Tommy Henrich

Along with Joe DiMaggio and Charlie Keller, Henrich formed one of baseball’s most acclaimed outfields for the Yankees before and after WWII. Commissioner Landis ruled Henrich a free agent in April 1937 after he had been illegally hidden in the Indians’ farm system, and he signed with the Yankees, hitting .320 as a part-timer. He helped the team to six pennants, and although he played in only four WS because of injury and military service, he was a key figure in two of the most famous Series games. In 1941, he was the man whose third strike skipped past Mickey Owen, leading to a legendary Yankee rally. In 1949 he homered off Don Newcombe in the ninth inning of the first game to give Allie Reynolds a 1-0 victory.

An excellent fielder, Henrich lived up to his “Old Reliable” nickname with his bat, hitting 22 homers in 1938 and 31 in 1941. After the war, he had his greatest season statistically in 1948, leading the AL in triples and runs scored, and batting .308 with 25 homers and 100 RBI. But he was probably more valuable in 1949, when his consistent clutch hitting helped keep the injury-racked Yankees in the pennant race. In 115 games, he hit 24 homers, batted in 85, and scored 90. He finished sixth in the MVP voting.