On October 10, 1957, the Milwaukee Braves defeat the New York Yankees to win their first World Series since 1914. (They played in Boston then; the team moved to Wisconsin in 1953.) No one expected the Braves to beat the Bombers: After all, the New York team had already won the championship 21 times. Their manager, Casey Stengel, was the winningest in postseason history, and their lineup was spangled with superstars like Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle. But the Braves had outfielder Hank Aaron, who’d hit 44 home runs and batted .322 that season, and a pitching staff that included the greats Bob Buhl, Warren Spahn and Lew Burdette.
The series began in New York, where Yankee Whitey Ford pitched a five-hitter and beat the Braves 3-1. The next day, Burdette pitched a seven-hitter and won 4-2. For Game 3, the series moved to Milwaukee–an unlucky change of venue for the Braves, who watched Yankee rookie and hometown hero Tony Kubek knock two homers into the stands. The Bombers won 12-3. The Braves eked out a nerve-wracking victory the next day, when Warren Spahn blew a 4-1 lead in the ninth on a three-run Elston Howard homer. In the next inning, the Yanks–who had been just one out away from a loss–pulled ahead. But then Braves pinch-hitter Nippy Jones got hit in the foot with a pitch (ump Augie Donatello had called it a ball, but gave Jones his base when the hitter pointed out a fresh smudge of shoe polish on the baseball). Pinch-runner Felix Mantilla scored on a Johnny Logan double, tying the game, and Eddie Mathews hit a game-ending homer over the right-field fence for a 7-5 Braves victory.
Burdette and the Braves won Game 5 1-0, and the Yanks won the sixth 3-2. Because Spahn had the flu, Burdette pitched the seventh on two days’ rest, and the Braves won the game and the championship on his second shutout of the Series. (Yankee pitcher Don Larsen, who had pitched a perfect game in the World Series the previous year, didn’t even make it through the third inning.)
Burdette, the championship’s MVP, was the first pitcher since 1920 to win three complete-game victories in a World Series. (That year, Stan Covaleski did it for the Dodgers.) Throughout his career, people said that Burdette was so good because he threw illegal spitballs–he fidgeted and touched his hat and face so much on the mound that, his manager said, he could “make coffee nervous”–but no one could ever prove it. Burdette died in February 2007.