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50s National League Baseball AllStars
Major League Baseball in the 50s
I started following MLB in 1953 when I was nine. The Boston Braves had just moved to Milwaukee, and Braves baseball cards were in every box of Johnsons Broken Cookies. I still remember marveling at the colored picture cards of such players as Andy Pafko and Sid Gordon. Later that year, my father took me to my first baseball game at Milwaukee County Stadium which had just been built. The Pittsburg Pirates were playing and we sat in the left field bleachers. "Watch how Del Crandall holds his catcher's mitt," my dad said during the game. Dad had just bought me a catcher's mitt, mask, and shin guards because he wanted me to be a catcher.
During the remainder of the 50s, I followed the Braves religiously in the paper and on the radio by listening to Earl Gillespie game broadcasts. Occasionally I caught a game on WGN TV when the Braves played the Cubs in Chicago. When my father didn't have time to take me to games, my uncle did. In 1954 we saw the Brooklyn Dodgers and sat in the right field bleachers. "Get your glove ready, Paulie," my dad said as Duke Snider stepped up to the plate. Sure enough, a few seconds later Duke hit a ball over the fence which landed two rows below my outstretched glove. The next year, 1955, my uncle took me to see the New York Giants and Cincinnati Reds play. I vividly remember the big swing and miss of Willie Mays going after a Warren Spahn screwball. At the Reds game, I couldn't believe the huge biceps of Ted Kluzewski who played first base.
The Braves finally surpassed the Dodgers and won two National League pennants in 1957 and 1958. They even beat the New York Yankees in the 1957 World Series. Although the Braves lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1959, the team had a highly successful decade not finishing less than third from 1953 through 1959.
Milwaukee Braves 1958 Spring Training
National League All-stars of the 1950s
From my personal impressions, I would include the following players on a 1950s National League all-star team:
First Baseman: Stan Musial
Stan "the man" played for the Saint Louis Cardinals. He is a 15-time all-star and a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Stan had a career batting average of .331 and was always a tough out for Braves pitchers. Ted Kluzewski and Gil Hodges were other top-notch first basemen.
Second Baseman: Al "Red" Schoendienst
"Red" played most of his career with the Cardinals and the Braves. He is a Hall-of-Famer and 10-time all-star with a .289 career batting average. Schoendienst played a vital part in helping the Braves win the pennant in 1957 and 1958. Jackie Robinson was another outstanding second baseman.
Shortstop: Ernie Banks
Ernie played with the Chicago Cubs and is a 14-time all-star and Hall-of-Famer. Whenever I watched the Cubs play the Braves at Wrigley Field, Cubs TV announcer Jack Brickhouse would shout "Come on Ernie.", and then go delirious after Banks hit a home run. Pewee Reese was another excellent shortstop who helped the Dodgers win so many pennants.
Third Baseman: Eddie Matthews
Eddie Matthews or "The Brookfield Bomber" is a 12-time all-star and a Hall-of-Famer. Eddie and Hank Aaron were feared 3 and 4 hitters in Milwaukee's lineup. Ken Boyer of the Cardinals was also an outstanding third baseman.
Right Fielder: Hank Aaron
"Hammerin" Hank Aaron played first for the Braves in Milwaukee and then later in Atlanta after the Braves moved there. Aaron had quick wrists and was a feared hitter batting behind Eddie Matthews. He was the first to break Babe Ruth's record with 755 career home runs. In his career, Hank was an all-star 25 times and is a Hall-of-Famer. He had a career batting average of .302. Roberto Clemente of the Pittsburg Pirates was also an excellent right fielder.
Center Fielder: Willie Mays
Willie Mays, the "Say Hey" kid, played for mostly the New York and later San Francisco Giants during his career. Willie was a very exciting player who could field, steal bases, and hit for power. Who will ever forget his catch of a drive off the bat of Vic Wertz in a 1954 World Series game? Willie had 660 home runs in his career and batted .302. He is a 24-time all-star and a Hall-of-Famer. Duke Snider of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers would probably get my vote as number two all-star center fielder.
Left Fielder: Ralph Kiner
Ralph Kiner played for the Pittsburg Pirates during most of his career. He was feared as a home run hitter. In his career, he was home run leader seven times and had a .279 batting average. Kiner is a Hall-of-Famer and a six-time all-star. Del Ennis of the Philadelphia Phillies would be my second choice as best of the left fielders.
Catcher: Roy Campanella
Roy Campanella or "Campy" of the Brooklyn Dodgers was a rising star until his baseball career ended in an auto accident in 1957. During his brief career, "Campy" was an 8-time all-star and also won 3 MVPs. he is a Hall-of-Famer with a .276 career batting average. Del Crandall of the Milwaukee Braves was also an excellent catcher during the 1950s.
Pitchers: Warren Spahn, Robin Roberts, Sandy Koufax, and Don Drysdale
Warren Spahn was the ace of the Braves and he won 363 games during his long career. Spahn is a 17-time all-star and a Hall-of-Famer with a career 3.09 ERA. Robin Roberts pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies during the 50s. Robin is a Hall-of-Famer and a 7-time all-star. He won 286 games during his career. Sandy Koufax began his career with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1955 and pitched until 1966. This left-hander was intimidating with his blazing fastball and biting curve. Koufax finished his career with a 2.76 ERA and three Cy Young Awards. He is a Hall-of-Famer and a 7-time all-star. Don Drysdale paired with Sandy Koufax to give the Dodgers one of the best 1-2 starters in baseball. Drysdale started with the Dodgers in 1956 and finished his career in 1969. He also had a blazing fastball and finished three times as strikeout leader. Drysdale is a Hall-of-Famer and a 9-time all-star. He finished his career with a 3.09 ERA and a Cy Young Award.
I know I have left out some players who you would have considered as all-stars during the 1950s. Just the same, I will always remember my all-star list as the best of the players during the 50s.
50s National League Baseball All-stars
© 2011 Paul Richard Kuehn