It was strange, seeing Casey Stengel in a business suit, sitting in the press box. Nine times in the last 10 years the World Series had been Casey's personal show; and now he was in the audience, looking like a drama critic from the Times.
Things were different all around. Comiskey Park is an old ball park, but as far as the Series was concerned it was practically brand-new. If you were a freshly delivered bouncing baby boy the last time the Series was played in Comiskey Park, you're 40 now and you don't remember Joe Jackson and Dickie Kerr.
The Los Angeles Coliseum is old, too—it was the site of the Olympic Games more than a quarter century ago—but major league baseball didn't shoulder its way into this great saucer until last year. California has never before had a World Series closer to it than Sportsman's Park in St. Louis, which is hard by the Mississippi River some 1,600 miles east by north of that notorious left-field screen. And they haven't even had a Series there, in St. Louis, for 13 years. So, you see, things were different this year.
Comiskey Park is a perfectly ordered, nicely symmetrical stadium that holds 46,550 people at capacity. The Los Angeles Coliseum as a place to play baseball is lopsided, knock-kneed, pigeon-toed and cross-eyed, but it seated 92,294 paid customers last Sunday at the first World Series game ever played there, and that's almost 20,000 better than Yankee Stadium ever did for a Series game.
The Dodgers won the National League pennant only after a weird race in which defeat seemed to come almost as often as victory. The Dodgers did win the games they had to win—especially those three big ones against San Francisco and the two straight from Milwaukee in the postseason playoff—but even so, their victory total was a measly 88. The White Sox, on the other hand, won their pennant by a good 5 games and had the added fame of being the team that stopped the Yankees.
Yet which was the confident, positive, swaggering club? The White Sox clobbered Los Angeles 11-0 but cautiously warned, "It doesn't mean a thing. They didn't win the National League pennant playing like that." The Dodgers squeaked out a 4-3 win in the second game, with the aid of an extravagant dose of luck, yet boasted, "They're not much of a team. They don't scare you. There's four or five teams in our league better than the White Sox."
Oddments continued. The Sox, famous for their speed, were cut down time and again stealing or trying for the extra base. The Sox were known, too, for the double play (see picture on opposite page) but the Dodgers were the ones who made the best use of this blunt, rally-killing instrument.
One thing delighted both teams. The attendance at the first four games came to 280,225, and the players, who share in the receipts of the first four games only, had $892,365.04 to divvy up, the highest ever. Amateur mathematicians proclaimed that each winning player's share would amount to something around $12,000.
It was a strange Series. But certainly a profitable one.
TURN PAGE FOR ROY TERRELL'S STORY OF THE FIRST FOUR GAMES