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Article:A Typical 1959 New York Yankees' Game

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by Harold Friend

Charlie Cret lived in Brooklyn his entire life. He was devastated when Walter O'Malley took his team away. All that was left for Charlie was to root against the Yankees.

The Two Dodgers' Franchises

I could never again root for my team, because my team no longer existed. Oh, Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, PeeWee Reese and company played for a team called the Dodgers, but they did not play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. They played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and that was a different franchise. I know, because as Casey Stengel, who once managed the Brooklyn Dodgers once said, "You can look it up."

A Franchise is ...

A franchise is "the right or license granted by a company to an individual or group to market its products or services in a specific territory." Unless you consider "territory" to include all of the United States, the Los Angeles franchise is not in the same territory as the Brooklyn franchise.

An Enjoyable 1959 Season

But, I must admit, despite not having my team to follow, I still enjoyed the 1959 season. The New York Yankees had beaten Brooklyn in the World Series every time the teams met, until 1955, when the Brooklyn Dodgers won their only World Championship. It is illogical, but that one World Series win over the Yankees was worth more to Brooklyn fans than their five wins over us was valued by Yankees' fans.

The Yankees Were Never in the Race

The Yankees got lucky and managed to win the 1958 World Series, but the team was getting old. In 1959, not only didn't win the pennant -- they didn't even finish second. They were never really in the race, as both the White Sox and Indians finished ahead of them.

May 1, 1959 Summarized the Yankees' Season

A game played almost 51 years ago, on May 1, 1959, was a typical Yankees game that season. I remember that my cousin and I drove to Long Beach, New York, to see the new Nathan's restaurant that had just opened. We wanted to compare it to our Nathan's in Brooklyn. We listened to the 7-8 Yankees play the first-place Indians at Cleveland.

Rocky Colavito Puts the Tribe Ahead

Cal McLish, who had once played for Brooklyn, started for the Indians against Art Ditmar. As we approached Nathan's, Mel Allen told us that a Rocky Colavito hit a pitch that was "going, going, gone," to give the Tribe a 1-0 fifth inning lead.

We surveyed the restaurant, ordered hamburgers and French fries, and returned to my cousin's 1959 Volkswagen beetle. The Indians still led, 1-0.

A Two Out Rally

We raced home to Brooklyn just in time to see Yogi Berra single home Bill Skowron, who had doubled with two outs and the bases empty in the ninth inning, to tie the game. Here we go again, we thought. But this was a different Yankees' team.

Berra was thrown out trying for second to retire the side. Indians' manager let Cal McLish bat in the ninth. Imagine any of today's manager allowing his starting pitcher lead off the bottom of ninth. Johnny Kucks held the Indians scoreless, and we went to the tenth inning.

It Seemed Like Old Times

It seemed like old times. The Yankees went ahead when center fielder Tony Kubek, who was replacing Mickey Mantle, who had a broken finger, singled home Bobby Richardson. That was all the Yankees scored. Bobby Shantz came in for Kucks, and my disappointment soon was replaced by hope and joy, which beat despair and sadness every time.

Terry Francona's Father Hit a Pinch-Hit Home Run

The Indians had Billy Martin (yes, the Billy Martin of Copacobana fame) on first and Rocky Colavito on third with two outs. Zach Monroe, who had replaced Shantz, faced pinch hitter Tito Francona (yes, Terry's daddy). Francona hit a deep fly ball into the right field stands to beat the Yankees.

It was great. The loss was the Yankees' was their six in their last seven games, but it was not only that. The mighty Yankees had now lost four of five extra inning games. Because it was 1959, my cousin and I didn't give each other the high five.

The Dodgers Won the Pennant

I watched quite a few Yankees' games that season. They finished at 79-75, so I enjoyed many Yankees' defeats, but in the end, it was a bittersweet season. The Los Angeles team and the Milwaukee Braves finished the season tied for first. Los Angeles won the best of three playoff series and faced Chicago's Go-Go Sox for the World Championship.

I watched the Series, but I had a terrible time. I knew how it must feel when the love of your life leaves you for another. Despite my messed-up emotions, there was great satisfaction knowing that the former Brooklyn Dodgers were World Champions and that their arch rival Yankees finished in third place.


Franchise Defined


By JOHN DREBINGER Special to The New York Times.(1959, May 2). Indians Down Yanks on Francona's 3-Run Pinch Homer With 2 Out in Tenth. Retrieved January 3, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 80573962).

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