Archive for August, 2013

A Joyous Night in Baseball

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

By Jeffrey Page

It was almost 8:30. I don’t remember if I had a lot of undone homework, or if my mother simply wanted to watch the second half of the Kate Smith show. In any case, she laid claim to the TV.

This was May 21, 1952, and the Dodgers were playing the Reds at Ebbets Field. I begged her to let me just watch the first inning and then the television was all hers. She agreed. Poor Ma.

Much has been written about the wonderful slow poetry of the game of baseball such as the mysterious “3.” That is, 3 strikes, 3 outs, 3 squared for the number of innings. And there’s no clock. The game ends when the game ends. Also, the distance from home plate to outfield fences are rarely the same from ballpark to ballpark. But on this particular night, the nature of the poetry of gently rhyming stanzas and regular lilting meter would give way to the anarchy of free verse. It was a night never forgotten even decades later, a night when all the suffering that Dodger fans had endured – and would endure – would vanish.

Our pitcher, Chris Van Cuyk, looked good in the top of the first inning. He struck out the Reds’ leadoff batter, got the No. 2 man to fly out, and then struck out the mighty Ted Kluszewski. Then the Dodgers came up to bat, and the inning would not be over for another hour.

Let me give you an idea of the pleasure of that game. Our third baseman, Billy Cox, grounded out. Billy always had a better glove than bat. But then Pee Wee Reese walked, and Duke Snider, our mythic centerfielder, who grew avocados in the off season, hit the ball onto Bedford Avenue. We were up 2-0. Nice.

Jackie Robinson doubled. Andy Pafko walked. George Shuba singled, scoring Jackie. Pafko was caught stealing. Gil Hodges – the sainted Gil Hodges for whom nuns prayed and who received crosses and mezuzahs in the mail when in a hitting slump – walked. We loved Gil. And Rube Walker, Van Cuyk, Cox and Reese all singled in succession. All of a sudden, we were up 3-0, 5-0, 7-0. It just kept happening. Dodgers swung and Dodgers connected.

“That’s enough,” my mother said and went to the kitchen to make herself some coffee. No matter the occasion or time of day, everything in our house was done over a pot of coffee.

In the living room, my father and I were delighted by the explosive power of our guys. With two out, still in the bottom of the first, Brooklyn sent 15 batters to the plate. This is what they did:

Walked, singled, singled, singled, singled, walked, hit by pitch, singled, walked, walked, singled, singled, hit by pitch, walked. You could look it up.

Finally, with the score 15-0 and the bases loaded, Duke Snider strode to the batter’s box. His manner was easy, his bearing proud. Whether or not there was a smile on his face I do not recall. Men laughed and children shouted as he took a couple of practice swings.

Duke struck out. Hey, the man’s entitled. By the time he retired 12 years later he had connected for 407 home runs. Later he would get a plaque in Cooperstown.

I surrendered the TV set, but the Kate Smith show was long over. The next day I would learn that the Dodgers had scored another four runs. The Reds scored 1.

If I live to 150, I will never forget the wondrousness of that 19-1 night game in May. For me it was the middle point in Dodger greatness, coming after the World Series humiliations at the hands of the Yankees in 1941, ’47, and ’49. I was too young for that.

And coming before my own sense of grievous loss when Brooklyn went down to the Yankees again in my years of ’52, ’53 and ’56. Yes, there was, finally, the World Series victory of 1955, but it came just two years before O’Malley inflicted his own brand of humiliation on his team’s fans and moved the Dodgers to Los Angeles.

There were plenty of great moments for the Dodgers, but that one game so many years ago in 1952 made us young forever.

 

Carrie’s Painting of the Week – 8/1/2013

Thursday, August 1st, 2013
130731B hay bales 10x10

Hay Bales

By Carrie Jacobson

When we left the mid-Hudson Valley six years ago, it was not a happy departure. My mother had died, my boss Mike Levine had died, my job at the Times Herald-Record had been eliminated, and we lived in a house where flooding endangered our lives.

I hadn’t realized, until today, that my memories and thoughts of the mid-Hudson were tinged and darkened by these experiences.

On the drive from Saugerties to Middletown, I found myself awed, at nearly every curve, by the incredible beauty and glory of the area. This must be the greenest time of the year, and the cool morning and soft light highlighted the depth and variety of the colors.

The road wound beside clear streams, past fields thick with corn, by farms with beautiful buildings showing the care of families over decades, over centuries. And behind it all, the mountains rose, tall and blue and strong.

I’d forgotten what a place the mid-Hudson Valley is, what beauty it holds, what history it whispers, what promises it makes. Today, I remembered it all.