Jerry Coleman & Billy Martin, Yankees Spring Training, St. Petersburg 1954
Two Men Holding The Bag
St. Petersburg, FL – March 2 – Jerry Coleman, left, and Billy Martin, hero of the New York Yankees’ 1953 World Series victory, indulge in some training camp antics as both squat on second base at today’s workout. Billy playfully plunks ball in Jerry’s mitt. Should Martin go into service Coleman is expected to take over Billy’s second base spot. (AP Wirephoto) 1954
Sure enough Billy Martin did indeed miss the entire 1954 season to serve in the military. Coleman had missed most of the previous two seasons serving in the military, flying combat missions in Korea. In 1954 Coleman played in 107 games, 79 of them at second base, but the versatile Gil McDougald was the Yankees primary second baseman for the season. The Yankees unprecedented run of five consecutive world championships came to an end even though they won 103 games. The Cleveland Indians won the 1954 American League championship with a record 111 victories.
Can you imagine today’s ballplayer’s having to interrupt their careers by having to perform military service?
Thanks to those of us who did have our careers interrupted by military service, the system changed to all volunteer in the 1970s. I’m not sure now that is a good idea, but back then I voted for it!