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And suddenly poor old Casey was back in business, back even, needing, after all these weeks of the season, only two more victories to recapture the World Championship flag that hasn't been the Yankees' since 1953. It was hard to imagine him losing again. The memory holds a picture of Billy Martin in the losing Yankee dressing room last year, near tears, saying, "It's a shame for a great manager like that to have to lose."
...HOME PLATE IS CENTER STAGE
...THE DESPERATE BALLET OF THE BASE PATHS
If home plate is the focus of attention, the base paths are where the World Series plot was developed and explored. When Carl Furillo (above) suddenly decided to try for three bases on his long hit to right-center field, everyone watching had the story line clear in his mind: Baserunner Furillo trying for the impossible extra base, Outfielder Bauer charged with the responsibility of stopping him. The race was on: runner and ball. The ball, secure finally in Third Baseman Carey's glove, won. The tragedy was Furillo's. But the emotion of the moment, joy or indignation, was the spectator's.
Yankee infielders like Billy Martin (left below) and Gil McDougald (right below) played, for the most part, with masterful poise and grace, but the hero of the base paths, both on the field and on base, was the spry old (37) shortstop of the Dodgers, Pee Wee Reese (below center). Reese was the steady man of the Brooklyn team, making the fielding play with steady, upright caution, but without delay. At bat he was of great importance. Just before Snider hit his three-run homer to tie the score of the wild second game, it was Reese who dueled with the young sidearmer, Johnny Kucks, pitch by pitch, foul ball by foul ball, until finally he powered a single into left field for the two runs that brought the Dodgers alive again. Baseball reveres the "clutch" player; here Reese came through heroically in a most serious "clutch."
He confounded his critics with his speed. He's beating out a crucial base hit below that was instrumental in a Brooklyn victory. He scampered around the bases to beat out a triple, and cashed his run by scoring on a fly to the outfield.
Enos Slaughter, another old one, was a delight to see, with his constant rhythmic running everywhere, particularly around the bases to score run after run. Even on the home run that won the third game, Enos trotted rapidly rather than jog slowly with casual tradition.
There were other brief flashes of rare beauty: Snider flashing into second with a magnificent sliding flourish to beat out a double; Mantle stealing a base with his blazing burst of speed and quick, neat little slide; Jim Gilliam timing a line drive perfectly and leaping high in the air and seemingly holding himself there until he had the ball.
...APPLAUSE DAY AFTER DAY
The thread of the plot and the clean, steady line of building suspense lay in the hands of the old stagers, to whom the plaudits of the crowd were an old and still intoxicating music. Enos Slaughter, as letter-perfect in his performance as a Shakespearean actor playing his 1,000th Hamlet, swung his bat with the immense assurance of 19 summers of baseball. He banged away steadily at the good Dodger pitching through the first two games, and his three-run homer in the sixth inning of the third game won for the Yankees and brought suspense back to a plot which had begun to flag.