Diz, who had been
pitching down the stretch with only two days' rest, won the opener against
Pittsburgh, and after Paul had got beaten in the next one, Frisch called a
meeting to discuss the pitching rotation in the last four games. I can hear Diz
as if he were in the clubhouse right now: "I'll pitch tomorrow, and if I
get in trouble Paul will relieve me. And he'll pitch the next day, and if he
gets in trouble, I'll relieve him. And I'll pitch the next day and Paul will
pitch the day after that. Don't worry, we'll win four straight."
For once Diz was
wrong. They only pitched in three of them.
With three games
to go, Diz shut the Reds out to put us in a flat-footed tie with the Giants.
The next day Paul Dean beat them 6-1, and Van Mungo of the Dodgers beat the
Giants. We were a game ahead with one game to play. If we lost and the Giants
won, baseball would have its first playoff. Because of the different time
zones, we knew the Giants had lost again before our game started. Not that it
mattered. With his opportunity to tie down the pennant and become a 30-game
winner, there was no chance whatsoever that Dizzy Dean was going to lose. He
pitched another shutout.
The World Series
opened in Detroit and Diz was down to pitch the opening game with his usual two
days' rest. On the day we arrived in town we walked into the ball park. The
Tigers were taking batting practice. "Get the bats," Diz said. And he
walked down to the field in his street clothes, picked out a bat and jumped
into the cage in front of Hank Greenberg, the big gun for the Tigers. "I'll
show you how to hit the ball, Moe," he said.
was just what you think it is, the casual anti-Semitism of the locker room.
That was part of the era of the farm boy, too. What did it mean? Well, it meant
what it meant. Depending on who said it and how you chose to take it. I was at
a banquet with Joe DiMaggio the year he came back from a bad ankle injury and
limped up to the plate at Fenway Park to bury the Red Sox. I was telling Joe
that I didn't think the Yankees could possibly have won the pennant without
him. "No," DiMaggio said, "the Little Dago is the only player the
Yankees can't afford to lose. He's the one who holds the team
The Little Dago
was Phil Rizzuto. The Big Dago was DiMaggio himself. That's what they were
called in their own locker room, and you can see that they took it as a
There was never
anything vicious about Diz, though. Greenberg just laughed at him. Diz hit a
couple of pretty good drives, and then Greenberg stepped in and hit one a ton
and a half. "That's the way to hit the ball, Moe," Dean said.
The final game is
where the action was. Before we get there I have to tell you that after we had
taken a 2-1 lead in games (Diz had won Game One and Paul had won Game Three)
Frisch decided that he could afford to give Diz another day of rest. The result
was that we got slaughtered 10-4, and Diz almost got killed when he put himself
into the game as a pinch runner. It happened in the fourth inning while we were
still in the ball game. As a matter of fact, I was on first base (I had reached
on an error) when Spud Davis, a big slew-footed catcher, pinch-hit for the
pitcher and lined a single to right. One run scored. I went to third with the
tying run, and when I looked up, Diz, who fancied himself a great base runner,
was pulling off his jacket and dashing onto the field to run for Davis. I
assume that he put himself in because he had been doing it all year.
Let me ask you
something. How many times have you seen a base runner hit by the relay from
second base? I played shortstop for years, and whenever a man was coming in
high on me I always aimed the ball right between the eyes. Never hit a man in
my life because the reflex action is to duck.