Triage in the Bronx

One of the more compelling—and for many observers, surprising—storylines so far in the 2013 season has been the M.A.S.H. unit that is the New York Yankees roster. A cascade of injuries has bedeviled the team all the way back to last October, tearing gaping holes in their everyday lineup.

For the sake of—I won’t say “completeness,” because I’m probably missing something; call it instead “gratuitousness”—here’s a rundown of injuries to the New York Yankees since the end of the 2012 regular season. Parental discretion is advised.

{exp:list_maker}Derek Jeter broke his left ankle fielding a ground ball in Game One of the ALCS against Detroit. He was expected to be ready to play on Opening Day, at least as a DH, but after re-fracturing the ankle, his return was pushed back beyond the All-Star break.
Alex Rodriguez struggled through the playoffs with a failing left hip that required surgery, which was delayed all the way to January. He’s now cleared for baseball activities, but his return is currently projected for August.
Center fielder Curtis Granderson had his right arm broken by one of the first pitches of the exhibition season. Taking two months to heal, he returned to the lineup on May 14. Ten days later, he had the knuckle of his left pinky broken by a pitch (in the same game that starting pitcher David Phelps came out after being hit in his pitching arm by a line drive). Granderson will miss between four and 10 weeks.
First baseman Mark Teixeira tweaked his right wrist in spring training. The tweak ended up a strain that put him on the 60-day disabled list. Fingers are crossed that he’ll return in June.
The front office signed Kevin Youkilis to take over at third base for A-Rod. Youk suffered some back tightness in a game on April 20, sat for six days, then tried to come back. Tried and failed. He’s now been on the DL for a lumbar spine strain for the past month and will remain there for at least another week or two.
The Yankees plugged replacement-y player Eduardo Nunez in at shortstop for Jeter. A wrist contusion in mid-April kept him out for a couple games. A rib cage strain in early May has kept him out for three weeks and counting, and his rehab just had a reverse. Given his Jeff Francoeur-ish WAR numbers before the DL stint, the Yankees are not really rushing him back.
Catcher Francisco Cervelli broke his right hand on April 26, sending him to the 60-day DL. His backup, Chris Stewart, suffered a groin strain on May 16 that cost him five games and is still paining him. For that stretch, the Yankees’ only catcher was Austin Romine, who began the season in the minors.
And the same day Stewart had his man-wince injury, Andy Pettitte hurt his left trapezius. His DL stint likely will go a week or more past the advertised 15 days.
Other pinstriped pitchers hitting the DL include Ivan Nova (triceps), who came back in four weeks, and Joba Chamberlain (oblique—no trampoline involved), who’s also spent four weeks out. Hiroki Kuroda stopped a liner with his calf last Wednesday. David Robertson‘s sore left hamstring left the reliever day-to-day for a time. A thoracic injury to Phil Hughes late in spring training somehow let him slip into the rotation before missing a regular-season turn. {/exp:list_maker}
I would have counted the skydiving injury to general manager Brian Cashman (broken fibula and dislocated ankle), but it clearly hasn’t diminished his work capacity. He has been dizzingly busy filling the holes that open up seemingly every day. One can question the effectiveness (as everybody who saw Ben Francisco still on the roster did until he got DFA’d Sunday) but not the effort.

Plenty of baseball fans assumed the Yankees couldn’t weather the losses of four starting players, never mind the rest that have followed. I myself embraced my inner fatalist, picked the Yankees for fifth and last in the American League East this season, and awaited the Fall of the Empire.

And it hasn’t happened. Not quite yet, anyway.

After riding out an early Boston surge, the Yankees bobbed to the top of the division standings. Then, after the Granderson/Phelps injuries, I decided to shelve my other article for today and write this one, based on their being in first place despite the mass casualties. Immediately after that, Boston won two huge comeback victories, the Yankees coughed up two games, and Boston hauled New York back into second, undermining my whole justification. The perversity of the universe truly is infinite, which sure sounds better than God just having a laugh at my expense.

Where was I?

Oh, right. The Yankees haven’t croaked as expected, and this is interesting to people like us who, wisely, find baseball interesting. It also has some precedents in baseball history. Notably, it has a precedent in another New York Yankees team that couldn’t go four days without somebody getting hurt and won despite these repeated calamities.

This is their story. Later, I will examine to what extent it could be the 2013 Yankees’ story as well.

Half their pinstripes tied behind their backs

There wasn’t a whole lot of optimism about the New York Yankees going into 1949. They had finished third the previous season and had just one pennant in the last five years, a huge letdown from winning 14 of the previous 23. Worse, their new manager was Casey Stengel, who in nine seasons managing in the National League had never finished better than fifth and was regarded by more sober observers as a clown, a dreadful fit for the highly professional Yankees.

Worse still, their marquee player, Joe DiMaggio, had a miserable spring training. A bone spur had been surgically removed from his right heel the previous November, but the heel still hurt. He began playing at the end of March, but not too effectively and never painlessly. He would not be on the field for Opening Day, and nobody could quite say when he would be playing again.

This was not too shocking. DiMaggio always had been injury-prone, all the way back to the 1934 knee injury while in the Pacific Coast League that scared some major league suitors but not the Yankees. This time, though, it felt different. Joltin’ Joe was 34, and some speculated that injury and age in tandem finally were bringing him down. And without their undisputed best player, what hopes could the Yankees have?

By Opening Day on April 19, there was plenty more ailing the Yankees. Outfielder Charlie Keller had a pulled muscle in his side to go along with the back injury from 1947 that had crippled his career. He wouldn’t play his first game that year until June 16. The pitching staff was in rough shape, too: Bob Porterfield had a pulled arm muscle, Spec Shea an ailing neck, and Clarence “Cuddles” Marshall was down with a fever and inflamed throat.

This doesn’t count the walking wounded who managed to play that day. Outfielder Johnny Lindell had sprained his ankle but came in as a late defensive replacement. Catcher Larry Berra (who had this odd mystical nickname that had caught on fast) skipped the start with a cold but did pinch-hit in the seventh, stroking a game-tying single. The decimated Yankees outlasted the Washington Senators that day, winning 3-2 on a Tommy Henrich walk-off home run.

Things worsened the next day. Second baseman Snuffy Stirnweiss sprained his hand, and backup catcher Charlie Silvera took a foul ball in the mouth, both before that day’s game even began. Shortstop Phil Rizzuto caught Berra’s cold—as apparently did Del Webb, co-owner of the Yankees! Yogi got hit by a pitch in the sixth but was hale enough to participate in a triple-steal moments later.

For the next three weeks, Yogi was his team’s injury magnet. He would play in the next seven games despite a collision with Yanks first baseman Dick Kryhoski on the 22nd, only to be knocked out for a game by a foul ball off his arm. Three days after that, a collision with Boston’s Lou Stringer got him spiked in the leg, but despite being helped off the field, he stayed in. Nine days after that, an infield practice ball thrown by teammate Jack Phillips struck him just over the right eye. He was carried off the field on a stretcher and rushed to the hospital. The next day, he’d pinch-hit, and he started the game after that.

The cluster of injuries that began the Yankees’ season drew press attention, mainly because the team was succeeding despite it. They won their first four contests, dropped one, reeled off three more wins, then repeated the cycle of one down, three up twice more. They were in first place from the first game they played. They were walking the high wire in fine style, but nobody knew how much longer it would last.

Ailments kept cropping up, both common and bizarre. The month of May witnessed sore knees, sore arms, a spike to the heel, a bat to the head. It also saw two Yankees go to the hospital with sinus problems. Stirnweiss’s hand went into a cast. Lindell lost two weeks to torn knee cartilage.

Stengel was getting a baptism by fire in the American League. He had to piece together lineups every day out of whatever players weren’t bruised, battered, or laid up, lineups he not only hoped would win but were expected to win. There was no assumption that the owners would accept excuses for a subpar finish. He was fighting to strengthen a tenuous hold on his job, and if he lost it, he almost certainly had managed his last game in the major leagues.

Circumstances forced flexibility upon him, and his own experience as a part-time player in the 1920s suggested a particular kind of flexibility: platooning. Righty Hank Bauer and lefty Gene Woodling would become an outfield component of the scheme, when they were both available, and Casey had enough potential first basemen to mix and match there as much as he pleased. Platooning would become a Stengel hallmark, helping to revive its use across the majors—because it’s only the successful innovations, or revivals, that get copied.

The casualty roll lengthened through June. Porterfield, Stirnweiss, Kryhoski, Woodling. Yogi had hand and neck troubles, and fireman Joe Page got an infected foot. Third baseman Bobby Brown lost over three weeks to an ankle sprain. Still, the Yankees kept themselves clear of the Tigers, the Indians, the tenacious A’s, and the rebounding Red Sox. June would end with a three-game set against Boston up at Fenway—and a dramatic return.

DiMaggio woke on the morning of June 28 feeling something very strange: the lack of pain in his right foot. Whether through modern medicine or just time, he finally had healed up. He wasted no time, catching an afternoon flight to Boston and surprising Stengel by offering to play the night game that would begin the Red Sox series. It required no managerial genius to slide Joe straight into the cleanup spot, 65-game layoff or not.

DiMaggio’s return was the stuff of novels, the kind of thing Bernard Malamud probably noticed as he was pulling together The Natural. Joe D. singled and homered his first two times back at the plate, his two runs and two RBIs the difference in a 5-4 win. He’d homer twice the next day, his second putting New York ahead 8-7 in a contest they’d win, 9-7. On getaway day, his three-run homer in the seventh was the difference in a 6-3 victory that completed the sweep.

The series was a haymaker to the Red Sox, dropping them eight back on their way to trailing by 12 in July. More, Joltin’ Joe’s incredible return performance seemed to set everything right with the Yankees. Surely they now would cruise to the pennant behind a rejuvenated DiMaggio.

But even during the Boston series, the injuries kept coming. In the first game, Johnny Pesky crashed into Rizzuto during a double play. Scooter suffered a concussion, though X-rays before the third game showed no fracture. In game two, a Billy Goodman foul tip split Berra’s right little fingernail, and he missed the next day. That was the day Rizzuto, playing through his concussion in a way that would horrify today’s trainers, suffered sudden cramps in his right wrist and forearm and had to come out. Doctors speculated it was a neurological aftereffect of the Pesky crack-up.

Rizzuto would miss the next two games getting his arm feeling right again, and tangentially healing his head. They would be the only two games he missed all year. He played 153 out of 155 games: Jerry Coleman was second on the team with 128, and Yogi Berra third at just 116. In 151 of the 155 contests, Rizzuto played every inning. While every other corner of the diamond was in flux, Rizzuto was the iron man of the Yankees.

This reliability gained him an outsized reward: he finished second in the MVP voting to Ted Williams. By any statistical measure, Williams was miles ahead, his OPS+ at 191 to Scooter’s 88. Lots of controversy and mental gymnastics go into the definition of “valuable,” today as much as then.

Those who posited that a bat okay for a shortstop, and a glove way better than okay for a shortstop, playing every day while his teammates went down like ducks at a shooting gallery, was the most valuable contributor to the Yankees made their case here. Since it didn’t cost Williams his well-earned reward, there’s not so much reason to quibble.

It might have helped Rizzuto that the next-closest case on his team belonged to a class of player that had yet to gain full respect: a relief pitcher. Page had a Bret Saberhagen-like pattern: good in odd years, poor in even years. 1949 was his best odd year. Parlaying a 156 ERA+, he won 13 games in relief, one shy of his own AL record, and saved 27 games, a stat not yet compiled but also the highest total ever in the majors. (It would take until Luis Arroyo of the 1961 Yankees to break both marks.) This got Page a close third in the MVP voting, right behind Rizzuto.

Aside from buoying their ball club, these two set up future MVP success. Rizzuto would take a big step forward with his offense the next season and win the 1950 AL MVP award. Over in the senior circuit, bullpen soulmate Jim Konstanty would take his league’s MVP trophy, the example of Page perhaps working on voters’ minds.

But for now, Rizzuto and Page were fighting for the pennant, even as injuries kept pecking away at their team. The outfield took several blows in July. Henrich hurt his ribs and knees, then broke his big toe. Woodling had troubles with his shoulder, arm, and knee. Cliff Mapes‘ right ankle swelled up after hitting a foul tip off it in batting practice, and his bad defensive play after the self-wounding cost New York a game against second-place Cleveland.

The chain of injuries held the press’s attention, and the Yankees eventually began feeding it. They produced a list of all the injuries and illnesses suffered by the team, highlighting all the adversity they had endured and overcome. They updated the press release as needed—and it was needed quite a lot.

An August 7 demolition of the St. Louis Browns turned costly. Berra, in his second plate appearance of the third inning after hitting a three-run homer, was hit in the hand by pitcher Dick Starr. Yogi’s left thumb was broken, and he would miss three weeks. Later the same game, Henrich took a pitch off his right elbow that cost him two games. Browns hurlers hit two other Yankees in the 20-2 wipeout, and there was some suspicion this was a deliberate reprisal campaign.

This was part of a very rocky August. There were cramps, bad backs, neuralgia, and more sinus problems (though none needing hospitalization). DiMaggio sprained his left shoulder and missed two games. Rizzuto suffered a chipped bone, though he didn’t miss an inning. And while the Yankees kept playing good ball, it wasn’t dominant, and the Red Sox, again resurgent, got as close as a game-and-a-half by month’s end.

It was time for reinforcements, and the front office obliged Casey. First base had been a revolving door all season between injuries, weak bats, and outfield holes to fill. The upgrade was big and expensive: the Yankees bought Johnny Mize from the Giants on August 22 for $40,000. Mize was aging but still an offensive force, sixth all-time in home runs to that date. Bringing a lefty power hitter to Yankee Stadium’s short right porch always had its attractions. It was just the kind of move that could keep the Yankees in first.

Naturally, Mize lasted less than a week. In the first inning of an August 28 nightcap, he dove for first on defense to beat Dave Philley on a drag bunt and landed hard on his right shoulder. Immediate reports said he was only bruised and would miss no action. Instead, he was idled for three weeks and made only seven plate appearances the rest of the season, all as a pinch-hitter. Even then, $40,000 didn’t go too far.

Mize’s mishap added injury to injury. In the first game of that double-header, Henrich crashed into the right-field wall chasing what ended up a double. He cracked two lumbar vertebrae, promptly went into a cast, and was given no chance of returning that season. He would beat that dire prognosis, missing three weeks just like Mize. He was limited in mobility, though, and would be confined mainly to first base, filling in right where Mize was supposed to be.

The pace of injuries finally began to slow as the pennant race rounded into September, but there was one more nasty surprise lurking. Before the Sept. 18 game versus Cleveland, DiMaggio came to the clubhouse feeling unwell. The team doctor found him running a fever, and he was kept out of the 7-3 win, in full confidence that a day of rest would see him playing again.

It wouldn’t. DiMaggio had viral pneumonia, confining him to bed for two weeks, smack in the middle of the stretch run. The Yankees held their narrow lead for a while, until another visit to Fenway Park. This time, the Red Sox conducted the sweep, winning the final game on a hugely controversial play at the plate on a squeeze bunt, Bobby Doerr bringing home Pesky. With that third win, the Red Sox pulled a game ahead with five to play, knocking the Yankees out of the top perch for the first time since their opening game of the campaign.

It had been a long time since the baseball world had considered the New York Yankees underdogs. That was their role now, sportswriters composing tributes to them for having borne adversity so long before it finally struck them down. It was a bit premature, but without DiMaggio, it seemed ordained.

New York would pull back even, then fall a game behind again with two to play. (Before that game, reserve catcher Ralph Houk was hit over the right eye by a ball that took a freak ricochet off a railing. He needed two stitches.) Those last two would be at Yankee Stadium, against the Red Sox.

DiMaggio would leave his sick bed to be there. The first game, October 1, was Joe DiMaggio Day, scheduled months in advance. Visibly pale and weakened, DiMaggio accepted a hoard of gifts (most passed on to charities) and gave a short speech, which included a line that instantly became part of team lore: “I’d like to thank the good Lord for making me a Yankee.”

And then he played.

Other writers have related the stories of those last two climactic games well enough that I needn’t repeat their work. I do have to mention that, as Henrich gloved the final foul-out that won the pennant for New York, Yankees coach Bill Dickey (who had been learning Yogi all his experience) leaped from the bench in joy and cracked his head on the cement roof of the dugout. Sources differ as to the number of maladies this made for the Yankees. My chosen list in The Sporting News puts it at 72, not counting Del Webb’s cold.

As the Yankees scaled the dynastic heights again, Stengel would come to be dismissed by some as a push-button manager who didn’t have to do anything tougher than spell his superstars’ names right on the lineup card. They forgot this year, the six-month juggling act that almost crashed to the ground before ending in triumph.

Then and now

“Okay, Shane,” say those of you who actually remember my name, “are there connections we’re supposed to make? Are there lessons we’re supposed to learn?” I certainly hope there are. History’s always been good for lessons we can apply to today, if only we pay attention. Perhaps as I should have when making my staff predictions here: I was thinking so much of the Yankees of 1965 and 1966, I never thought of 1949.

What were the advantages the 1949 Yankees had that allowed them to survive that medical nightmare and win the pennant? And where do today’s Yankees measure up and fall short to that team? Here is my rundown, organized by what Casey’s crew had going for it.

No. 1: Strong, healthy starting pitching. The ’49 Yankees got 30 starts or more from their top four pitchers: Vic Raschi, Eddie Lopat, Allie Reynolds, and Tommy Byrne. Raschi was the workhorse with 37 starts, a figure Stengel never again would match as he spread out the load in later seasons. All four starters, plus swingman Fred Sanford (no data on if he was a junkballer), had an above-average ERA+. This was the part of his roster Casey could always count on.

The 2013 team looked like it might have a similar luxury, but it isn’t working that well. The top three starters, CC Sabathia, Kuroda, and Pettitte, are putting up rather middling FIP and xFIP numbers. Sabathia’s fastball and sinker have lost over two mph from last year, and the same pitches from Kuroda are down one-plus.

Remarkably, Pettitte’s velocity has gone up across the board, back to where he was three and four years ago, a gravity-defying move for a pitcher who turns 41 two weeks from Saturday. Sadly, his strikeout, walk, and home run rates all have worsened despite the rejuvenation. Speed isn’t everything. Plus, he’s hurt right now.

The rest of the staff is no Superchief Reynolds, if not quite at Cuddles Marshall levels. Hughes runs hot and cold, tending toward the cold. A great game/awful game pattern leads to .500 faster than constant okay games, and .500 isn’t where the Yanks want to be. Nova might be doing a reversal of his flashy 2011, when he finished 16-4 with so-so peripherals. Today, Nova’s ERA is over 6.00 while his FIP and xFIP are under 4.00. Swingman Phelps is doing pretty decently despite some poor balls-in-play luck.

The 2013 staff isn’t up to 1949 standards, though the potential is there, and it could be a return from one of last year’s injuries that fulfills it. Michael Pineda is working toward a second-half debut, and after a troubling stretch, his velocity is nearing its old numbers. An effective Pineda cannot return too soon for the Yankees, but as with so many players, they will have to be patient.

No. 2: Shutdown relief. Page plausibly can be called the first modern reliever, the player whose example other teams followed, thereby remaking the game in his image. Playing 60 games without a start and pitching over 135 innings, he was the Yankees’ safety net in a year when virtually nothing was safe.

As I write, the 2013 Yankees have six full-time relievers with 10 or more innings pitched. The second-worst ERA+ among them is a 142. Mariano Rivera is out-Mariano-ing himself at an amazing 305—and he’s third-best in the bullpen! Today’s club is, if anything, outdoing 1949 in relief.

No. 3: Organizational depth. The Yankees were a rich team in 1949 as they are today. Back before free agency, though, they parlayed those resources in different ways, perhaps primary via their minor-league system. With two Triple-A teams and plenty below, the Yankees farm was stocked with potential. When players were hurt or ineffective in the bigs, they could reach down and find replacements who could provide more than mere replacement value.

[Writer's note: My family history actually has some confirmation of the Yankees' ability to pour potential talent into its farm system. I might just write about it some day, if I can learn more than the sketchy details I currently have. And no, I don't have an infinite store of tales about how my family is intimately intertwined with baseball history. This is the last one. Except maybe for one brother-in-law ... and if my nephew keeps playing well, gets the right coach, who knows ...]

DiMaggio is out indefinitely? Bring in Woodling from the PCL to hold the fort. Stirnweiss’s hand is wrecked? Call up Coleman for a nice 2.5 WAR. Billy Johnson‘s struggling at first? Call up another first baseman, and another, and another. Stengel did a great job manipulating the pieces he had, but he had the pieces to manipulate.

The Yankees of 2013 don’t do it that way. Their minors are fairly bare, and fans’ hopes during spring training that this or that interesting player would get the call (Zoilo Almonte, Melky Mesa, Ronnier Mustelier) kept being disappointed. GM Cashman went instead mostly with scrap-heap signings and continues to do so as the injury bug bites more players.

This has paid some dividends. DH Travis Hafner is hitting very nicely; David Adams, released and re-signed by New York, is holding down third base capably in Youkilis’ absence. Vernon Wells, the acquisition of whom horrified every Yankees fan in existence and doubled up everyone else with laughter, hit the ground running and was a huge plus. Too bad he’s been turning back into a pumpkin for the last couple of weeks.

Manager Joe Girardi has been getting praise for his team’s tenacious success, with early talk of Manager of the Year honors. This is as premature as most things around the one-third mark of the season, and it also conceals a vital difference from Stengel in 1949. Casey had roster room: he could platoon in the outfield and keep swapping in first basemen as the previous ones went cold.

Currently, Girardi has 13 pitchers on the team and 12 position players. That’s exactly three spare players, one of them the backup catcher. It’s tough to mix and match when you have five infielders and four outfielders. Girardi does not have the pieces to manipulate that Stengel did. Credit for keeping the Yankees afloat, if they stay afloat, accrues more to the front office than the man in the dugout. And this is the front office that kept Ben Francisco around for almost two months.

There’s a long argument to be had here, for those inclined, about whether bullpen inflation is choking off the rest of the game, erasing managers’ ability to make the little strategic moves with their position players that Stengel did throughout the long battles of 1949.

Merely stating the matter probably uncovers my opinion about it, so I’ll briefly use my soapbox to make, not a diatribe, but one statement. I think the game loses something when a manager’s opportunity to jockey for wins by using his wits is marginalized, and adding opportunity in the bullpen doesn’t compensate for subtracting it on the field.

To sum up the comparison, the 2013 Yankees aren’t doing it the way Casey’s 1949 Yankees did. They have the bullpen strength to match (and to spare), but the front-line pitchers aren’t quite on the same level yet. More, Girardi can’t use his position players situationally the way Stengel did, mainly because nobody in the current era has that flexibility.

This means that, if today’s Yankees are to overcome all their adversity, they are going to have to find some different methods. And they have one that beats the ’49 crew. Instead of their team’s iron man being a light-hitting shortstop, it is Robinson Cano, the closest thing they have to Joe DiMaggio. That has to help.

But if Robbie goes down—Oy vey!

References & Resources
Baseball-Reference
Retrosheet
Online archives of The New York Times and The Sporting News
Cecilia Tan, The 50 Greatest Yankee Games
Marty Appel, Pinstripe Empire
Pinstriped Bible
SI.com for the 2013 injury rundown
And a special hat-tip to Paul Golba for knowing where to find the stuff I needed right when I needed it.

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Comments

  1. Carl said...

    Your comment about the yankees having 2 AAA teams piqued my interest and prompted this question:

    Can a team have 2 AAA teams now or is there a rule against it?

  2. Kenneth Matinale said...

    You want some “strategery”, allow “free” substitution within the batting order, i.e., Cano can only bat in one spot but Haffner can bat for the catcher.

    Also, replace the DH with a DF, designated fielder; only eight batters.

  3. starkweather said...

    Wow, this is a great read. I’m a fan of this saying: “The perversity of the universe truly is infinite”

  4. Paul G. said...

    There are several ways to free up more bench space on the roster.  The most obvious is to expand the rosters to 27 or something like that.  Presumably managers would not see this as an opportunity to carry 15 pitchers… no one tell Tony LaRussa, OK?  A modified version would allow a team to carry X number of players but only 25 can be active for any game.  The typical reason why a team is carrying 13 pitchers is several are unavailable at any given time (tired) so it could work.

    Though actually the best way to do this is find a manager who succeeds consistently with 10-11 pitchers.  The huge bullpen obsession is a product of LaRussa’s success with oversized bullpens combined with the short-sighted idea of only using relievers, especially ace relievers, for one inning or less.  This is not optimal.  You keep taking away innings from your best and giving them to replacement players.  I’m not saying this strategy does not work for certain teams, but on the whole I suspect it works well for a minority that can get a lot of bullpen talent and strands the rest of the squads to try to pull this off with pitchers who really should be in the minors.  Bring back the long-reliever!

  5. Paul G. said...

    For the record, while we were encircling West Virginia on our baseball tour, Shane and I listened to the radio recording of the pivotable 1949 Yankees/Red Sox final game.  It is available free online.  The recording is horribly garbled in places forcing some later editor to break in and describe the plays that you cannot hear from the original announcers, but it is moving nonetheless.  It is worth it just for the post-game, during which the announcer makes the effort to interview just about everyone including the entire Yankees roster, the Yankees front office, the gathered newspaper media, and random family members of the above.  And there is singing.

  6. Shane Tourtellotte said...

    Jeff:  The link’s been given here a couple of times—it’s how I got the games in the first place—but you can find that game and some others here.

    The copy of the very first game of the 1962 Mets, fittingly, cuts off about midway through.  Nothing went right for them, did it?

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