Boys of Summer and the Fall Classic

As the calendar turns from September to October, baseball fans’ thoughts turn to the World Series.  Fans in Boston, Washington, Cleveland and on the north side of Chicago, cross their fingers and hope that this will be their year.  Long-suffering fans of the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs, although their teams have clinched playoff berths, are double-crossing their fingers hoping their team reaches the World Series by safely navigating the playoff rounds.

Before 1969 there was no apprehension that a league-leading team would stub its toe in an early playoff series.  There were no playoff rounds.  The champions of the American and National Leagues met each other.  In 1953, there was little suspense over the last two months of the season.  The Brooklyn Dodgers had the National League title well in hand, repeating as champions.  The New York Yankees easily outpaced their American League foes, wrapping up their fifth consecutive pennant.  This set up the fourth Dodgers-Yankees World Series in seven years.

Herbert Hoover, an avid baseball fan, was offered a chance to attend World Series games by a New York friend with connections to both teams.  Hoover was working in Washington, but expressed hope that he might escape DC long enough ‘to do my duty towards the Dodgers.’  When Dodger President Walter O’Malley learned of Hoover’s interest, he wrote on September 4th: ‘Our ticket problems at such times are always acute, but never to the extent that we would not be able to save seats for you.’  Hoover asks for, and receives, six tickets to all games at Ebbets Field.  Not to be outdone, the Yankees treasurer assures Hoover on September 14th that he will set aside six seats for the Hoover party at Yankee Stadium.

Hoover enjoyed the Fall Classic between the Dodgers and Yankees.  The teams featured ten players who would eventually enter the Hall of Fame.  Roy Campanella, Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider and Dick Williams wore Dodger blue.  Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle, Johnny Mize, and Phil Rizzuto wore pinstripes.  The Yankees won the Series in six games.

Afterward, Hoover shared his disappointment in a letter to O’Malley, but offered that axiomatic baseball salve: ‘Our hope springs eternal; there is always next year.’

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