Gil McDougald: WS Winner at Each Infield Position and Line Drive Tragedy

In 1951, Gil McDougald was the New York Yankees’ third baseman. The Yankees won the World Series.

In 1956, Gil McDougald was the New York Yankees’ shortstop. The Yankees won the World Series.

In 1958, Gil McDougald was the New York Yankees’ second baseman. The Yankees won the World Series.

James Gilbert McDougald was one of the most valuable and versatile players in Yankees history. For his career, he hit .276/.356/.410. McDougald was the Rookie of the Year in 1951 and was the only Yankees regular to hit at least .300.

In the 1951 World Series against the New York Giants, McDougald hit a grand slam off Larry Jansen in the pivotal fifth game to help the Yankees coast to an easy 13-1 victory.

McDougald is remembered for being involved with two line drives, one that hit him and one that he hit.

In Aug. 1955, Bob Cerv, who had almost as much power as Mickey Mantle, hit a line drive during batting practice. McDougald, who was otherwise engaged, was standing near second base when the liner struck him in the ear. It eventually cost him his hearing.

McDougald kept his deafness a secret until 1994 when he revealed it to Ira Berkow of the New York Times. A group of physicians read the article and told McDougald that a cochlear implant might restore his hearing. It did.

The other line drive was hit on May 7, 1957 in Cleveland. It struck Cleveland Indians left-hander Herb Score in the eye. Score remained on the ground for several minutes before being carried off the field.Neither Score nor McDougald was ever the same.

From 1951-56, McDougald hit .284/.369/.419, averaging 15 home runs and 77 RBIs over a 162-game season.

After the “Herb Score incident,” McDougald batted .264/.336/.394, averaging 13 home runs and 61 RBIs.

Following the 1960 season, McDougald retired at the age of 32.

Score was only 24 years old when the line drive hit him. Often, it has been said that a particular young player “is a certain Hall of Famer if he remains healthy.” Score was a certain Hall of Famer.

Score was 16-9 with a 2.85 ERA in his rookie season of 1955. He allowed a mere 158 hits in 227-and-one-third innings, had a 141 ERA+ and led the league with 245 strikeouts. He was the Rookie of the Year.

In 1956, Score won 20 games, led the league with 263 strikeouts and posted a league best 166 ERA+.

After the injury, Score was a shell of his former self. He won only 17 more games until he retired after pitching briefly in 1962 for the Chicago White Sox.

Both McDougald and Score insisted they recovered from the trauma of the line drive.

Score insisted that he had developed a sore arm on a cold rainy night in Chicago. McDougald said that once Score returned to the mound, he tried to forget the incident.It is ironic that another Yankee who played more positions that McDougald also had his career shortened when he was struck by a ball.

In the eighth inning of the seventh game of the 1960 World Series, Bill Virdon hit a hard ground ball to Yankees shortstop Tony Kubek. It appeared certain that once Kubek fielded the ball, a double play would result.

The ball struck Kubek in throat. He went down as if he had been shot. The Pittsburgh Pirates went on to score five runs to take a 9-7 lead into the ninth inning.

McDougald pinch-ran in the ninth inning and scored the game-tying run. He remained in the game at third base, but he wasn’t there long. Bill Mazeroski saw to that.

It was the last game of McDougald’s career.

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