The 1951 World Series matched the two-time defending champion New York Yankees against the New York Giants, who had won the National League pennant in a thrilling three-game playoff with the Brooklyn Dodgers on the legendary home run by Bobby Thomson (the Shot Heard 'Round the World).
In the Series, the Yankees showed some power of their own, including Gil McDougald's grand slam home run in Game 5, at the Polo Grounds. The Yankees won the Series in six games, for their third straight title and 14th overall. This would be the last World Series for Joe DiMaggio, who retired afterward, and the first for rookies Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle.
This was the last Subway Series the Giants played in. Both teams would meet again eleven years later after the Giants relocated to San Francisco. They have not played a World Series together since. This was the first World Series announced by Bob Sheppard, who was in his first year as Yankee Stadium's public address announcer. It was also the first World Series to be televised nationwide, as coaxial cable had recently linked both coasts.
This World Series also matched up two of baseball's most colorful managers, Casey Stengel of the Yankees and Leo Durocher of the Giants.
This was the 13th appearance by the Giants in Series play, their ninth loss, and their first appearance since the 1937 World Series.
"The Commerce Comet arrives on the final voyage of the Yankee Clipper." The 1951 World Series was the first for Mickey Mantle and the final for Joe DiMaggio.
Mantle's bad luck with injuries in the Major Leagues began here. In the fifth inning of Game 2 at Yankee Stadium, Mays flied to deep right center. DiMaggio and Mantle converged on the ball, DiMaggio called Mantle off, and Mantle stutter-stepped, catching a cleat in a drain cover, and fell to the ground in a heap with a wrenched knee as DiMaggio made the catch. Mantle was done for this Series, but would come back to play many more.
New York City became the first city to host an NBA Finals and a World Series in the same calendar year.
AL New York Yankees (4) vs. NL New York Giants (2)
Monte Irvin's daring baserunning got the Giants off to a fast start in this New York – New York series. He singled in the first inning, sped to third on Whitey Lockman's RBI single, then stole home off Yankee starter Allie Reynolds. The game was still close until the sixth, when Alvin Dark's three-run homer gave pitcher Dave Koslo all the runs he'd need.
The first three batters Larry Jansen faced were Mickey Mantle, Phil Rizzuto and Gil McDougald, all of whom singled for a quick 1-0 Yankee lead. It could have been worse, but next batter Joe DiMaggio bounced into a 6-4-3 double play and Yogi Berra struck out. Irvin scored in the seventh, tagging and coming home on pinch-hitter Bill Rigney's bases-full sacrifice fly, as the Giants got within 2-1. But winning pitcher Eddie Lopat helped himself to an insurance run with an RBI single in the eighth.
The series moved to the Polo Grounds, where a five-run fifth inning was the undoing of Yankee starter Vic Raschi. A pair of errors and a Whitey Lockman three-run homer in that stanza gave Giants starter Jim Hearn a comfortable lead.
Joe DiMaggio's first home run of the Series followed a Yogi Berra single in the fifth, and Yankee pitcher Allie Reynolds avenged his Game 1 loss.
With the series square at two games apiece, the Giants pleased their Polo Grounds fans by scoring first. That was their last highlight. The Yankees turned up the power, Gil McDougald slugging a grand slam in the third, Phil Rizzuto a two-run shot in the fourth and Joe DiMaggio a two-run double in the seventh. Eddie Lopat breezed on the mound, throwing a five-hitter to put the Yanks within one win of another championship.
Playing right field in place of Mickey Mantle, Hank Bauer benefited from a tricky Yankee Stadium wind—as well as the umpire's generous call of a ball on Dave Koslo's two-strike pitch—to belt a bases-loaded triple in the sixth inning that would be the difference. Bauer also ensured that the lead held up. Trailing 4–1 in the ninth, the Giants loaded the bases with no outs. Enter reliever Bob Kuzava, acquired in June from the Washington Senators. After two sacrifice flies and the score now 4–3, pinch hitter Sal Yvars hit a sinking liner to right. The stadium crowd gasped as Bauer momentarily lost the ball in the crowd's white shirts and the shadows. But he relocated it and charged forward. Bauer, who played in nine World Series and always came through when it mattered most, slid on his knees to catch the ball inches off the ground to end the game and the 1951 World Series. Game 6 was the last baseball game ever played by Joe DiMaggio.
1951 World Series (4–2): New York Yankees (A.L.) over New York Giants (N.L.)