The oddities and ironies that were so characteristic of this Series began to assert themselves in the third game, at Ebbets Field before a riotous crowd described by Red Smith, then a columnist for the Philadephia Record, as "curious creatures that are indigenous to Flatbush." For seven innings this game was a scoreless pitching duel between the Dodgers' 40-year-old "Fat Freddie" Fitzsimmons and the Yankees' Marius Russo, who was, of all things, a Brooklyn native.
In the seventh inning, the final Yankees out was anything but routine: Russo himself smacked a vicious line drive to the mound, and the ball struck Fitzsimmons just above the left knee with such force that it rebounded directly into shortstop Reese's glove without touching the ground. Fitzsimmons, who had pitched masterfully, was helped off the field. "I don't think the Yankees would have touched him the rest of the way if he'd been able to stay in there," says Camilli of Fat Freddie.
Hugh Casey, who had won 14 games that season and saved seven, came on in relief and gave up two runs on four straight hits in the eighth inning. The Dodgers scored a run in their half of the eighth, but Russo held on for a 2-1 win. All three Series games had been decided by a single run.
Despite or maybe because of their similarities in temperament, Durocher and MacPhail had an uneasy relationship. MacPhail had fired his manager numerous times during the season, usually late in an evening of serious tippling by MacPhail, only to rehire him in the clear light of morning. Casey's shoddy relief performance had given MacPhail further cause for displeasure, since he was convinced Durocher had not given the pitcher time enough to warm up properly. But the Lip, faced with another dismissal, held his ground. "There is a thin line between genius and insanity," he once remarked. "In Larry's case it's sometimes so thin you can see him drifting back and forth." Durocher expressed renewed faith in his bullpen ace.
Casey himself was a most unusual character, even for a Dodger. Supremely confident on the mound, mainly because of his dazzling curveball, he was shy and moody off the held, "two different guys in one." said the Yankees' Henrich. Casey was also a heavy drinker, a common failing among ballplayers of his day. And he was physically very tough, mean when he had to be.
Higbe started for the Dodgers in what was for them a must-win fourth game. He lasted only 3⅔ innings, giving up three runs on six hits. Casey came into the game with two outs and the bases loaded in the fifth inning, in relief of Johnny Allen. The batter was Joe Gordon, the hitting star of the Series thus far with a .625 average. The ordinarily raucous Dodgers fans held their collective breath. But Casey was equal to this occasion, inducing Gordon to fly out to end the inning. He then pitched flawlessly into the ninth as his teammates staked him to a 4-3 lead, the go-ahead run scoring on Reiser's two-run homer in the fifth.
Victory was clearly in sight as Casey retired Johnny Sturm and Red Rolfe on infield grounders in the Yankees' half of the ninth. The maligned reliever was, wrote Smith, "making a hollow mockery of the vaunted Yankee power." He worked the count to three balls and two strikes on the dangerous Henrich. Dodgers fans were on their feet howling for the final out. Casey was but "one pitch short of complete redemption for his sins," wrote Smith. Catcher Mickey Owen called for his pitcher's surefire curveball.
At first base Camilli was ready to rush the mound and embrace his pitcher in joyous celebration of this heroic performance. Camilli is 90 now, living in suburban San Francisco. Tanned and fit, he swam daily in the frigid waters of San Francisco Bay until he was sidelined by a recent illness. The '41 Series remains for him unforgettable.
Henrich lives in Prescott, Ariz.—"God's country," he calls it. He's 84 but, like Camilli, looks years younger. He can recount the events of 1941 as if they occurred yesterday.
"I knew that Casey had a very good high curve, and that's a pitch that always gave me trouble," Henrich recalls. "Couldn't hit it for the life of me. And so here I am with two strikes on me, and here it comes. It was a beauty, one of the best and craziest curveballs I've ever seen. It was definitely not a spitter, as some people have claimed. I thought it was going to be a strike, so I started my swing. And then that pitch broke sharply down. I tried to hold up, but it was too late. I'd committed myself. The funny thing is that even in that instant, while I was swinging, I thought to myself that if I'm having this much trouble with the pitch, maybe Mickey Owen is, too. So I looked around behind me after I missed the ball."