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- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
UNTIL the middle of July it was a great year to be a Giant fan—what with Willie Mays, ninth-inning victories and a cheerful managerial genius named Leo Durocher. But then came the long dry spell, an unproductive Mays, four straight stunning losses to the Dodgers and a moody misanthrope, also named Durocher.
Last week, looking back over their shoulders, the Giants saw their lead down to only half a game. But surprisingly enough, they were still in first place. They stood erect, won four quick games from the Phils and Pirates and came into Sunday's doubleheader with the Pirates with a rested pitching staff and a glint in the eye.
After five innings, Leo Durocher's face showed the strain. Pirate Lefthander Paul LaPalme had the beginnings of a no-hitter; 16 Giants had gone down in dismal order. But in the sixth inning Leo's face began to clear. His hitters began to hit, and the woeful Pirate defense began to fray. The first game went to the Giants, 5-4. The second likewise, 5-3.
Meanwhile, at Ebbets Field, the Philadelphia Phils were meeting the Brooklyn Dodgers in another double-header. Sweeping their eyes from field to scoreboard, Giants and Giant fans at the Polo Grounds read exhilarating bulletins. The Phils were giving the Brooklyns a slapping around. When the bulletins from Brooklyn ended, the Giants owed a debt they will never pay to Philly Outfielder Del Ennis, who beat the Dodgers in both games with three-run homers.
Said a jubilant Leo Durocher: "A long day but a worthwhile one."
Nobody was counting the Dodgers out who remembered 1951, when the Giants came from 13½ games behind to beat Brooklyn on the last day. But it was Act III of the annual pennant melodrama, the final curtain was in sight, and the plot—invariably impromptu—was getting pretty clear.
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