Dodger shortstop Maury Wills was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player on November 23, 1962. Wills stole a record 104 bases during the season, leading Los Angeles to 102 victories. Unfortunately, the Dodgers fell short of the pennant in a three-game tie-breaker series against San Francisco, losing two games to one.
The 1978 World Series pitted the defending champion New York Yankees against the Los Angeles Dodgers in a rematch of the previous year’s World Series. Although the Dodgers won the first two games of the Series, the Yankees swept the next four, winning in six games to repeat as champions.
The Series featured some memorable confrontations between Dodgers rookie pitcher Bob Welch and Reggie Jackson of the Yankees. In Game 2, Welch struck Jackson out in the top of the ninth with two outs and the tying and go-ahead runs on base to end the game. In Game 4, Jackson avenged the strikeout when he singled off Welch to advance Roy White to second, allowing White to eventually score the game winning run on a Lou Piniella single. In Game 6, Jackson hit a two-run homer off Welch in the seventh inning to increase the Yankees’ lead to 7–2 and solidify the Yankees’ victory to win the Series.
The poem below was written by AP correspondent Jules Loh. In a tribute to the famous “Casey At the Bat” verse, Loh writes about Jackson’s Game 2 strikeout to Welch to end the game.
The outlook wasn’t brilliant
for the Yankees in L.A.
The score stood 4-3, two out,
one inning left to play.
But when Dent slid safe at second
and Blair got on at first
Every screaming Dodger fan had
cause to fear the worst.
For there before the multitude —
Ah destiny! Ah fate!
Reggie Jackson, mighty Reggie,
was advancing to the plate.
Reggie, whose three home runs
had won the year before,
Reggie, whose big bat tonight
fetched every Yankee score.
On the mound to face him
stood the rookie, young Bob Welch.
A kid with a red hot fastball —
Reggie’s pitch — and nothing else.
Fifty-thousand voices cheered
as Welch gripped ball in mitt.
One hundred thousand eyes watched Reggie rub his bat and spit.
“Throw your best pitch, kid, and duck,” Reggie seemed to say.
The kid just glared. He must have
known this wasn’t Reggie’s day.
His fist pitch was a blazer.
Reggie missed it clean
Fifty-thousand throats responded
with a Dodger scream.
They squared off, Reggie and the kid, each knew what he must do.
And seven fastballs later,
the count was three and two.
No shootout on a dusty street
out here in the Far West
Could match the scene:
A famous bat,
a kid put to the test.
One final pitch. The kid reared back
and let a fastball fly.
Fifty-thousand Dodger fans
gave forth one final cry…
Ah, the lights still shine on Broadway,
but there isn’t any doubt
The Big Apple has no joy left.
Mighty Reggie has struck out.
Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully received the Ford Frick Award from the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. This video does a much better job of introducing him and describing Scully’s background than I ever could do in writing, so I’ll just let you hit play and take in his speech as well as the biographical bit that follows.
Don Drysdale emphasizes the strain and sacrifices that come with the demanding schedule of a professional ballplayer — especially on the side of that ballplayer’s family. A right-handed pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers for his entire career, Drysdale won the 1962 Cy Young Award, and in 1968, he set a Major League record by pitching six consecutive shutouts and 58 2⁄3 consecutive scoreless innings. Drysdale ended his career with 209 wins, 2,486 strikeouts, 167 complete games and 49 shutouts. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984.
I came across these somewhat randomly this weekend: three songs by a group called The Paid Attendance. So far as I have been able to tell, these are the only three songs by this group, and I have only been able to find audio for two of them. That being said, I suppose it’s not really a big deal that I cannot find audio for the third, as it would likely just fall in line with the other two songs. First off, here’s “Be A Believer in Giant Fever,” released in 1978.
The group must have had a thing for New-York-teams-gone-California, because in 1979, they put one out for the Dodgers.
The third song, for which I have not been able to find audio online, appears to be the same song with a Philly twist: “Be A Believer in Philly Fever.”
I am curious as to whether the original intention was to put out a version for each team in the majors. If so, they didn’t get very far into the process. Whatever the intention, I did find the Giants and Dodgers versions fun to listen to. It’s the kind of song that makes you want to do a little jig while you brush your teeth in the morning.
Attempting to beat a 12:30 a.m. curfew on March 5, 1958, the Dodgers’ Duke Snider, Johnny Podres, and Don Zimmer sustained minor injuries in a car accident in Vero Beach, Florida. This automobile mishap was the third involving the Dodgers within the last two months, with prior crashes involving Roy Campanella and Jim Gilliam.
A few days ago, I was looking for a fun baseball movie to take in. I had heard that there was a Sandlot 2, though I didn’t know much about it. I figured it was as good a time as any to check it out, except that I ran into the tiny issue of the local public library not carrying it. I did find another movie along those lines, however: The Sandlot: Heading Home.
A sequel movie to the original Sandlot (I’m guessing this is a part three? It’s hard to tell without having seen part two), this installment features an older Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez as well as bringing back Michael “Squints” Palledorous. When the movie begins, we learn that Benny Rodriguez goes on to become manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the plot of the film actually revolves around one of his players, centerfielder Tommy “Santa” Santorelli.
Tommy Santorelli is a successful, but exceedingly arrogant, Major League ballplayer who has bounced from team to team in search of more money, more fame, and more success. During batting practice one day, Tommy gets hit in the face by a pitch, knocking him out cold. When he wakes up, he discovers that he is twelve years old again and the year is 1976. Tommy is back at the sandlot where he first started playing baseball during his childhood.
Tommy hesitates to join the sandlot team at first, unable to stop thinking of them as a bunch of kids, in spite of the fact that he is now a kid again himself. He finally does so, however, as it offers him an opportunity to get back at the town bully, EJ Needman. EJ also happens to be the son of a wealthy real estate agent who wants to buy the sandlot and develop the land for financial gain.
The sale of the sandlot is a contentious issue throughout town, with the vote split at an even fifty-fifty. The real estate agent, Earl Needman, proposes the issue be resolved by the all-city championship game, which is set to be played between Needman’s team and the sandlot team.
*Spoiler alert* (Not that the outcome of this movie would be any kind of surprise, but you know, just in case.) Of course, Needman’s proposal comes after he has already gone out of his way to speak to Tommy Santorelli, offering to put in a good word for him with a preparatory school with a good baseball program in exchange for switching teams. Tommy, thinking his entire future hinges on getting into the prep school, agrees to join Needman’s team.
The sandlot team is understandably upset by the betrayal. Before the championship game even begins, however, Tommy realizes his mistake, and he decides that the friendships he’s developed with the sandlot boys are more important than the fame and fortune his future would have held for him. He changes sides again, rejoining the sandlot team and helping them on their way to victory. After another mishap in which he gets hit in the head by yet another baseball, Tommy wakes up as an adult once again. Predictably, he’s a completely different man from the arrogant prima donna from the beginning of the film.
Overall, while this installment of the Sandlot series offers a nice twist via the time travel plot device, it remains quite formulaic. All the same, The Sandlot: Heading Home is still a fun baseball film, and heaven knows I can’t help but enjoy a decent baseball film.