But for all the
awesome deeds of these, the one player the Dodger fan turns to at World Series
all by himself is the aging, aching, tiring, still crabby and competitive
Jackie Robinson. He's hitting only .250 after six straight years over .300. It
is by all odds his worst season and probably his last. But Robinson is still
all ballplayer, all fire and victory. When the Dodgers late in August frittered
away a good part of their lead and specters of the 1951 collapse rose in the
dugout, it was Robinson who said, "I'll shake them up. If I get on base
I'll shake up this team."
He got on base.
He shook them up. Heavy, gray and creaking, he stole a base against the Reds.
Next day he stole two more. Next day he was out trying to steal home against
the Cards. Day after that, he daringly, audaciously, contemptuously tried
stealing home again—and this time he made it. During those four games he twice
drew wild pick-off throws to first and raced around to third before the errant
throw could be recovered. The Dodgers were "shook up." They promptly
ran off a winning streak that didn't stop until the pennant was won.
And so Jackie is
another big reason why the Dodger fan feels optimistic. All that hitting and
all that pitching. And Jackie.
There is one more
reason why Mr. Brooklyn thinks his team will win. The two most dependable
Yankee pitchers are left-handers, Whitey Ford and Tommy Byrne, and—at least in
the National League—lefthanders do not beat the Dodgers. In fact, so
awe-inspiring is the right-hand Brooklyn power that almost never do
left-handers pitch against the Dodgers, particularly in Ebbets Field.
Mr. Brooklyn nods
his head to Logic and enjoys thinking how his team should win but Memory and
Emotion whisper in his ear too, and then he is not so happy. One says,
"Don't forget the hold the Yankees have on the Dodgers," and reminds
him of the record: seven straight failures in Series competition, the last five
against the Yankees. The other says, "Forget the stumbling appearance of
the Yankees during July and August and remember how they looked last week. The
Yankees are tough. They're the Yankees. They just don't like to lose."
He is reminded
the Yankees have pitching too, four guys named Ford and Byrne and Larsen and
Turley who struggled through those bad months without relief and, apparently
stronger for their labors, finished as if their names were Reynolds and Raschi
and Lopat. He remembers they have a brilliant kid named Mantle and a scowling,
dangerous ballplayer named Bauer and others, each in his own way, the equal of
the beloved Dodgers; versatile McDougald, clutch-hitting Collins, powerful
Skowron and Howard and game, scrappy little guys like Martin and Rizzuto. And
they have Yogi Berra. How do you get that man out when he wants to win a ball
It is then that
Mr. Brooklyn forgets Duke and Don and Roy and Pee Wee, forgets his own fine
team, thinks about the Yankees and shudders.