Trivia question: What’s the only World Series winning team with two members of the 500 HR Club? The answer is none other than the 1957 Milwaukee Braves, whose lineup featured both Hank Aaron and Eddie Mathews.
These two Hall of Famers anchored the 1950s Braves teams that won back to back pennants, never had a losing season, and electrified Milwaukee. This is little known now, but the first National League team to draw 2 million fans was the Braves, in small market Milwaukee. I recently got a DVD of footage of those Braves teams as a birthday gift, so I thought it might be fun on this off day to look at some screen caps and revisit some of the history of the 1957 team, the only World Series Champion Milwaukee has seen (yet!).
Believe it or not, on this day in 1957, the Milwaukee was tied for first place with the Cardinals. The two teams were neck and neck all year until early August, when the Braves pulled away with a 10 game winning streak which gave them an 8 game lead they never relinquished. The pennant race culminated in the game of September 23rd, when St. Louis came to County Stadium to face a Braves team with a magic number of 1. The game went into extra innings knotted at 2. The Braves blew an excellent opportunity in the bottom of the 10th when Frank Torre (brother of Joe) hit into an inning-ending 3-2-3 double play with the bases loaded. Thankfully, 6’8″ Gene Conley came on to pitch a perfect inning in relief (as an aside, note that Conley was relieving Lew Burdette, who started the game and pitched the first 10 innings), and the game went on to the bottom of the 11th, still tied at 2.
Red Schoendienst flew out to center to lead off the inning, but shortstop Johnny Logan reached first with a single. With two outs, Hank Aaron stepped up to the plate, and did this:
That swing sent the baseball over the fence in deep center, securing the walkoff win and the pennant. Aaron went on to win his only MVP that year, and hit .393 with 3 homers and a 1.200 OPS in the World Series, to lead Milwaukee to victory over New York in 7 games.
As a note to end with, I’d like to point out that in 1957, Hank Aaron hit .322/.378/.600, and Eddie Mathews hit .292/.387/.540. Right now, Ryan Braun has a .321/.398/.583 line, and Prince Fielder is batting .287/.405/.540. Milwaukee has celebrated a world championship before; it can happen again.