by Harold Friend
Casey Stengel's Brooklyn Dodgers hosted the hated New York Giants in a holiday double header on May 31, 1934. Giants' manager Bill Terry had helped to fan the flames during the winter in a New York Herald Tribune interview.
"Is Brooklyn Still in the League?"
"Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Chicago will be the teams we'll have to beat," Terry said. "I don't think the Braves will do as well as they did last year."
When asked if he feared the Dodgers, Bill Terry responded, "I was just wondering whether they were still in the league."
The Brooklyn Dodgers-New York Giants Intense Rivalry
The Brooklyn Dodgers-New York Giants rivalry was unrivaled in sports. It was intense during the 1930s despite Brooklyn being a second-division team for most of the decade, while the Giants won three pennants and one World Series.
The Holiday Doubleheader
Brooklyn was in sixth place, seven games behind the first place Cardinals, while New York trailed by only one-half game, but although New York led the second place Pirates by one-half game, the Pirates .606 winning percentage (20-13) put them ahead of the Giants' .605 (23-15).
A record Ebbets Field crowd of 40,993 paid its way in to see Brooklyn ace Van Lingle Mungo lose to Giants' lefty Bill Clark in the opener, 5-2, and then watched as Bill Terry's team took the nightcap, 8-6.
The Largest Crowd in Ebbets Field History
Ebbets Field had a seating capacity of about 34,500. There were more than 42,000 fans in the park when the first game started.
More than 7,000 sat in the aisles or stood in the runways. Dozens of Brooklyn loyalists were on perches located on the steel girders high in the stands.
About 300 young fans rushed the entrance to the bleachers at 10:30 and got in without paying before the police could stop the onslaught. Several thousand fans were simply turned away. New York Won the Day Before the Doubleheader
The teams had met for the first time in three game series at the Polo Grounds at the end of April, with the Giants sweeping. This doubleheader was the middle of a four game set.
The Giants won the first game of the series, 4-3, behind the clutch relief pitching of Dolf Luque, who took over for starter Fat Freddie Fitzsimmons in the seventh inning. It was a performance that illustrates how a relief pitcher's statistics can mislead.
Adolph Luque's Good Fortune
Trailing 4-0, Brooklyn hit three consecutive singles off Fitzsimmons to score one run and put two runners on base. Luque came in and walked pinch-hitter Hack Wilson to load the bases. Buzz Boyle singled home two runs to cut the lead to 4-3 with only one out, and then Luque walked Lonny Frey to again load the bases, but Len Koenecke fouled out and Johnny Frederick struck out. Luque allowed two runners in the eighth, and in the ninth, Brooklyn hit three line drives and all were caught.
Casey Stengel Was Not Pleased Before the Doubleheader
Casey Stengel was not pleased, but it was a long season and Brooklyn had lost regulars Joe Stripp and Tony Cuccinello to injuries, and center fielder Danny Taylor to a virus. It got so bad that when Jim Bucher, who was filling in for Cuccinello at second sprained his ankle in the fifth inning of the first game, Stengel had to put catcher Al Lopez in to play second.
The Brooklyn Dodgers Savaged the Final Game the Next Day
The next day, Brooklyn won its first game of the season from New York, 6-2. Ray Benge, who had started the first game of the series and couldn't get through the fourth inning, went the distance, allowing Bill Terry's team only two runs, but as was his style of almost always allowing more hits than innings pitched, he gave up ten safeties. Brooklyn, trailing 1-0 in the seventh inning, scored all six runs and held on for the win.
Brooklyn Players Received a New Hat
After the game, Dodgers' vice-president and treasurer Joseph Gilleaudeau bought every player a new hat. He had promised them at the beginning of the season that the players would receive one every time they beat the Giants.
By ROSCOE McGOWEN.. (1934, May 31). GIANTS TAKE TWO FROM THE DODGERS :Record Ebbets Field Crowd Sees the Terrymen Triumph by 5 to 2 and 8 to 6. PAID ATTENDANCE 40,993. New York Times (1857-Current file),25. Retrieved July 8, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 94535172).
By ROSCOE McGOWEN.. (1934, May 30). GIANTS TURN BACK DODGERS BY 4 TO 3 :Luque Halts Brooklyn Rally in Seventh With Bases Filled and Only One Out. New York Times (1857-Current file),21. Retrieved July 8, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 94534489).
By ROSCOE McGOWEN.. (1934, June 1). DODGERS FINALLY DOWN GIANTS, 6-2 :Score All Their Runs in 7th to Gain First Triumph of the Season Over Terrymen. New York Times (1857-Current file),30. Retrieved July 8, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 94535730).