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The New York Times
April 25, 1955
Intrigued by Jackie Robinson's new method of breaking up a double play, Columnist Arthur Daley turns inquiring reporter to determine the legality of the strategy and gets varied reactions from Leo Durocher, who screams no, and Warren Giles, who says yes
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April 25, 1955

The New York Times

Intrigued by Jackie Robinson's new method of breaking up a double play, Columnist Arthur Daley turns inquiring reporter to determine the legality of the strategy and gets varied reactions from Leo Durocher, who screams no, and Warren Giles, who says yes

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They say that there can be no new plays in baseball. Yet it's quite possible that Jackie Robinson produced a new one on Wednesday. No baseball man this inquiring reporter questioned had seen it before and not all agreed on what should be done about it.

Jackie broke up a sure double play by permitting himself to be hit by a batted ball. It happened in the Dodger opener against the Pirates. The bases were full and Robbie was taking a lead off second when Roy Campanella grounded to short. Robbie let the ball hit him. So he was declared out, Campy was credited with an automatic hit and the bases remained full. But there was no double play.

"It was smart," said Leo Durocher when he was asked about the stratagem a day later. "But if that play happened the way I heard it happened, he wouldn't have got away with it against me. I'd have shot out of the dugout screaming. And I'd have insisted that the umpires call it a double play anyway. They'd hafta call it that way."

QUESTION OF LEGALITY

"What rule did he violate? If it's deliberate interference, the umpire can call out the batter as well as the runner. It's a judgment play. The ump has to use his judgment just like when a base-runner tries to take out the middle man at second in a double play. The runner isn't tagged but the umpire calls him out for leaving the baseline. It's a matter of judgment. Don't you agree?"

It so happened that his listener didn't agree at all. But before he had a chance to ask the Dandy Little Manager what specific rule supported his argument, the impetuous Frank Frisch added to the confusion. The Old Flash is still a manager at heart.

"Sure it has to be called a double play," insisted Frisch with such emphasis that a listener quailed before his wrath. "It stands to reason that a runner can't be permitted to interfere with a double play. The umpires have to call both outs anyway."

Advice then was sought from several umpires, a breed of mankind which normally shuns controversy. The men in blue preferred to remain unidentified and only on that basis would they speak. Here's a composite quote:

"We agree with Leo," they began, "that deliberate interference with a double-play ball is wrong. But there isn't a thing we can do about it. He can scream and rant all he likes but no umpire has a right to presume that a double play would have been made. Maybe the shortstop would have thrown the ball into right field. How do we know? And we hope the rules are never changed to cover the issue Robinson raised. Then it would be a matter of judgment, and an umpire's life is tough enough without having that complication added to it."

Warren Giles, the president of the National League and the final court of appeals for his circuit, was not so bashful as his umpires. He didn't object to going on record.

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