JUGS Sports | Newsletter 33: Doris Kearns Goodwin

  • Pulitzer Prize winner, Doris Kearns Goodwin, has written the perfect Baseball memoir, Wait Till Next Year.

    Here is an excerpt:

    Pulitzer Prize winner, Doris Kearns Goodwin, has written the perfect baseball memoir, Wait Till Next Year. Here is an excerpt:

    The Dodgers played their last game at Ebbets Field on Tuesday night, September 24, 1957. Though everybody knew the Dodgers were playing there for the last time, the Dodger management had deliberately refrained from staging an official farewell. Consequently, fewer than seven thousand fans showed up, lending an even more forlorn quality to the evening. Duke Snider later recalled that it seemed as if the lights weren't working correctly, as if the game were played in twilight.

    Pee Wee Reese led his teammates onto the field for the last time. Though the Dodgers won 2Ñ0, there was no pleasure in the victory. We were in third place, ten games behind the pennant-winning Milwaukee Braves. The organist, Gladys Gooding, tried to honor the occasion with her own defiant ceremony, providing a medley of nostalgic tunes. After the Dodgers scored their first run, she played "Are You Blue," and "After You're Gone." The second run was accompanied by "Don't Ask Me Why I'm Leaving." As the game reached the final innings, she played "Thanks for the Memories," "When the Blue of the Night Meets the Gold of the Day," and "Que Sera Sera." After the last out was recorded, she started playing "May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You." Yet even this small gesture toward the feelings of the fans was interrupted when some Dodger official turned on the record always played at the end of Dodger games, "Follow the Dodgers." Nevertheless, Miss Gooding had the last say. For nineteen years her organ music had accompanied the Dodgers and she was determined to close out the program in her own way. As the opening notes of "Auld Lang Syne" drifted across the field, fans stood in clusters, arms around one another, many openly crying. Then, slowly, one by one or in small groups, the last fans left the stadium. Behind them, Ebbets Field closed its doors forever.

    The following Sunday, the Giants held a special ceremony for their last game at the Polo Grounds, which at least provided a graceful opportunity for farewell. All the old Giant greats were on hand, and the crowd stood and cheered as Russ Hodges introduced each one: Rube Marquand, who had set a record in 1912 with nineteen straight victories, Carl Hubbell, Bully Jurges, Monte Irvin, Sal Maglie. The cheers continued as the starting lineup was announced: Whitey Lockman, Bobby Thomson, Willie Mays, Dusty Rhodes, Don Mueller. The last fan to leave was Mrs. John McGraw, widow of the celebrated Giant manager whose Giants had captured ten pennants earlier in the century. "I still can't believe I'll never see the Polo Grounds again," she said. "New York can never be the same to me."

    The Dodgers officially announced their move a few days later in a terse statement that took no account of our feelings. Even the Yankees had the courtesy to issue a statement of regret that New York was losing the Dodgers and the Giants. In the hearts of Brooklyn fans, O'Malley had secured his place in a line of infamy which now crossed the centuries from Judas Iscariot to Benedict Arnold to Walter F. O'Malley. Effigies of the Dodger owner were burned on the streets of Brooklyn. It was all over. Never again would the streets of New York be filled with passionate arguments about which of the city's three teams had the best center fielder, the best shortstop, the best catcher.

    editor's noteThis is a book written by someone who knows history, knows baseball, and sure knows how to write! To order your copy of Wait Till Next Year, call Just Books at 1-800-874-4568.