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Jackie's Greatest Play
2004-03-17 09:03
by Jon Weisman, the superb historical website, announced updated features today, including a search function, 360-degree views of memorabilia and classic moments for the Dodgers in the sports pages. Here's the Times covering the Dodgers Game 7 victory in the 1965 World Series, with a great subhead, "Alston Leans to Left and Koufax Proves He's Right," and sidebar, "Lament of a Loser: 'Koufax Good, but Dodgers Kind of Lucky, Says Zolio Versalles." (I do wish you could blow up the pages to make the articles easier to read, though.)

What caught my eye most of all today was an in-depth interview with Don Newcombe on the 1951 season, in particular the 1951 must-win regular season finale, in particular particular, an entire page devoted to Jackie Robinson's greatest defensive play.

Tied in the standings with the Giants, who were defeating the Boston Braves, the Dodgers fell behind the Phillies, 4-0 in the second and 6-1 in the third. They rallied to 6-5, only to trail, 8-5, in the 8th. A pinch-hit, two-run double by Rube Walker made it 8-7, at which point Newcombe got himself ready to pitch in relief, even though he had thrown a shutout the day before. Furillo then singled home Walker to tie the game.

Newcombe shut out the Phillies in the 9th, 10th and 11th innings. In the 12th, the Phillies loaded the bases with two out. As New York Daily News sportswriter Dick Young wrote:

Eddie Waitkus shot a low, slightly looped liner to the right of second. It seemed ticketed for the hole, labeled Hit..... Game....Pennant.....But Robby diving face-first speared the ball an instant before he hit the ground. As he struck, his elbow dug into his stomach and he lay there in a crumpled heap. Many fans failed to realize he had held the ball until, in his pain, Robby rolled on his side and flipped the pill clear.

And here he lay, for several minutes, while trainer Harold Wendler administered to him, trying to restore Jack’s breath, and clear his dazed head. Finally Robby wobbled to his feet and walked off the field to an ovation....

Robinson won the game in the bottom of the 14th inning with a home run.

I've barely communicated the depth that has to offer. Believe me, it's more compelling than anything you can read about the present-day team.

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