During the 1950s, the Yankees had a major league farm team named the Kansas City Athletics. Larry Levensen is a Giants’ fan who resented the Yankees because he knew that it was almost impossible to beat both the Yankees and their Kansas City farm team.
“I Will Probably Die Waiting for a World Championship“
I was only four years old when the Giants won the 1954 World Series. Most four-year-olds are too young to appreciate it when their team becomes the World Champions, which was true for me. I have never seen my team win the World Series. I will probably die waiting for a World Championship, but that’s not true for Yankees’ fans.
Two Reasons the Yankees Won
The Yankees won for two reasons. First, they tried to buy what they needed. Second, if they couldn’t do that, they took advantage of teams that needed money by trading financially challenged teams players with low salaries for high-priced stars. This brings us to Arnold Johnson.
Arnold Johnson and Roger Maris
I really hate Arnold Johnson almost as much as I hate the Yankees, even though Johnson has been dead since 1960, the year Kansas City “traded” Roger Maris for old Hank Bauer. Johnson’s conflict of interest makes Tim Donaghy seem like an honest man.
Arnold Johnson Purchased Yankee Stadium
Arnold Johnson bought Yankee Stadium in 1953. He also bought Blues Stadium in Kansas City, which was just the beginning. The Kansas City Blues were the Yankees’ top minor league team.
Johnson owned two ball parks but he didn’t have his own team. Just as today, there were teams that couldn’t compete with the Yankees, Dodgers, Indians and Red Sox during the 1950s. One of those teams was the Philadelphia Athletics. Johnson bought them and moved them to the great city of Kansas City.
Many people screamed, some out loud. How could one individual own a team in Kansas City and also be the Yankees’ landlord? The conflict of interest was too obvious.
Johnson Was Forced to Sell Yankee Stadium
Johnson sold Yankee Stadium back to the Yankees and he sold Blues Stadium to Kansas City, but he had no intention of keeping the team in Kansas City. His lease contained a three-year escape clause. If the Athletics didn’t draw at least one million fans, Johnson could break the lease. The Athletics eventually moved to Oakland.
In 1953, Lou Perini had moved the Boston Braves to Milwaukee and made a fortune. In 1954, Bill Veeck, who was one of the great people in sports, had no money and had to sell his team, the St. Louis Browns, to a group of rich men, who moved the Brownies to Baltimore.
Walter O’Malley Stole My Giants
All the moving around gave Brooklyn’s Walter O’Malley, whom I hate as much as the Yankees, an idea. O’Malley not only took the Dodgers to Los Angeles — he also stole my team.
Horace Stoneham, who owned my team and who couldn’t handle alcohol, was seduced into going along with O’Malley after the 1957 season. Now I couldn’t watch my team. I eventually moved to San Francisco.
The Kansas City to New York Express
Kansas City provided the Yankees with the players they needed. In the five seasons that Johnson was in charge, the teams made 16 trades or transactions, involving 56 players. Some players, like Ralph Terry, went from New York to Kansas City, and then from Kansas City to New York.
Arnold Johnson Allowed the Yankees to Win the 1962 World Series
In 1962, we had a chance to win the World Series. The Giants were the best team in baseball. As Casey Stengel used to say, “You could look it up.”
Willie was better than Mickey, McCovey and Cepeda destroyed Skowron, Davenport was a Clete Boyer who could, hit, and Sanford, O’Dell, Pierce, and Marichal were better than Ford, Stafford, and Terry.
But the Yankees had the luck.
Ralph Terry and Roger Maris Beat the Giants
Ralph Terry, who developed in Kansas City and won in New York, started the seventh game against Jack Sanford. He shut us out because the Yankees were lucky.
The Yankees loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth inning and scored their only run on a double play ball. On a double play ball. Bases loaded, no outs, and we hold them to one run. And that run won the World Series.
The Lucky Yankees
Tommy Tresh robbed McCovey of a triple leading off the bottom of the fifth, and then, with Matty Alou on third and Willie on second in the ninth, Ralph Houk decided to face McCovey with two outs.
Man, was I glad. Willie hit the first pitch down the right field foul line. I knew it was foul immediately, but Willie was on Terry.
McCovey hit the next pitch harder than anyone ever hit a ball, but it went almost right to Bobby Richardson, who would have been killed if he didn’t catch it. It was hit harder than any of those shots that Mantle hit that almost left Yankee Stadium, but it was a low line drive, not a towering fly ball. Now I know why Bobby Richardson is so religious.
Zullo, Allan and Bruce Nash. Baseball Hall of Shame 2. New York:Pocket Books. 1986