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Article:The Philles-Dodgers Fight and Casey Stengel's "War Dance"

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by Harold Friend

At the beginning of Aug. 1934, the Brooklyn Dodgers were struggling to pass the Phillies for sixth place. The Phillies beat the Dodgers at Ebbets field in the first of a three-game set, and Brooklyn returned the favor the next day. The rubber-game winner would be in sole position of sixth place, but the game was significant because it illustrated the attitudes that no longer exist.

Dick Bartell's Hard Slide into Second

Lonny Frey was Brooklyn's shortstop, and Dick Bartell was his Phillies' counterpart. Earlier in the season, Bartell slid hard into Frey, attempting to break up a double play. The Dodgers' were not pleased by Bartell's actions and in this particular game, the simmering aggression was finally released.

Brooklyn Runners Went After Dick Bartell

Brooklyn base runners slid hard into second base any time Bartell had to cover second. It was easily discerned that the Dodgers' were going for the Phillies' captain. After six innings, Brooklyn was clinging to a 3-2 lead. Phillies' pitcher Sylvester Johnson had not given up a hit since the third inning, which rankled Dodgers' skipper Casey Stengel. He ordered his hitters to bunt, which forced the defensively challenged Phillies' to implode.

Joe Stripp and Buzz Boyle bunted safely, but the Phllies made three wild throws, the most critical by playing manager and catcher Jimmy Wilson, who threw wildly to first base. When the dust cleared, Brooklyn had scored three runs for a 6-2 lead.

Otto Miller Taunted Jimmy Wilson

Brooklyn coach Otto Miller taunted Wilson and challenged him to a fight after the game, as the Phillies rallied for three runs in the eighth, to make it a one run game. Brooklyn answered with a run in the bottom of the inning, but the Phillies tied the game in the top of the ninth. Al Lopez led off Brooklyn's ninth with a home run to win the game.

The Fight

As the teams walked off, Jimmy Wilson and Otto Miller confronted each other in the runway leading to the locker rooms. The two really went at it, exchanging blows until cooler heads prevailed. Neither player was hurt, as is usually the case with baseball fights. but the bad feelings between the teams persisted.

Bartell Was Beaned

A little more than a week later, Brooklyn visited Philadelphia. In the third inning, Brooklyn knuckleballer Dutch Leonard hit Dick Bartell in the back of the head. Bartell was knocked out. He went to the dugout for treatment and continued. The Phillies, aware that knuckle ball pitchers didn't know where the ball was going, didn't think that Leonard threw at Bartell.

Wilson's Explanation

Brooklyn won, 5-3, and after the game, Jimmy Wilson addressed the fight with Otto Miller. "I criticized Miller for his manner of sending youngsters like Frey down to second base. I told him it would result only in injury to them."

Philadelphia Pay Back

The next day, Philadelphia enjoyed pay back. Brooklyn scored the go-ahead run in the ninth inning off Phillies' pitcher Chief Euel Moore, a right handed Chickasaw from Tishomingo, Oklahoma, to lead 5-4. Brooklyn loaded the bases on a single and two safe bunts. Sam Leslie singled to put Brooklyn ahead, but not for good.

Casey Stengel's Dance

Casey Stengel might have helped Brooklyn's rally. When Phillies' pitcher Chief Euel Moore entered the game, Casey Stengel, it was written in the New York Times, "...created considerable merriment and annoyed Chief Moore no little during the fifth and ninth innings by doing his own interpretation of an Indian war dance up and down the third base coaching box."

It was a different game and a very different society in 1934. Fighting was more accepted than today, the players didn't all belong to the same union, bench-jockeying was part of the game, and almost anything that would help win was accepted, Actions that are unacceptable today were viewed differently, especially in the context of trying to upset an opponent in order to throw him off his game.

Jimmy Wilson's Winning Strategy

In the bottom of the ninth, nemesis Dick Bartell singled to right and moved to second on Lou Chiozza's single. The runners moved to second and third on a Johnny Babich wild pitch. Andy HIgh walked to load the bases and left-handed hitter Johnny Moore was announced as a pinch-hitter for the recently acquired Hack Wilson, who hit from the right side.

Casey Stengel countered by bringing in left-hander Watty Clark, which prompted Jimmy Wilson to send himself in to hit for Moore. Clark made a wild pitch, which scored Bartell with the tying run, and with the infield in, Wilson hit a ground ball that managed to get through for the game-winning hit.

References:

By ROSCOE McGOWEN.. (1934, August 3). DODGERS TRIUMPH ON LOPEZ'S HOMER :Drive in Ninth Stops Phils, 8-7, and Moves Brooklyn Into Sixth Place. FIST FIGHT AFTER GAME Manager Wilson and Coach Miller Battle as Climax to a Long Ill-Feeling. . New York Times (1857-Current file),21. Retrieved July 13, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 95053209).

By ROSCOE McGOWEN.Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. (1934, August 11). LEONARD, DODGERS, SUBDUES PHILS, 5-3. New York Times (1857-Current file),8. Retrieved July 13, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 95490622).

By ROSCOE McGOWEN.Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. (1934, August 12). DODGERS DEFEATED BY PHILS IN NINTH :Two Wild Pitches and Pinch Single by Manager Wilson Down Brooklyn, 6 to 5 . New York Times (1857-Current file),S4. Retrieved July 13, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 95053945).


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