I’ve been following baseball to one degree or another since the late 1970s. You would think that in 35+ years of this a guy would’ve heard of everything, but I still learn about new, crazy stuff that happened in baseball all the time. The latest thing I learned may have been the craziest: the time the Dodgers, Yankees and Giants played a three-way game.
This story comes to me via Dan Lewis, who writes a daily newsletter called “Now I Know.” “Now I Know” assembles strange but true facts and stories and delivers them to your inbox each morning. It’s free and it’s highly recommended if you have any sort of a mind for trivia, history or just plain weirdness. Dan also has written “Now I Know” books — his latest is “Now I Know More” — and that’s where this Dodgers-Yankees-Giants story comes from.
The upshot: it was in June of 1944 and the game was a benefit for the war effort. The format of the three-sided game was devised by sportswriters. Who in 1944 had not yet, as a profession, decided that looking back and blindly defending tradition was the most important thing one can do with a press credential. Nope, this was downright radical, and it worked like this:
In the top of the first, the Dodgers came to bat against the Yankees, and in the bottom of the first, the teams switched sides. Then the Dodgers came back up to the plate for the top of the second. So far, normal. But the team pitching to them now wasn’t the Yankees. It was the Giants. The two NL rivals faced off for that inning, and in the third, the Dodgers took a breather in the shared away-team dugout while the Yankees and Giants faced off. This pattern repeated twice over the next six innings.
The Giants were the team that got the dugout to themselves, as the game was played in the Polo Grounds. The Dodgers and Yankees shared the visitor’s dugout. The Dodgers beat the Yankees beat the Giants, 5-1-0, respectively.
And with that, I can say I have now heard about the weirdest game ever. Until I hear about a weirder game which, the way baseball history rolls, I’ll probably hear about in a couple of years. Maybe when Dan’s next book comes out.
(But seriously; get Dan’s book. It’s fantastic stuff).