2017-10-12 / Sports

Pennant races were easier in the 50s

By LAMAR GARRARD baseball historian

“The greatest feeling in the world is to win a major league game. The next greatest feeling in the world is to lose a major league game.” – Chuck Tanner, former big league player and manager.

The baseball pennant races are moving forward and some could be in the next bracket by the time you read this article. As I am writing this, there are still eight teams in the hunt with the four in American League featuring Boston, New York, Cleveland, and Houston. On the National League side we have Los Angeles, Arizona, Chicago, and Washington.

We will have to wait for the World Series as it does not begin until October 24. If the series goes the full seven games, the last game could be in November! Fans who love base- ball and football are in sports fans heaven, so to speak, as there are so many choices of baseball or football to watch.

Times have changed for those of us growing up in the 1950s when baseball in October was the highlight of every newscast, both televi- sion and radio and of course all the newspapers and magazines. Not so today as there are too many diver- sions and too much entertainment competing for the fans’ time and money.

You might not believe that when I was in school from elementary through high school the principals would have the World Series radio broadcast live on the school’s loudspeaker system. Yep, you read that right. For maybe one period out of the day, usually early afternoon after lunch period, the game would be heard boldly in each classroom. Most of the World Series games back then were played in the daytime.

With only 16 teams, eight in the National and eight in the American League there were no wild card place pennant winners in each league would face off in the World Series. In the 50s and early 60s you could pretty much count on the Yankees winning the American League. Sev- eral times they faced the Dodgers. The Brooklyn Dodger team of 1955 is the only Brooklyn team to beat the Yankees in a World Series and capture the crown. A shout out for this prize goes to Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese and the rest of the “bums” as they were known back then.

Boy, how easy it was to have the two pennant winners go right to the World Series without all the hype and commercialization and playoff monies associated with today’s system.

One thing to look out for in this year’s series is dominant pitching and tremendous hitting from all corners. Most of this year’s playoff teams are well balanced and ready to play a very competitive World Series. The best team on paper may not always win either. Just ask the 1960s New York Yankees who were heavily favored to beat the Pirates, but lost it on one swing of Bill Mazeroski’s bat.

This year could bring us a another surprise dark horse champion. Someone from Houston just said amen!

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