How loose lips changed the 1949 American League Race
Aug 3, 2020 | By: Robert Brezinski
During World War II, U.S. troops were told to never say a word to anyone. They were reminded of this with four simple words: Loose lips sink ships. Little did anyone know that the 1949 American League pennant would be decided someone's failure to heed that warning,
After 152 games, the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox were separated by by just one game with Boston on top. The pennant would be decided in New York in a two game series. All the Red Sox had to do was win one game to clinch. Game 153 looked like it was going Bostons way.
In the bottom of the third, Phil Rizzuto was up when Boston catcher Birdie Tebbets, who gained his nickname by liking to chirp like a bird, sais "This time tomorrow, we'll be drinking champagne and we'll be using the kid from Yale", referring to pitcher Frank Quinn. After Rizzuto was retired, he went back to the dugout and told everyone what Tebbets said. That was the spark that lit the Yankees fire.
The Yankees scored two in the fourth and tow in the fifth to tie the game 4-4. Then in the bottom of the eighth, Johnny Lindell belted a home run off Joe Dobson to left to win the game 5-4. This set the stage for a winner take all game 154.
The Yankees jumped on Boston starter Ellis Kinder for a quick run in the first. It stayed that way until the bottom of the eighth, when the Yankees took advantage of Kinder's removal, striking for four runs. The highlight was rookie Jerry Coleman's three run double, making it 5-0
The Red Sox would not quit, With one out and tow on, Bobby Doerr hit a fly ball the eluded Joe DiMaggio for a two run triple. DiMaggio, weakened by a two week bout with pneumonia which caused him to lose 18 pounds, pulled himself out of the game. A tow out single scored Doerr to make it 5-3. In an ironic twist, the next batter was Birdie Tebbets. The Yankee bench rode him like a jockey.
Tebbets popped out to first for the final out to win the pennant. In another irony, the game played was on October 2nd. 29 years later to the day, these same tow teams would lock horns for another memorable game. But that's a story for another day.