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Turley was signed as an amateur free agent by the St. Louis Browns in 1948. He played his first game on September 29, 1951 for the Browns and moved with them to Baltimore in 1954. He was traded to the New York Yankees after the 1954 season and played for the Yankees from 1955 to 1962. After beginning the year 1963 with the Los Angeles Angels, he finished the year, and his career, with the Boston Red Sox.
His best year was 1958, when he won 21 games and lost seven. As a result, he won the Hickok Belt as top professional athlete of the year, and the Cy Young Award as the best pitcher in Major League Baseball.
Turley started his 1958 World Series on a low note, giving up a leadoff home run and lasting just one-third of an inning as the Yankees fell behind the Milwaukee Braves 2 games to none. He finished the Series in triumph. With the Yankees one game away from elimination, Turley threw a shutout in Game Five, then picked up a 10th-inning save in Game Six. A day later in Game Seven, he relieved Don Larsen in the third inning and won his second game in three days, with 6 2/3 innings of two-hit relief. The Yankees became just the second team to recover from a 3-1 World Series deficit, and Turley was voted the World Series Most Valuable Player Award.
He wore uniform number 24 on the Browns, 33 when they moved to Baltimore as the Orioles, 19 on the Yankees, 39 on the Angels, and 29 on the Red Sox.
In 1964, Turley spent one season as pitching coach of the Red Sox before leaving baseball. Later on Turley became a Representative for Primerica Financial Services earning more than he did as a professional baseball player. (In the 1995 version of the Primerica Financial Independence Council it states that he was paid $150,000 as a professional baseball player compared to his $2,000,000 that he earned through working with Primerica). He retired from the business and gave half of his business to his son and the other half to his secretary. He now resides in his lush home located in the state of Georgia.
- Turley was mentioned in a song called "St. Louis Browns" by former Byrds bass guitar player Skip Battin. He is described as a "no-hit pitcher" who "got too surly" and who was "traded...too early".
- Magazine covers
- List of Major League Baseball strikeout champions
- List of Major League Baseball wins champions
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
- Baseball Almanac page
- Baseball Library page