Whatta week for basabool!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Whatta week for basabool!

I was too young in 1951 to really understand what had happened to the Brooklyn Dodgers when Bobby Thomson hit the "shot heard 'round the world."

But in 1962 when Larry Burright, put in at Second Base for defensive purposes, punted a grounder and allowed the Giants... again with the damned Giants!... to again beat the now Los Angeles Dodgers in the 9th inning of another playoff Game 3, I was crushed!

Then I went down to the Blossom Lounge on Garden City South's Nassau Boulevard to commiserate with proprietor and ex-Dodgers outfielder Cal Abrams, who immediately provided some much needed perspective.

Me: "JAY-sus!, what a $#%&@ game."
Cal: "Yeah? Who was playing?"

He was serious... the man involved in one of the biggest plays of the 1950 season1, had left the game in 1956 and never looked back.

I didn't feel much better about the Dodgers again tanking, but with the Cuban missile crisis less than a fortnight away, and my Senior year at Adelphi having just started, I had other things upon which to focus.

Cut to this week...

My buddy Marty2, a near contemporary at Adelphi, and I frequently talk sports, especially the "then" part when someone like Thomson or Duke Snider passes away.

We agreed that neither of us had seen any­thing like this week in baseball.

What an epic pair of simultaneous late season collapses for the Boston Red Sox3 and Atlanta (née Boston out of Milwaukee) Braves!

Never mind the '42, '51 and '62 Dodgers and the '64 Phillies4 as monumental examples of the ol' folder-oo!

Over the last month of the season, Boston and Atlanta lost, respectively, leads of nine games to Tampa Bay and 10½ games to St. Louis.

And in Brookline, Massachusetts, Jacque, wife of Red Sox manager Terry Francona5, began hiding the sharp objects in their home last night.

If you not a baseball fan, you probably haven't read this far.

But if you are, it doesn't matter for which team you root... this was three days for the ages even though all division races had been settled, and it was "only" about the Wild Card teams.

Marty and I, both with good institutional recollections of the game, have discussed this several times already, and neither of us can recall anything like it... ever!

  1. With the score 1-1 and no outs in the 9th inning, Abrams was on second base when Duke Snider singled to center. He was waved home by 3rd base coach Milt Stock, and was gunned down at the plate by Phillies center fielder Richie Ashburn. The Dodgers failed to score, and Dick Sisler's 10th inning three run homer off Don Newcombe won the pennant for the Phils. Stock was fired after the season for his decision to wave Abrams home.
  2. Marty didn't follow his Giants West in '58, and somehow shifted his allegiances to the once-detested Yankees several years after our teams migrated to California.
  3. Who my old school chum Johnny Shotwell, an upper New Englander, for 40+ years referred to as "the Red Flops."
  4. Up 6½ games with 12 to play, the Phils lost ten-straight games (the first seven played at home) and lost to the Cardinals without a playoff. It became known as "the Phold."
  5. A potential manager of the Chicago White Sox next season if he and the Red Sox part ways.


1. 1340 said...

And what a couple of "wild Card" deciders were played Tuesday night!!

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday... a baseball fan's dream even if he didn't have a team in the fight.

Props to the MLB cable network for all three evenings, and ESPN for it's Wednesday coverages... widescreen TVs with picture-in-picture capabilities ruled!

2. Marty said...

Dean: I remained a Giant fan for several years after they departed Coogan's Bluff, even listening to Les Keiter's game re-creations on radio that first year. When the two "Willies" were gone that was it for me. In the early '70s the Yankees traded for a minor league "can't miss" second baseman which intrigued me. When he started playing I enjoyed watching him so much I became a Yankee fan. Of course, it was Willie Randolph.

That's something you never told me... but I don't think the second Willie (McCovey) played in New York 'cause I remember his break-in game against the Phillies and Robin Roberts in 1959: he was 4-fror-4 with two singles and two triples, and I was wondering why the Dodgers did't have rookies like that!

Jeez, I remembere Les Keiter with his little bat and a leather pad he used to hit to recreate the sound of a ball being hit as he read the play-by-play off a ticker tape!

3. Marty said...

Remember Keiter's call on a long fly? "Back, back, back, back..."

Regarding McCovey, I know he came up in '59. But he kept me interested in the Giants after Mays. Who can forget his liner that almost knocked Richardson into right field for the final out of the '62 World Series?

I've always wondered if that bozo Chris Berman on ESPN "borrowed" his call from Keiter, who had to stretch it out while waiting for the full information from the Western Union tape. (I recall one of his "Back, back, back, back..." calls on a ball which was ultimately caught by second baseman Daryl Spencer... who never left the infield.)

The Richardson-McCovey moment was bemoaned twice, on December 22, 1962 and again January 28, 1963, in Peanuts cartoon strips by avid San Francisco fan Charles Schultz.

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