Doug's Diggings: World Series brings back plenty of memoriesI’m not sure what sort of excitement the World Series will generate amongst the casual baseball fans in the Midwest, but I’m happy to see the Rangers and Giants in the fall classic.
By: Doug Stohlberg, Hudson Star-Observer
I’m not sure what sort of excitement the World Series will generate amongst the casual baseball fans in the Midwest, but I’m happy to see the Rangers and Giants in the fall classic.
Of course, we all wanted to see the Twins get there, but we again discovered that they have a mental block when it comes to the Yankees. After the Yanks swept the Twins in three straight — then they came back from a five-run deficit to defeat Texas in the first game of the ALDS — I decided the Yankees were probably the greatest team in baseball.
Then Texas rebounded and changed my opinion. Now I can only conclude that the Twins have some real issues — both on the field and mentally — when they play the Yankees.
The reason I’m excited about the Rangers and Giants is — number one — I’m a baseball fan. A close second, however, is the fact that the East Coast is shut out of the competition for one of the few times in many years.
ESPN, and every other sports “expert,” has the eastern teams tabbed as the top dogs. On top of the heap are the Yankees and Red Sox. Close behind are the Phillies and Mets. In order to throw a couple of bones to the rest of the country, they give us ink about the Cubs and Dodgers. After that, however, the rest of us are on our own!
My first exposure to a World Series came in 1957 when I was nine years old. No, I didn’t attend a game, but everyone in Hudson and the Twin Cities was excited about the Milwaukee Braves being in the series. We even got regular updates in school (all games were during the day in 1957). The St. Paul Dispatch newspaper would hold its afternoon edition until the game was over so we had the newspaper report in our house the same evening. Twin Cities’ people were excited because it was before the Twins came to town. In those days, most Minnesotans were Braves fans.
When the Braves clinched the pennant and were headed to the World Series, I remember my dad saying, “Well, it’s great that they made it, but don’t expect them to beat the Yankees.” Like today, the Yankees were the perennial power and defending champions.
I followed every game as closely as possible. The teams split in New York, and when the series moved back to Milwaukee, it looked like curtains for the Braves. New York won the third game and had a 2-1 lead with two more games in Milwaukee. The Braves, however, won game four in extra innings and game five 1-0. The teams headed back to New York with the Yanks winning game six, but Milwaukee won it all with a 5-0 win in game seven. Lew Burdette was the winning pitcher (he won three games in the series – which is quite a trick considering he didn’t start game one). There were plenty of smiles around Hudson when Milwaukee won.
Then came 1958, a disappointing year for Braves fans. Milwaukee again went to the World Series and took a 3-1 lead with the final two games scheduled in Milwaukee. The Yankees won three straight and reclaimed the title.
By now, of course, I was at an age where I expected that the World Series would be an annual event for Brave fans. In 1959 the Braves tied with the Dodgers for the pennant. Los Angeles, however, won the first two games of a best-of-three series and the season was over.
My next World Series experience came in 1965. The Twins were playing the Dodgers and I had an opportunity to attend the second game of the series at the old Met Stadium. I was a senior at Hudson high and the second game was on a Thursday during teacher’s convention. My buddy and I decided to drive over and see if we could find a way to get into the stadium. Believe it or not, they were selling standing room tickets at the gate.
It had been a very rainy morning and the ground crew members were pulling out all the stops to get the field into playing condition. By game time things were ready to go. The Twins won the contest 5-1 and took a 2-0 lead in the series before heading back to LA. The game two highlight was a sliding catch by left fielder Bob Allison. The catch is still shown during various Twins highlight shows. The other highlight was that the losing pitcher was none other than Sandy Koufax.
Unfortunately for the Twins, the Dodgers came back to win the series. LA easily won the three games on the Coast; the Twins won game six, but LA won game seven at Met Stadium 2-0.
My next up-close experience came in 1987 when the Twins played the St. Louis Cardinals. I attended game one which was highlighted by a Dan Gladden grand slam and the Twins won 10-1. The Twins also won game two, but the Cards won all three in St. Louis. The Twins, however, came home and won games six and seven for the World title.
Another memory of that first game is that I was sitting near Hudsonite Dave Holt who caught a Steve Lombardozzi home-run ball.
In 1991 I had the opportunity to attend games two and six when the Twins faced the Atlanta Braves (ironic in some sense because the Braves were my “live or die” team when they were in Milwaukee). Like four years earlier, the Twins won all four home games and lost all three road games.
In the first game I attended, the Twins won 5-2, but it was the game six that sticks most in my mind. It’s the game where Kirby Puckett hit the 11th inning home run off the Braves Charlie Leibrandt to give the Twins a 4-3 win. Many people don’t realize that Puckett also made a catch up against the left-center field fence early in the game that saved a couple of runs — otherwise the outcome would have been much different.
Game seven, although I didn’t attend, was also a classic. Jack Morris pitched 10 innings in a 1-0 Twin win for the series title.
So now comes the 2010 fall classic. Who will be the hero, who will make a critical mistake? Every World Series has its own set of memories and I expect this year will supply some more great moments. Although none of our favorites like the Twins or Brewers are in the classic, it still makes for great TV if you’re a baseball fan.