Photograph Courtesy of Phoenix Public Library
1951 brought many changes to Phoenix Municipal Stadium. The New York Giants had left Phoenix behind for St. Petersburg while the Yankees left St. Petersburg behind for Phoenix (Note that all of the Yankees players are wearing cowboy hats in their team picture here in Phoenix. The bizarre swap of New York teams meant that Phoenix would miss out on seeing a new rookie superstar named Willie Mays and a National League Championship season by the Giants. What they would get in return, was one of Joe DiMaggio's final seasons and a look at the future American League MVP of 1951… Yogi Berra (27 HRs, .294). Berra and DiMaggio and Phil Rizzuto would bring a World Championship season in 1951… as ironically… they would beat the Giants in the World Series. As New York celebrated it's subway series, Phoenix could say they had a lot to do with these two teams reaching stardom. That change continued into the regular season as the Arizona-Texas League combined forces with the nearby Sunset League to form a huge new system called the Southwest International League, which featured many teams from Mexico. Almost all of the Az-Tex League (with the exception of the Globe Miami Browns) morphed with the Sunset League which brought in Las Vegas, El Centro, Tijuana, Mexicali and Yuma for a 10 team league. The Senators continued to play as a co-op, and brought Tony Ponce and Ed Graham with them to the new league. The two pitchers stepped up their game as they again went head to head all season for the team's wins record. This time Tony Ponce would step up and beat out Ed Graham, not only taking the season's wins lead but stealing Ed Grahams all-time wins record of 24 as Ponce posted a 25-16, 3.45 while Ed Graham went 22-13. At the plate, Richard Steinhauer had a doubly good season breaking Billy Martin's all time doubles record, slamming 57 double-baggers with 11 HRs and a .336. Lefty Lewis meanwhile took over the all time Triples record with 28 2Bs, 16 3Bs and 23 HRs (.308), beating Donald Gephart's previous record of 14. Len Noren also returned for another inspiring season with 30 2Bs, 8 HRs and a .359. In the playoffs, the Senators tried desperately to bring home Phoenix Municipal Stadium I's first championship and immediately fell victim to Mexicali who wiped them out, 4 games to 1.