was the talk of the town as he became the only Yankees to ever throw two no hitters, a record that holds still to this day.
The picture I have chosen shows Berra missing the first foul pop up while the Red Sox bench and the crowd looks in astonishment. The Yankee next to Berra is Allie Reynolds who would later say he was afraid the ball was going to drift into fair territory and was ready to do what he had to do to keep that ball from hitting the ground. Looking on and ready to make a ruling is home plate umpire Cal Hubbard who is a a member of three Halls of Fame. Hubbard played in the NFL for the Packers, Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates (yes, Pirates) and is credited with inventing the linebacker position. He would then go on to earn enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame as an umpire and would be elected to the College Football Hall of Fame for his college playing career.
I hope you enjoy this photo of the day!