New Articles This Week at The National Pastime Museum
In his baseball career spanning almost 50 years, Leo Durocher didn’t always walk the walk, but there isn’t a scintilla of doubt that he could talk the talk. A small, slick-fielding shortstop, he broke in with the Yankees in 1925 for two at-bats and a cup of coffee. He spent the next few years in the minors before joining Murderers Row in 1928. His fiery personality, scrappy play, and benchjockeying prowess compensated for his light hitting.
I’m only half-kidding when I say I’ve been covering baseball since the Paleozoic Age; it just feels that way sometimes. Nevertheless, decades of my professional life have been spent in the press box, which makes historical comparisons credible, if not easy. So when I’m asked about the best postseason run I’ve ever covered, I draw on an archive that includes the ’86 New York Mets, the ’91 Minnesota Twins, the ’96 New York Yankees, and the ’04 Boston Red Sox.
Not much was expected of the San Francisco Giants when the San Francisco Examiner assigned me to cover them in 1987. Only two years before, the ball club had lost a hundred games. In the previous season, new manager Roger Craig had led the team to an 83–79 record, but that was still good for only third place in the National League West.
Both teams dominated their respective leagues in the regular season—the White Sox by nine games and the Giants by 10 games. The World Series opened at Chicago’s Comiskey Park on Saturday, October 6. The pitchers were knuckleballer Eddie Cicotte for Chicago and Slim Sallee for New York, though as was often the custom at the time, the identities of the starters were kept secret as long as possible.
Miller Huggins is widely regarded as one of baseball’s greatest managers. A 1964 Hall of Fame inductee, he managed the Yankees to six American League pennants and to the 1923, 1927, and 1928 World Series championships. During his 12-season tenure in New York, Huggins-led Yankees teams won nearly 60 percent of their games, and only once finished out of the first division. A lifelong bachelor and tireless worker, Huggins’s great advantage was the single-mindedness with which he prepared both himself and his team.