Yeah the Giants won the pennant with Bobby's home run in 51 but then they had to face the Yankees in the Series.
Things were changing fast.
Joe DiMaggio was playing in his final series.
Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays were playing in their first series.
Three of the greatest centerfielders of all time had a date with destiny thanks to Bobby Thomson.
The Giants won the first game.
The second game is when thunder struck.
Willie Mays led off the top of the fifth with a high shot to right-center in what was to be an easy fly-out. Centerfielder Joe DiMaggio prepared to make the catch while Mickey Mantle followed from rightfield in pursuit. According to several sources, Yankees manager Casey Stengel had instructed Mantle earlier to "take everything he could get" as " Joe D" was in the twilight of his career. The nineteen-year old speedster pulled up at the last second as DiMaggio made the play and caught his foot on the wooden cover of a drainage outlet. His knee buckled forcing him out of the Series and instigating the start of several leg problems that would haunt Mantle for the rest of his eighteen-season career.
Mantle himself would say many times that he was never again as good a ballplayer as he was before he stepped on that drainage outlet. Mickey never again played a game without significant pain. Never again was Mickey the fastest player in the game.
What if Bobby had never hit that homerun? For sure, Willie wouldn't have hit the fly that crippled Mick.
Mick went on to become an alcoholic or maybe he was an alcoholic all along waiting for an incident to kick off a lifetime of pain leading directly to the bottle.
Many of the kids growing up in the fifties wanted to be just like Mick.
Many of us grew up to struggle with alcohol.
Many of us lost that struggle.
Bobby Thomson played in all six of the games that year, which the Yankees wone four games to two.
Bobby hit .238. Five for twenty six.
Willie had three more series to play.
Mick had eleven.
Joe D had none and neither did Bobby.
But Bobby continued to invisibly influence baseball for many, many years.
Right up to and including two nights ago.
© 2010 Thornton Krell - 11/4/10