There are two points of puzzlement about the Dodgers. One concerns where they will play baseball in years to come; the other, how. There is a growing belief that whichever town inherits the team, be it Los Angeles, Queens, some more obscure part of Long Island, or just plain little old downtown Brooklyn, it will be getting a stinker.
The rhetorically inclined are using words like "denouement of a dynasty." The funny ones refer to it as the end of an "area," and they unfailingly place quotation marks around area, to insure against charges of illiteracy.
No matter how cleverly phrased, the insinuation is clear. The greatest of Dodger teams has had it. For the first time in 12 years, the perennial pennant favorite is out of the NL race during the month of September. The team which won six flags in that time and in post-season playoffs was beaten out of two others has, all at once, been devoured by age.
It will be years, the pessimists add, before the Dodgers are heard from again. The organization has dry rot at the roots. Only the rich legacy from Branch Rickey's time has carried the club since he left, anyway. The present regime rode the momentum of Rickey's driving genius, until now, seven years later, they were compelled to go it on their own—and flopped.
Three men run the Dodger organization. It is a uniquely compatible triumvirate. Walter O'Malley, president, occupies himself at present with conferences with mayors, city council-men, park commissioners and past presidents of the National Association of Manufacturers. This leaves the actual operation of the ball club to the vice-presidents: E. J. Bavasi, 41, (the E stands for Emil, which is why he is called Buzzie), and L. Fresco Thompson, 55.
O'Malley installed this dual directorship upon assuming command of the club after the 1950 season. The duties of each were well defined: Bavasi to run the big club, Thompson to direct the farm operations. From that day, the two executives have guided the fortunes of the eminently successful Dodger organization in complete harmony. At least, no gunshot wounds have been reported.
It is at them, then, that the criticism is directed. It is they who are accused now of having ridden Rickey's coattails until the material wore out.
Is the criticism justified? Are the Dodgers on the descending crescent of the cycle, or was this year merely an off season? The dual directorship prefers the latter interpretation.
"If we made a mistake," claims Bavasi, "it was in letting this team grow old on our hands. We could have sold a lot of the stars long ago, but we chose not to. We preferred to hold them, and win with them, because they were the best—the best the National League has known for a long time.