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NEW YORK: Brooklyn Justice

3 minute read

Brooklyn Dodger fans are used to great suffering. With particular anguish, they can remember the time Hack Wilson was hit on the head by a fly ball while sassing the bleachers; the time three Dodgers tried to slide into the same base at the same time; the time Babe Herman’s pants caught fire because he forgot to douse his cigar before putting it in his pocket.

But such sorrows were-a, pleasure alongside the unnatural disaster which threatened last week. Leo (“The Lip”) Durocher, the natty and cultivated friend of the great, the famed radio guest star, the manager of the hottest Dodger team Ebbets Field has yet known—”Mr. Brooklyn” himself—was in court facing five years in jail just because he was accused of slugging a heckler.

The home-grown jury was chosen with the utmost care. One talesman was summarily rejected (by the prosecution) because he thought “no Dodger can do wrong”; another was peremptorily waved away (by the defense) because he had the temerity to admit in open court that he had never seen the Dodgers play. Headlined the New York Daily News: DUROCHER TO BE TRIED BY JURY OF HIS JEERS.

Kicks & Blackjacks. “The Lip” tightened noticeably as pudgy, Dodger-hating ex-Serviceman John Christian, 23 (a Brooklyn resident in address only), put forth his Brooklyn-shaking testimony. He said that after a night game on June 9, 1945, Durocher and Joe Moore, an Ebbets Field policeman, had beaten him with fists and a blackjack, and broken his jaw so badly that it had to be wired together. As further evidence, the Assistant D.A. said that Durocher had paid Christian $6,750 to settle out of court.

Durocher was visibly hurt. He said Christian had broken his jaw falling into a water trough. He described Christian’s heckling as inhumanly abrasive—worse than that of the gifted stentor, Ebbets Field Hilda, whose loon-like cries are supposed to carry to the Mississippi. Patiently, almost demurely, he recalled: “As we say in baseball, he had a tremendously loud voice.” On June 9, the night of the alleged beating, said Durocher, softly, Christian had ridden the Dodger pitcher, Curt Davis, into a lather:* “Davis is an elderly gentleman in the vicinity of 42 today.” Durocher explained.

The jury understood, perfectly. In 38 minutes, Leo was free. Brooklyn justice had prevailed. Actually, the .verdict had been agreed on in five minutes. But, as one juror explained: “We wanted to have a smoke. We didn’t want to rush into this thing blindly.”

* Ben Chapman & Victor Lombardi pitched for the Dodgers the night of June 9—not Davis.

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