For a couple of days and nights now, it has almost seemed like old times- the Yankees and the Dodgers – with the D train an elbow-rubbing aprlor car for ticketholders as it coursed under the Harlem River to the Stadium stop at 161st Street. But it isn’t old times – even Joe DiMaggio has a hard time getting Yankee Stadium tickets.
The Yankees vs, the Dodgers – a match that once made the city stop in its tracks on October afternoons. It was the Bronx against Brooklyn, and all other allegiances were cancelled for the duration. It was Pee Wee Reese vs. Phil Rizzuto, Don Newcombe vs. Allie Reynolds, Red Barber vs. Mel Allen. It was fans lined up outside Yankee Stadium and Ebbets Field in all-night procession by the thousands. It was a city under the seige of baseball, and anyone who wasn’t interested had a week in October to play solitaire.
It is 36 years since Mickey Owen dropped that third strike, 22 since Johnny Podres beat the Yankees for the Dodgers first Series victory, 21 since Don Larsen pitched his perfect game, and a generation sice Walter O’Malley abandoned Ebbets Field for the gold mine of Chavez Ravine.
For those of us who gave up serious consideration of baseball with the passing of the Brooklyn Dodgers, this is a week for reminiscence at best, accompanied by a massive lack of interest in the outcome.
The baseball generation brought up on the Mets doesn’t know how to hate. But to those of us for whom Ebbets Field was a second home, the Yankees – even more than the Giants – were, and remain the enemy.
For, after years of futility in the National League, when the Dodgers finally won the pennant in 1941 it was the Yankees who ened our reverie and won the Series.
It was the same in 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953 before Johnny Podres shut them out in the final game of the 1955 series. But then, the Yankees won again in 1956.
In 1941 the Dodgers were all that Brooklyn thought about, and when they won the pennant, they closed the schools, had a parade, and two million people showed up. The team promised to beat the Yankees.
But unlike the Mets, who knew how to finish miracles once begun, the Dodgers found ways to undo them. In 1941 the darkest moment came when Mickey Owen dropped the game-ending third strike and the Yankees poured four runs over in the ninth and won the game.
The Yankees won in 1947 despite heroics on the field from the Dodgers. The Yankees won again in 1949, and in1952, when we had barely recovered from Bobby Thomson’s home run of the year before – a hit that will live in infamy – it was Billy Martin (ah, for sweet revenge) who did it to us with a catch he never should have made.
The victory in 1955 was sweet, but its effect short-lived.
In 1963, when the Dodgers returnedf from Los Angeles, it was still possible to root because Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax and Johnny Podres (all Brooklyn heroes) helped destroy the Yankees.
Since then it hasn’t mattered.
ex NYT Schnurman 10/13/77