World Series joy, heartbreak and drama come alive in vintage New York Times sports stories.
The newspaper has been reprinting its coverage of World Series moments such as Brooklyn Dodgers catcher Mickey Owens' passed ball that gave the Yankees an unexpected victory in 1941, Yankees pitcher Don Larsen's perfect game over the Dodgers in 1956 and Boston Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk's 12th inning home run against the Reds in t976.
From the ornate style of the early 20th century to the streamlined writing of later years, the articles register baseball's once central place in American culture. The game's hold on the popular imagination reached its peak in 1976, when the Reds recovered from Fisk's blast to beat the Red Sox in seven games
Times sportswriter John Drebinger wrote the accounts of the famous 1941 and 1956 games between the Yankees and Dodgers, whose World Series battles through the years made for some of the fall classic's most exciting chapters.
With newsreel clarity, Drebinger captures the games' drama and historic importance. A Hall of Fame writer, Drebinger possessed a descriptive gift that still makes a reader feel he's there at old Ebbets Field or Yankees Stadium.
In the 1941 game at Ebbets Field, the Dodgers were on the brink of tying the Yankees two games apiece in the series. When Owens let a third strike get away from him in the top of the ninth inning, Yankees hitter Tommy Heinrich dashed to first base, leading to a game-winning rally by the Yankees. The Bronx Bombers closed out the series the next day. Famous Yankees Joe DiMaggio, Charlie "King Kong" Keller and Joe "Flash" Gordon come alive in Drebinger's piece.
Drebinger's wit and stylish writing shine in his report on Larsen's masterpiece. A journeyman pitcher, Larsen on that bright October afternoon stifled the Dodgers hitters Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, Carl Furillo, Sandy Amoros, Junior Gilliam and Roy Campanella. Dodgers pitcher Sal Maglie held the powerful Yankees to two runs and five hits. The Yankees' Mickey Mantle hit a solo home run.
John Durso's report on Fisk's home run to give the Boston Red Sox a sixth-game win over the Cincinnati Reds shows how the late 20th century's less convoluted style lessened the fun and drama of sportswriting. Compared with Drebinger's stories, Ourso's piece is drab and workmanlike.
The vintage Times articles capture moments of young men's moments of glory or defeat. After baseball, they grew old, as will today's players.