by Harold Friend
On July 29, 1951, the Brooklyn Dodgers were in the midst of a ten game winning streak. They led the second place Giants by 9 games. John Drebinger, the award winning baseball writer who started his career in 1923 with the Staten Island Advance and later joined the New York Times, wrote a fascinating column about Charlie Dressen, the manager many have held responsible for Brooklyn's demise.
Dressen Wished He Could Maneuver
Tongue in cheek, Drebinger related how boring it must have been for Dressen to be in charge of a team that went out and beat the opposition almost every day. Dressen loved to over manage. He loved to move players around, switch his batting order, use the double switch, bring in a relief pitcher or two or three, and match wits with Leo Durocher and Casey Stengel. Drebinger related how Dressen wrote in the names of his eight starting players and let them play. Dressen was going crazy on the bench. He didn't have to put on the sacrifice, he didn't have to call the hit and run, and he didn't have to make late inning defensive switches. Brooklyn kept on winning.
Brooklyn Will Win By Twenty
Drebinger wrote "And so the Dodgers roll on. Eight games in front. Nine. Ten. Soon it will be fifteen and by October it likely will be twenty. And if you peer a little closer you'll note that those Dodgers, rocketing off into space, not only are running away with the pennant but with their manager as well. What is more, he isn't enjoying the ride one bit. He'd give anything to be able to give his craft a few twists, dips and spins. But the instrument is set and there is nothing that he or anyone else can do about it!"
Take Nothing For Granted
Even the most knowledgeable, the most experienced, and the most intelligent among us often forget that it folly to predict. Dressen, much to the chagrin of Brooklyn fans, was given ample opportunities in the last seven weeks of the season to give his craft a few twists, dips, and spins, but to no avail. One can never can anything for granted. Certainly there are instances when we must take things for granted. When you put your foot on the brake pedal, you take for granted that the brakes will work, but in the deep recesses of your mind, you must always have an alternative plan if this will be the one time that they don't work.
Even the Best Are Human
Not many individuals thought that Brooklyn would not win the 1951 pennant, at least not on July 29. John Drebinger received the J.G. Taylor Spink Award from the Hall of Fame in 1973 for outstanding contributions to baseball. He was one of the greatest of all baseball writers, but he was human. He reported what he saw when he wrote about Charlie Dressen and the Brooklyn Dodgers. The conclusions he drew in his column were logical, but logic isn't always accurate.
Drebinger, John. "Sports of the Times; Pity the Poor Driver." New York Times. 29 July 1951, p.124.