Gionfriddo robs DiMaggio of an extra-base hit in Game 6 of 1947 World Series

Part of the INSIDE PITCH series
Written by: Katherine Acquavella

On baseball’s biggest stage, an unlikely star stole the spotlight.

On Oct. 5, 1947, a reserve Brooklyn Dodgers outfielder made one of the greatest catches in World Series history.

In the bottom of the sixth inning of Game 6 of the 1947 World Series, the New York Yankees were down 8-5 to the Dodgers. Dodgers’ manager Burt Shotton replaced left fielder Eddie Miksis with 5-foot-6 Al Gionfriddo, a defensive specialist.

With Joe Hatten on the mound for the Dodgers; Allie Clark lined out, Snuffy Stirnweiss walked, Tommy Henrich hit a foul fly ball that was caught and then Yogi Berra singled to left field, advancing Stirnweiss to second base.

In front of a crowd of 74,065 fans at Yankee Stadium, with two men on base and two outs, Yankees’ center fielder Joe DiMaggio was up to bat. The Yankee Clipper sent a blast headed toward the Dodger bullpen. Gionfriddo sprinted deep into left-center field, hoping to deprive DiMaggio of an almost certain home run.

Red Barber, the 1978 Ford C. Frick Award winner, was on the call.

“Belted. It’s a long one, deep into left center. Back goes Gionfriddo, back, back, back, back…he makes a one-handed catch in front of the bullpen! Oh, doctor!”

Gionfriddo’s catch not only got the final out of the inning but it ultimately led to the Dodgers winning Game 6, tying the series 3-3 thus forcing a seventh and deciding game.

In a rare outburst of on-field emotion, DiMaggio kicked at the dirt in the base path when Gionfriddo successfully snagged the ball.

During Old Timers Day at Yankee Stadium in 1985, DiMaggio told the New York Daily News’ Filip Bondy why he let his feelings show on the field.

“The reason I let my feelings show then was that I’d never had a Series where I’d been lucky,” DiMaggio recalled.

“Against St. Louis (in 1942) Enos Slaughter and Terry Moore made some great catches against me. That catch by Gionfriddo was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” DiMaggio said.

Although the Yankees would go on to win Game 7, Gionfriddo’s catch remains one of the most memorable moments in World Series history.

“It won the game for us,” Gionfriddo told Michael O’Keeffe of the Daily News.

“People compare it to Willie Mays’ in 1954, but he had a lot more room to make his catch. I was up against the fence. And he caught a ball hit by Vic Wertz, mine was hit by Joe DiMaggio.”

Gionfriddo’s moment in the sun was short-lived as he was sent to the Dodgers’ Montreal farm club the following season. After Game 6, he never played another major league game.

DiMaggio, on the other hand, won three more World Series championships after the 1947 season and retired in 1951. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1955.

Gionfriddo’s catch was his ticket to the Hall of Fame. More specifically, his glove.

He donated the glove he used to make the grab to Cooperstown in 1974.

Katherine Acquavella was a public relations intern in the Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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Part of the INSIDE PITCH series