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Sport: September Habit

2 minute read

Far from the green grass of Yankee Stadium, a tourist in Rome succumbed to an old Yankee habit: psychoanalyzing the Brooklyn Dodgers. Said Joseph Paul Di-Maggio about a possible Dodger-Yankee World Series: “It has gotten so bad with them in Brooklyn that they can’t even say the word ‘Yankees.’ It’s always ‘those blankety-blank lucky Yankees’—to put it politely. I guess the only thing that can cure them is a brainwashing.”

To National Leaguers, the Dodgers seemed almost too sound, physically and mentally. In the week’s big game, they clipped the second-place Milwaukee Braves, 10-2, and picked up their eighth pennant since 1901. It had taken them just 138 games. Only once before had any team in the league won with less: in 1904 the Giants took 137 games.

In 1955 the Dodgers ran away from the league. Never headed, they took 22 out of their first 24, for a 9½-game lead. By June 11 they had gained another game; after that, their lead never dropped below ten. Even during a midseason slump (they lost twelve out of 18 in August), the margin grew because the rest of the pack, snarling and snapping at themselves, knocked each other off to push the Dodger lead to an enormous 16½.

This year the Dodgers did everything right. Their big battery, Newcombe and Campanella, accounted for 20 games and 39 home runs between them. Somehow the right man was always on the bench when needed. Pitchers Roger Craig and Don Bessent came up from the minors to take over when the rest of the staff faltered. Even Bullpen Catcher Rube Walker was able to take over for Campanella when Roy was out with a bad knee.

For all their pennants, the Dodgers have never beaten the Yankees (or anyone else) in a World Series. So the Dodgers duty is clear. Said Dodger President Walter O’Malley: “I want to beat the Yankees. We have to beat the Yankees some time or other, and this ought to be the time.”

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