- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair...
No one ever accused Charley Dickens of being a baseball writer but, give or take a few Victorian adjectives, Old Chuck might almost have been telling A Tale of Two Boroughs last week.
In darkest Brooklyn the New York Giants sent Sal Maglie, the blue-jowled right-hander, against the Dodgers. The Giants needed one game to win the National League pennant. Maglie, aging, backsore but courageous, had been winning needed games all season. This time he started slowly, walked two in the first inning. Then he threw a double-play ball to Duke Snider. Then he never gave the Dodgers another chance.
At Ebbets Field the fans of Brooklyn hooted Maglie. Sal had heard?and ignored?their hoots before. Between innings Maglie rushed to the Giant clubhouse so that a trainer could knead the twisted muscles in his back. On the field he relentlessly bent his curve ball past Dodger bats.
In the ninth inning Maglie snapped one final curve and Roy Campanella drove it slowly to the mound. Maglie clutched the ball, ran toward first base and tossed to Whitey Lockman. Lights went out all over Brooklyn. Manhattan, from Toots Shor's bar to Tallulah Bank-head's dressing room, rejoiced.
In Milwaukee another picture will haunt memories: the brilliant Bobby Thomson stretched out in the sand of a training camp infield at St. Petersburg, Fla. (opposite page). Back there in March even the most sanguine of Milwaukee rooters suspected that their pennant chances lay with Thomson in the dust at second base. The Braves, without the slugging outfielder until August, finished third.
There were other scenes that will be remembered and embroidered during the chilly winter months by baseball fans who live to relive baseball. Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox broke a collarbone on his first spring training day and did not return until May. With a metal pin holding the broken bones together, Williams played both games of a double-header in Detroit and lashed eight hits, including two home runs, in nine turns at bat.
"It hurt like hell," Williams said.