The same could not be said about the lineup Yankees manager Casey Stengel put out. The two time defending World Series Champions were awaiting the winner of the three game playoff between the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants to see who they would be playing in this year's fall classic. Casey refused to rest his regulars, instead starting a lineup that featured five future Hall of Famers. Mickey Mantle led off in RF, followed by SS Phil Rizzuto. Then it was LF Hank Bauer, who would be an All Star from the years of 1952-1954. Joe DiMaggio would bat cleanup in CF, followed by 1B Johnny Mize. C Yogi Berra batted 6th, followed by 3B Bobby Brown, 2B Jerry Coleman and the pitcher Spec Shea.
This game seemed like a mismatch, one that Hisner- though probably happy he was finally pitching in a MLB game- could have felt overwhelmed. The Red Sox started out their half of the first inning with a single and a walk. A double play ended the threat. The Yankees came up in the bottom of the first and after Hisner struck Mantle out, he gave up a single to Rizzuto. After Bauer was retired, Joe D came up and laced a single to LF. He got Mize out to end the threat. The following Yankees inning saw them score a run on singles by Berra and Brown and a sacrifice fly by Coleman. He did strike out Mantle once again to end the frame.
The Yankees started off their 3rd with a single by Rizzuto and after Bauer grounded into a fielders choice, Hisner walked DiMaggio. Mize would get an infield hit to load the bases for Berra, who singled to score Bauer and DiMaggio. The Yankees had themselves a 3-0 lead. DiMaggio would be removed from the game after the inning.
What stood out about the DiMaggio at bat was the fact it was his last in a regular season game. His first inning hit was also his last in the regular season (Joe D was 6-23 with a HR and 5 RBI in the 6 game World Series). Harley Hisner was the last regular season pitcher to face Joe DiMaggio. Perhaps DiMaggio leaving the game after the 3rd inning was luck for Hisner. The very next inning, the Yankees loaded the bases with one out. Up came Archie Wilson, the OF who came in to replace DiMaggio. Wilson would hit into a double play to end the threat.
The 5th inning would result in Hisner getting three fly ball outs from Mize, Berra and Brown. On the other side, it was Shea really having no trouble with this weak Red Sox lineup. Shea would leave the game after 5 scoreless innings, giving way to late season acquisition Johnny Sain. Hisner, himself would get through the 6th inning with the help of another double play before exiting the game. Hisner's line was 6 innings pitched, three runs, 7 hits, 4 walks and three Ks. Two of his Ks were in Mantle's first two at bats. RHP Harry Taylor, who would pitch in just another two MLB games himself, threw two scoreless innings to keep the Yankees off the board. Sain threw 4 scoreless for the save as the Yankees won the game 3-0.
Over the course of Hisner's 7 seasons in the minor leagues, he finished with a 53-59 record and a 4.39 ERA in 181 games and just under 900 innings. He spent up through the 1952 season in the Red Sox organization, finishing 1952 with the unaffiliated San Digo Padres. His last season was in B League ball, pitching for Wichita Falls of the Big State League. They were an affiliate of the Milwaukee Braves, a team that had just moved west from Boston.
Harley Hisner was a major part of two Championship teams, the 1948 Scranton Red Sox and the 1953 Wichita Falls Spudders. In spite of winning 14 games in 1953, he got no calls from any teams after the season and retired from baseball at the young age of 26. How many pitchers pitched in just one game against a lineup consisting of five future Hall of Famers? Probably not that many, if any. For a man who pitched just one game, he sure did have a lot of memories from it. He struck out Mickey Mantle twice and was the last regular season and American League pitcher to ever face Joe DiMaggio.
Hisner spent over the next 60 years outside of baseball, but the memories of that one day led to many stories he had to tell. Johnny Sain was a very good pitcher in his own right, despite his best days in Boston being behind him. Johnny Mize was one of the best power hitters of his generation, with his career starting the same year as Joe D, in 1936. On a side note, Wilson, who came in the game to replace DiMaggio, was traded the next season along with Shea and OF Jackie Jensen, to the Red Sox as part of the deal for Irv Noren. Jensen was looked at as an extremely talented offensive player and thought was now incredible it would be to have an OF of Joe D, Mantle and Jensen. However, it only happen in 9 games of that season, the last being at the end of April. In fact, in spite of having Mantle and Jensen, the Yankees who played the most in the OF outside of DiMaggio were Gene Woodling and Bauer.
Hisner returned to the Red Sox in 2012 in what was the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park. I'm sure he had a couple stories on what he used to K Mantle twice and whether he pitched around DiMaggio in that last at bat. Rest in peace.