After defeating the Brooklyn Dodgers on opening day, the New York Giants lost three of their next four games. Their only win came against the Dodgers at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn’s home opener.
On April 20, Johnny Antonelli, who had lost his first start as a Giant to the Philadelphia Phillies and Murray Dickson, 2-0 in a rain-shortened game, made his second start against the hapless Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates had won the series opener, 7-5, before a crowd of only 6,865 fans at the Polo Grounds.
Antonelli struggled a little as his old bugaboo, the base on balls, returned. Johnny walked six Pirates over the first three innings and was fortunate that the offensively challenged team from Pittsburgh could score only two runs.
Then in the fourth inning, with two outs and the bases clear, Leo Durocher and the Giants received a terrible scare.
Pirates’ first baseman Bob Skinner, a left-handed batter with great potential, hit a wicked line drive back to the box that struck Antonelli in the chest, just under his heart. It took Antonelli a full five minutes before he could catch his breath.
Johnny stayed in the game and retired Gail Henley to end the inning. Giants’ physician Anthony Palermo examined the Giants’ left-hander and told Durocher that Johnny was only bruised.
Following the scary incident, Antonelli found his groove. He shut out the Buccos on four hits the rest of the way as the Giants managed to score four runs for a 6-2 win they needed badly.
As a cautionary measure, the Giants sent Antonelli for x-rays, which turned out to be negative. The injury produced no long-term effects.
Antonelli made his next start in the nightcap of a twin bill against the Phillies and Murray Dickson at the Polo Grounds.
Marv Grissom had shut out the Phillies in opener of the three game series, and when the game scheduled for the following day was rained out, a double header was scheduled.
Sal Maglie shut out the Phillies in the opener, and Antonelli did even better in the second game.
The Giants’ southpaw allowed only three singles and three walks in a 5-0 complete game victory. It was the first time since 1950, when Jim Hearn, Larry Jansen, and Maglie shut out the Pirates, that the Giants’ pitching staff had hurled three consecutive shut outs.
It is highly unlikely that any pitching staff in 2011 will have three consecutive complete game whitewashes. Only a few pitchers, such as Roy Halladay, Adam Wainright, Cliff Lee, Carl Pavano (yes, you read that correctly), and Felix Hernandez pitch a few complete games.
Some of today’s teams may have three consecutive shut outs, but they will be combined shutouts.
Following the double header sweep of the Phillies, the Giants were going on western swing that wouldn’t bring them back home until May 11. Road trips in the 1950s were quite different from today.
By JOHN DREBINGER. (1954, April 21). THREE RUNS IN 8TH SEAL 6-2 VICTORY :Rally Helps Giants to Square Pirates’ Series — Antonelli Bruised by Line Drive. New York Times (1923-Current file),p. 37. Retrieved November 24, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2007). (Document ID: 84117250).
By JOSEPH M. SHEEHAN. (1954, April 26). NEW YORK TAKES TWIN BILL, 3-0, 5-0 :Extends Streak of Shutouts to 3 as Maglie Yields 5 Hits and Antonelli 3. New York Times (1923-Current file),28. Retrieved November 24, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2007). (Document ID: 83752734).