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October 11, 1954
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October 11, 1954



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Who says the Republic is not still strong?

No. 1 fan

The title of No. 1 fan at the World Series clearly belonged to a businessman from Denver named A. B. (for Albert Bernard) Hirschfeld, who saw his first Series in 1919, has seen 32 others since. Judging from Mr. Hirschfeld's enjoyment of this year's affair, they are getting better all the time.

Matter of fact, the first series A.B. saw was the crooked one involving the notorious Chicago Black Sox. At the time, A.B. himself suspected nothing, but he wouldn't be likely to in the excitement of seeing his first Series from a $2 seat in that now-vanished department of a ball park: the pavilion. A.B. was then a young apprentice printer in Denver. In the years between, he has risen to proprietorship of Denver's largest printing plant (built on the site of the old ball park, with A.B.'s office smack in center field), has served 14 years in the Colorado legislature and is currently a director of the Denver ball club in the Western League.

"But, heck!" cried A.B., now bald, plump, pink-cheeked and 66, "that's all coincidental! Now I pick the Giants, although by rights I should be rooting for Cleveland because I was born in the good old Buckeye State. I'd like to string along with Lopez, but I can't. He's got no bench?and that's what will lick him."

This was on the eve of the first game and A.B. could hardly bear his happy anticipation. As the phone rang in his New York hotel room, he pounced on it and shouted into it: "Play ball!" The caller was one of A.B.'s friends who take a personal interest in seeing him maintain his World Series record. "A box for the second game?" exclaimed A.B. "Sure I want it! Send 'em right over!"

Mr. Hirschfeld has been forced to pay scalpers' prices only once since 1919. He didn't like to do it, but there was no other way. Now he does the best he can by writing in early, but he never worries if he is turned down. He comes on to the Series anyway and somehow tickets are pressed on him by friends. "And I swear," said A.B., "it's all coincidental!"

At the ball park, A.B. is enthusiastic, but fairly restrained. He keeps score in a primitive way and cries out confidently to predict a play now and then. He has worked out an almost foolproof system to avoid embarrassment for guessing wrong. If, say, he should cry out, "Williams will bunt here!" and then Davey Williams takes a cut at the ball, A.B. is ready with an almost monumental non sequitur as a cover-up. "Listen," he may exclaim, whirling on a neighbor, "give a thought to the umpires! Was there ever a breath of scandal connected with those boys in blue? There was not!"

Hirschfeld is all fan. He never played a game of baseball in his life, mostly because he started to work at the age of 10. During the regular season, he never misses a home game of the Denver club. Even at 66 he is able to subsist almost entirely during the World Series on the fan's diet: hot dogs and soda pop. He lets no inconvenience dismay him; he even enjoys the New York subway jam after the game, conducting spirited nose-to-nose conversations with perfect strangers all the way downtown and exhibiting to them his rain check from the 1919 series.

It is the Hirschfeld ambition to run his string of World Series to 35. Then he plans to take his grandson, A.B. II, to the big show and turn the tradition over to him. He has already confided this scheme to his grandson, now 12, who had this comment: "Grandpa, you're a character!"

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