In the My Dream Game series, writers select a game that they wished they could have attended.
I’ve been following this site’s “My Dream Game” series with great interest, because it’s a question I’ve long considered: “If I could hop in a time machine and see a baseball game, any game at all, which one would I see?”
My colleagues here have come up with some outstanding candidates; in fact, some of their choices have been on my list over the years. Ultimately, though, I’m looking for something I can’t otherwise see, or imagine, really, in any great detail.
When the ball left the bat, Bob Gibson turned to follow its flight. His first reaction? Cardinals center fielder Curt Flood would catch it.
The Tigers’ Jim Northrup, who had tagged the fastball, took a glance skyward too. Maybe it would drop, he thought.
In the 1989 movie Field of Dreams, young Archie Graham (played by Frank Whaley) excitedly lists off the names of some all-time greats standing on a baseball diamond carved out of an Iowa cornfield. “Hey, that’s Smoky Joe Wood. And Mel Ott. And Gil Hodges!” he says of the ghostly ballplayers who would soon become his teammates and opponents in a mythical game captained by “Shoeless Joe” Jackson.
The National Pastime Museum recently asked its contributors: If you could go back in time, what baseball game would you most have liked to have attended in person?
I put some serious thought into the question. I decided it would have to be a game involving George Herman Ruth.
It’s hard for a perfect game to get overshadowed. For many years, newspaper editors have been known to rip up their front pages and make room for a no-hitter on the other side of the country. But on October 2, 1908, in the midst of a thrilling pennant race that captivated the country like never before, Addie Joss’s historic performance against the Chicago White Sox wasn’t the most important baseball story of the afternoon. You could even make a case that he wasn’t the most dominant pitcher that day at Cleveland’s League Park.
“Everything ends badly, otherwise it wouldn’t end.”
Mired in seventh place in the eight-team National League and suffering at the gate, Brooklyn’s enterprising General Manager Larry MacPhail staged this game to fill empty seats. It was the first night game ever played in the New York area and only the second Major League park rigged with towers and floodlights. The first had been in Cincinnati at Crosley Field in 1936, which MacPhail accomplished before coming to Brooklyn.
One baseball game across the ages? 1947 World Series, Game 4.
Here’s the pageant: postwar New York City. Almost everyone is home now after cycling out of the military in ’45 and ’46, back from Anzio and Monte Cassino, back from Guadalcanal and Corregidor, out of the B-17s and 24s, off the PT boats and destroyers. Out of the subs.
It is a question that just about every baseball fan has thought about now and then: “If I could go back in time, which game would I most like to be a part of as a spectator?”
For most of us, there may not be one definitive answer. There are simply too many great games to choose from. But it remains an intriguing question.