Over the course of his career, Hank was a member of seven World Series champion teams and after his playing days he won another championship as skipper of the Baltimore Orioles. But it was a miracle that Bauer even made the Major Leagues at all. Before his debut at the highest level, Hank served his country during World War II. Bauer wasn’t one of the idle boys who just played ball during his tenure. Attached to the Marine Corps, Bauer saw heavy combat action in the European Theatre of Operations and won numerous battlefield citations.
After his stint with Uncle Sam was completed, the war hero went back to baseball and the Yankees gave him a cup of coffee in 1948. His playing time increased in 1949 as he socked ten homeruns rotating all over the outfield. Hank made at least 20 starts at every post in the pasture. Hank saw some action in the World Series that year as the Yankees were victorious over Brooklyn. He would be a regular on the Yankees roster when they captured the World Series title the next four seasons.
Bauer had his best year for batting average in 1950 when he hit a resounding .320 during the regular season. He reached 70 RBI and 70 runs scored for the first time that year as the Yankees made quick work of the Philadelphia Whiz Kids in the World Series. Hank hit .296 in 1951 and then socked 17 homers in ’52, but in all those seasons, Hank was a fine hitter during the regular season but a no-show in postseason play. In 1951 he hit .167 in the World Series but that was a mighty mark compared to his ’52 Fall Classic batting average of .056. Despite Bauer’s weak showing in the World Series, they nevertheless copped the title each year.
Hank put his World Series woes to rest in 1953. A member of the American League All-Star team, Hank set a personal high with a .394 on-base percentage. In the ’53 World Series, Bauer finally topped the .200 batting average when he hit Brooklyn pitchers at a .261 clip. For the first time since the Yankees made Bauer a regular in their lineup, they failed to reach the World Series in 1954. Hank was named to his third straight All-Star team that season, but, surprisingly, when his power numbers spiked, his name was no longer called for the Midsummer Classic.
Bauer helped the Yankees return to the World Series in 1955 when he clubbed 20 dingers and scored a career high 97 runs. He hit a robust .429 in the World Series but the Dodgers finally had the Yankees number and beat the Bronx Bombers. The following season, 1956, Bauer’s batting average reached an all-time low but it may have been his best season. He set personal highs in both homeruns (26) and RBI (84) as New York won yet another AL pennant. Hank finally notched his first World Series homerun in the ’56 Fall Classic as the Yankees got their revenge over the Dodgers.
Bauer had two more years left with the Yankees. In 1957 he paced the American League in triples and socked a pair of homeruns in a World Series loss to the Braves. His best Fall Classic performance was right around the corner however. As a 35-year-old veteran, Hank socked four homeruns and drove in eight runs in a World Series triumph over Milwaukee. After a dozen years with the Yankees, New York shipped Hank to Kansas City after the season. The trade was made because Bauer was aging and he had a reputation for wild nightlife living. It was written that the Yankees wanted to clean up their image so they sent the brawling, heavy-drinking Bauer to the Athletics for a kid named Roger Maris. Bauer’s career was essentially over while Maris won back-to-back MVP Awards with New York.
G 1,544/R 833/H 1,424/2B 229/3B 57/HR 164/RBI 703/SB 50/BB 521/SO 638/BA .277/OBP .346/SA .439