(Note from GV: My friend Jerry Rosenthal was an all-conference shortstop at Hofstra. He is a Brooklyn kid, Madison High, the school of RBG, and suffered on Oct. 3, 1951, as did George Hirsch and Ed Martin and other aging fans of The Brooklyn Dodgers. Jerry says he cried for two days. This week’s Bobby Thomson and Bucky Dent anniversaries sent Jerry to the keyboard to send me this message:)
By Jerry Rosenthal:
George, kudos for your fine piece, “Red Sox- Yankees: As Good As It Gets!”
I’m glad you mentioned George Hirsch’s fine article, “70 Years Later, Thomson’s Homer Still Hurts” ( Sunday, 10/3/21 edition of the Times)!
Mr. Hirsch’s vivid description of cutting his high school classes, with a few of his buddies, to see what turned out to be the greatest playoff game in baseball history, resonated with all Brooklyn Dodgers’ fans, including me!
As a minor league infielder in the Milwaukee Braves organization in the early sixties, I would often chat with my spring training hitting coach, Andy Pafko about his major league playing days, especially the two seasons he played with the Dodgers (1951-2 ).
Knowing that I was from Brooklyn, Andy told me that his two years in Brooklyn were the most enjoyable of his career! He loved playing in Ebbetts Field in front of the great Brooklyn fans.
Andy said the saddest day of his career was when the Dodgers traded him to the Braves.
He thought he would be the Dodgers’ left fielder for years to come, but that wasn’t to be. However, he had some very good years with the Braves.
My conversations with Andy usually took place after dinner. We sat on a couch in the “rec room.” He wanted to talk more about Brooklyn than Chicago!
I finally worked-up the courage to ask Andy about that fateful October day in 1951 when Thomson hit his pennant-winning homer into the lower deck of the left field stands in the Polo Grounds.
Andy said: “I played left field with the Cubs for many seasons. As a visiting player, I knew that right-handed pull hitters, who made good contact had a good chance of hitting a homer run over that short left-field wall. Well, that’s just what Bobby did!! That’s about all Andy wanted to say about that devastating day.
It’s ironic that Pafko and Thomson became teammates on the Milwaukee Braves later in their careers. They played together for four seasons with the Braves and were roommates on the road.
Just think of the conversations they must have had!
(GV: Jerry Rosenthal is a retired teacher who lives in New York.)
(FROM PETER VECSEY, long-time basketball columnist and commentator, still writing, listening, and learning. From memory, my brother just reconstructed conversations he had with two great athletes -- Don Newcombe, who pitched into the ninth inning on that fateful day, and also with Bill Sharman, better remembered as basketball player and coach, who was on the Dodgers' bench for the final game, but never did play in a major-league game. )
Peter Vecsey: Shortly before Obama was elected president, Newk and I sat for almost 4 hours at a hotel near LAX. No camera. No recorder. He said numerous people had approached him to tell his story in book or movie/doc form, but declined all overtures.
Newk was furious after the game that (Manager Charlie) Dressen had removed him. Considering all the innings he pitched down the stretch, he felt he deserved to determine the outcome. Additionally, as I recall, Newk knew Branca had not been successful against Thompson.
Bottom line: almost 60 years later, Don Newcombe remained furious.
Sharman described the thoroughly depressed, mostly silent (except for the cursing) locker room and its emotions. What stands out, he said Jackie Robinson tried to console the inconsolable Branca. That’s what I remember off the top.
10/7/2021 09:51:15 am
Okay, I have something to add to Jerry's memories. Somehow, as a Dodger fan who disdained the Giants, I knew that Bobby Thomson and Monte Irvin and a few other Giants were good guys. Not that it helped in the next torturous months.....How good a guy was Bobby Thomson? Early 2002, Ray Robinson (the writer) and I went to a service for our friend Dick Schaap at the Cathedral of St, John the Divine uptown, Bobby Thomson slipped in next to Ray and said hello (and Ray introduced us), Thomson had driven in from Watchung NJ, he said, because Dick had written some nice pieces about him....Seeing Thomson that way confirmed my feeling that if somebody had to beat "us," it was good that it was Thomson. Seventy years later, I love seeing the photo of Thomson in full athletic stride, racing through the fans to get to the clubhouse behind deep CF. Nice man. GV
10/7/2021 10:33:56 am
in 1975 i told my uncle hhmie that i meet branca and thompson at monteicello raceway.when i said i got their autographs ,you would have thought i stabbed him in the back.regards,ahron
10/7/2021 10:41:23 am
Oh, those years when it was a game. It still resonates after all those years “The Giants win the Pennant “ The Giants win the Pennant “.
Edwin W Martin Jr
10/7/2021 11:59:48 am
Dont forget 1950, the previous year—when the Phillies won the pennant on the final day—two years in a row!
10/8/2021 09:09:47 am
I recall hearing a rumor that the Giants stole the sign, but I haven't researched it. Even if Thomson knew what was coming, he still had to hit it.
10/11/2021 02:01:29 pm
I was at Teaneck, NJ high school soccer practice that day. The field was about a half mile from school on the other side of Route 4 in Central Park adjacent to the railroad tracks. It was a common short-cut home to those who lived in the West Englewood section of Teaneck.
10/15/2021 07:55:15 pm
70 years later the ersatz Dodgers beat the ersatz Giants, on a highly questionable checked swing call. “The Revenge for Bobby Thomson!”
Comments are closed.
“I don’t think people understand how Covid affects older Americans,” Mr. Caretti said with frustration. “In 2020, there was this all-in-this-together vibe, and it’s been annihilated. People just need to care about other people, man. That’s my soapbox.”
---Vic Caretti, 47, whose father recently died of Covid at 85.
---From an article by Paula Span, who covers old age for the NYT, which currently has 2646 comments, the majority criticizing the American public – and public officials – for acting as if the pandemic is “over.”
Classic wishful thinking, at a lethal level.