Note: due to the All-Star break, we now bring you a special “Classic” version of “And That Happened.” The following originally ran on the HardballTalk pamphlet, which was mailed to subscribers for the low monthly price of $0.49, following the games of July 11, 1952. Inflation notwithstanding, that represents 49 cents more than people are willing to pay per month for content researched and written by trained media professionals today, 64 years later.
Sorry I was out for the past few days. My family and I took the old Styline Deluxe across the country for a nice vacation. We actually made a baseball trip out of it, hitting all of the ballparks in almost all of the major league towns. We traveled from Boston, home of the Braves, now and forever, all the way out to the far reaches of St. Louis, where the Browns call home. Stops in Philadelphia to see the Athletics and Washington to see the Senators were particular highlights. Sadly, we missed Brooklyn, but we’ll have years and years to see baseball games played there. Baseball in its grand palaces like Ebbets Field, Braves Field, the Polo Grounds, and Shibe Park will always be constants. Maybe I’ll go back to Ebbets in seven or eight years once my kids have graduated high school.
Anyway, back to the grind. Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:
Pirates 6, Giants 2: The Pirates are terrible and the Giants are strong so this outcome is an anomaly of which we should pay no mind. Also an anomaly: the outcome of the Republican National Convention which just concluded in Chicago yesterday, resulting in the nomination of General Eisenhower over Senator Robert Taft. While I have the greatest respect for Ike, the idea that a deeply established scion of a political dynasty — the embodiment of establishment Republican principles that have stood for decades — could be toppled by some popular uprising, resulting in the ascendance of a politically untrained nominee is shocking. Yes, the Republican nominee may have had great success in his chosen line of work, but people casting their lot with him on the misguided notion that he can duplicate said success — which was greatly aided by others, I might add, and which was subject to very different rules and norms than does politics — in governance strains credulity. It’s as if we abdicated our tried and true political processes in the name of some sort of . . . quiz show-style television programming. It is my sincere hope that such a pattern does not repeat itself again in a presidential election and, thankfully, I am almost certain it will not.
Browns 6, Yankees 3: Tommy Byrne picks up the win, pitching the full nine innings. I realize a lot of people are calling such feats “complete games,” but making an honorific out of an act that should be taken for granted seems ridiculous to me. If the 1950s are doing anything, they’re lowering standards in America. If this continues, by the 1970s our country will be wracked with uncertainty and doubt, our economy will be gasping, our national purpose will seem dulled and we’ll be rife for the duping by some charismatic entertainer who is a political leader in name only who rises to power by making comfortable promises and providing easy and empty answers about what makes our republic truly great. None of that for me, friend. We should continue to expect excellence and hard work from people. Even our athletes. Tommy Byrne is not to be lauded for pitching nine innings. Yankees starter Bill Miller is to be condemned for only pitching four.
Phillies 4, Cardinals 3: Unlike Tommy Byrne, Robin Roberts went ten-innings. It’s not too much to ask. Roberts is a fine young man, but he’s not any more likely than any other pitcher to have a career characterized by superlatives of great health and stamina. Clearly if Roberts can do it, so too can others. And so others certainly will.
Indians 8, Athletics 7: A wild one here as the Indians scored four, the Athletics came back with seven and then the Tribe scored four more, capped by a dramatic two-run ninth where Al Rosen hit a homer and then the next batter, Larry Doby, hit an inside-the-park homer which gave them the ballgame. Like I said, wild! Not quite as wild a scene Cleveland saw last March at the “rock and roll” that nogoodnik Alan Freed caused, however, this at his so-called Moondog Coronation Ball. But the game was something to see all the same. The arc of history, thankfully, has the Cleveland Indians and their stout roster ascending, perhaps permanently, to the top of the American League while this unsavory bit of teenaged rambunctiousness is nipped in the bud and America’s youth resumes its place in its rightful role: subservient to parents, teachers and religious leaders.
Senators 2, White Sox 1: Spec Shea, “The Naugatuck Nugget,” turned in a fine performance, allowing one run over ten innings of work for Washington. While Shea has battled some injuries over the past few seasons — injuries which ended up stamping his ticket from New York to Washington — his form is still fine as can be. Indeed, he has the model delivery of the modern pitcher, likely to be emulated for years as the style for hurler of the future rather than the hurler of the past. He’s a Natural, I tell ya.
Dodgers 6, Cubs 5: An odd game due to some promotional gimmicks which accompanied the contest. The gimmicks, my sources tell me, were part of Commissioner Frick’s efforts to promote our national pastime alongside other sorts of entertainments such as motion pictures, musical compositions and things of that nature. As if the great sport of baseball needs to associate itself with those lesser amusements. As everyone knows, music and movies need baseball to burnish their images far more than the opposite. While a broadway play may adopt a baseball theme, baseball should never stoop to co-opt other forms of entertainment. As such, I do hope the promotional intern who suggested playing this game in Cinerama, with a score by popular songsmith Percy Faith and a pregame dancing performance by Donald O’Connor — no matter how entertaining it all was — was fired immediately. The day these base appeals become common before and during baseball games and the day baseball games themselves are no longer deemed to be sufficient entertainment, is the day baseball has ceded its rightful title as The National Pastime.
Braves 6, Reds 1: Warren Spahn pitched a gem, but he still only has eight wins against nine losses and may not even reach 300 innings this year. And don’t go giving me the business about his earned run average, his number of strikeouts and number of walks and things of that nature. The point of baseball is to win the game and Spahn is not winning as much as he loses. Any discussion beyond that is the provence of those new-fangled computer machines. UNIVAC? More like UNIVACuous if you ask me! My friends at the political desk tell me those eggheads are going to use that machine to compute who the next president will be. Good luck, four-eyes.
Red Sox 16, Tigers 6; Red Sox 5, Tigers 3: Hoot Evers drove in five and Vern Stephens drove in four of his own in the first game and Billy Goodman, who went 4-for-5 with three RBI, was the hero of the second. But you know who the real heroes are, don’t you? That’s right, the people canvassing neighborhoods in order to help the Republicans, my misgivings about Eisenhower notwithstanding, take over Congress this fall. Billy Goodman is a good baseball player but we need a GOOD MAN like Joseph McCarthy to chair the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations to root out the commie menace!