Saturday, April 30, 2005


April 30th, 1944

Giants and Dodgers Play Doubleheader

This pair of games took place at the Polo Grounds, and the teams split them, although they could not have been more different. The first one was a Giants' triumph by a score of 26-8 and described by the next day's New York Times as "far and away one of the most bizarre exhibitions seen under the lee of Cogan's Bluff in many a revolving moon." (I've probably said this before, but it really is a shame sportswriters don't write like that anymore.) The second game was a hard fought battle--albeit one that only went seven innings on account of darkness--which featured the Dodgers breaking a 3-3 tie with two runs in the ninth, er, seventh only to see the Giants recover to score one in their turn at-bat but fall short of a comeback.

Although the Times' reporter might have been guilty of some hyperbole, the first game was a strange one. For a start, the opposing pitchers were cousins, Cliff (Giants) and Rube (Dodgers) Melton. For another, although the Giants' offensive outburst was in part from good hitting, every Giants' player save for Melton would get a hit. It was largely on account of the astounding wildness of the Dodgers' pitchers. The Dodgers gave up seventeen walks, including a rare display in the second inning when after a double by Johnny Rucker the Giants were issued six consecutive walks, the last four of which drove in runs. Both those "accomplishments" tied league records, as did Mel Ott's feat of walking the first five times he came to the plate. The hitting star for the Giants' was unquestionably Phil Weintraub however, who went four for five and missed the cycle only by its easiest part, having struck two doubles, a triple and home run.

If you indulge me a bit more with regards to the sportswriting, the description of Leo Durocher's ejection from the first game is just fantastic: "Leo the Lip, for a reason clear to no one, chose to pick a row in the sixth with all three of the umpires who simultaneously and with considerable enthusiasm waved him right off the premises." The last interesting thing about the first game of the double header is that despite featuring thirty-four runs, twenty-one walks and one ejection it took just two hours and fifty-eight minutes. These days if that game started on April 30th, it wouldn't end until Cinco de Mayo.

The second game lacked the explosiveness of the first one, and suffered from being cut off, but was nonetheless a decent battle. Both teams scored their first run in the third, and the Giants put another on the board in the fourth. The Dodgers came back with two in the fifth however, to take a 3-2 lead, but the Giants scored one in the sixth to tie the game. However, in the "gloaming of the seventh" (the Times once more) the Dodgers scored a pair and when the Giants were able to only muster one in the seventh and darkness set in, the game was ended, putting an end to an entertaining day of baseball witnessed by a crowd of 52,037.

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