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Musing with Cecil Buffington

I Was A Teenage Bum

 My Los Angeles Bums

It was September 28, 1955. The Brooklyn Dodgers were playing the New York Yankees in the World Series.

I was a 10 year-old 6th grader that had never seen a baseball game on Television. I wasn't really a Dodger or Yankee fan. Ms. Witherspoon, Ms. Ash and Ms. Boggs would bring radios to class and let us listen to the game, than give us a test on what we had heard. Usually it was simply a question like “what was the score when you left class at 3:30 pm yesterday or who were the starting pitchers?”

I always listened to the games faithfully. Most of my classmates seemed to be Yankee fans. Mickey Mantle was the name I heard most frequently mentioned by my classmates during the broadcasts.

When the Yankees jumped out to 6-5 and 4-2 wins in their first two games, it looked like a Yankee sweep was on the horizon.

Then fortunes changed . . .

September 30 - In game three a slightly balding left-hander named Johnny Podres pitched a complete game 7-hitter in an 8-3 Dodger win. This was the last game ever played in the month of September.

Johnny Podres became my instant baseball hero and would always remain one of my Dodger favorites.

Game four saw the Dodgers win 8-5 to tie the series at 2 -2.

Game five - Duke Snider hit two home runs (four in the Series) and Sandy Amoros helped the Dodgers beat the Yankees for the third straight day. Dodgers rookie Roger Craig won in his first World Series start. Bob Cerv and Yogi Berra hit Yankee homers off Craig and reliever Clem Labine.

Snider became the only player from either league with four home runs in two different Series. I think this was the game that turned me into a die-hard Dodger and implanted in me a strong desire to always root for the underdog. Duke Snider became my alternate hero to Mickey Mantle and would remain so throughout his career.

Game six - Whitey Ford held the Dodgers to four hits and a single run while striking out eight as the Yankees evened the series at 3–3. New York scored all five runs in the first inning, led by Bill Skowron's three-run blast.

Ford had been the game one winner.

I well remember that game number 7.

The Dodgers scored one run in the fourth and sixth innings on a single and sacrifice fly, both by Gil Hodges.

With runners on first and second and one out, left fielder Sandy Amaros made a dramatic game-saving catch of a deep fly ball down the left field line off the bat of Yogi Berra in the sixth inning of the game, to start a double play (as Amoros threw to Pee Wee Reese to Gil Hodges, who tagged Yankee Gil McDougald before McDougald could get back to first) and stymie possibly the Yankees' best chance of the day.

Elston Howard grounded out to Reese for the final out; the two shared the dubious record for playing in the most losing World Series (six each).

This would be the only World Series game Jackie Robinson's team played in which he did not play during his career. Don Hoak played third base in place of an injured Robinson.

For the first time in Series history, an MVP was selected—Johnny Podres (winning Games 3 and 7). He was 2–0, with two complete games and an ERA of 1.00.

I remained a Dodger fan until the 1994-95 baseball strike that wiped out the post-season play and the World Series. I have probably not watched a complete regular season game since that time. I did watch the Braves on many occasions during their hey-day of winning division titles during the 90's before that ridiclous strike.

I am not much of a baseball fan today. I would not walk across the road to watch the Dodgers or any other pro-team play.  

As a youngster I could tell you many of the starting teams for numerous teams in the American and National League. Now I probably can't tell you two players on any one team. Times change.

I haven't watched any of the 2017 World Series up to this final game tonight . . .  I think I'll force myself to watch game 7 tonight when the Dodgers take on the Astro's.  

There are many young people that enjoy professional baseball. I only wish there were some positive role models in the game for them to emulate.  Not one comes to my mind, other than local Jefferson Dragon legend Chris Beck, who has made us all proud by assending to the Chicago White Sox as a hard throwing young pitcher. 

Tonight, I think I'll pull for the Astro's just because they've never won a world series in their 56 years in baseball. 

These aren't the Dodgers I grew up loving and followed so faithfully throughout my youth.

Now the question is . . . can I stay up and watch the complete game? 

I guess we'll just have to wait and see . . . 


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