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This SABR'd Isle
SABR UK Examiner - Examiner #13 - Autumn 2003
Written by Martin Hoerchner   

A while back I saw something on TV that made my mouth drop down in disbelief and my blood pressure rise in horror. No, it wasn’t the sixth game of the [2002] World Series. More about that later. It was an episode of the Steven Spielberg mini-series “Taken”, which is about alien abduction.

This episode took place in 1962, and in the background of a very dramatic scene, was a radio playing Game 7 of the World Series. It was the bottom of the ninth, two out, the Giants were trailing by a run, Willie Mays was on second, Matty Alou was on third, and Willie McCovey was at bat. Ralph Terry was pitching for the Yankees – the same pitcher that had given up the series-ending home run by Bill Mazeroski two years earlier. 1962 was a year that the Giants had to defeat the Dodgers in a three-game post-season series, just like 1951, except they were both on the west coast now.

The Spielberg series on TV was in the middle of a very dramatic scene, life and death type of thing, but I didn’t hear a word they were saying. My ears were glued on the radio commentary. This was maybe the closest World Series ever, and it would end in Yankee victory and Giants defeat. If McCovey had hit a single he would have won the game. But he lined out to shortstop Bobby Richardson. If the ball had been hit a few feet to one side, the Giants win. But it was not to be. That small radio clip brought a whole wave of sad memories and disappointment back to me – thanks a lot, Steve!

However, that was not the heart-stopper. What really shocked me was the attribution in the end credits, stating something like “World Series radio compliments of Major League Baseball, New York Yankees vs. New York Giants 1962”. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! Especially in a production associated with Mr. Spielberg, who is synonymous with quality in film. So didn’t he know that in 1962 the Giants were spending their fifth year in San Francisco?

So I got this idea that I should write my Senator and propose a new law, that any copyrightable work (book, radio program, TV show, film, etc.) – if they have a reference to baseball more than 40 years in the past – should have a SABR member on staff as technical advisor. I think we can get this law passed and it might mean work for some of us!

When I talked about the bad memories that came flooding back, of course I was talking about the 1912, 1917, and 1924 World Series, which share with 1962 as being the closest MLB championships ever. All were lost by the Giants in sudden death in the seventh game due to incredibly fluky circumstances.

Game 7 (actually 8, because of an earlier tie) of the 1912 World Series took place in Fenway Park, in its first year, with Giants legend Christy Matthewson pitching in relief in the bottom of the tenth inning. A series of really strange happenings, including Snodgrass’ muff and an easy popup that went unfielded, gave the Red Sox final victory in the bottom of the 10th inning.

Game 7 of the 1917 World Series is known for “Heinie’s dash”. The White Sox won their last Series in a fluky play in Game 7 in which they had a runner at third and the catcher had gone off to cover another play. With the plate unguarded, the runner bolted for home, with Heinie Zimmerman, the Giants third baseman, running after him with the ball comically extended in his outstretched fingers.

Game 7 of the 1924 World Series was won by the Washington Senators (their first and only), after an easy ground out hit a pebble and bounced over the head of the Giants shortstop (future Hall of Famer), not once but twice, and the Giants catcher, fielding an easy popup, tripped over his mask that he had thrown down earlier and let the ball roll away harmlessly. One of the Senators later suggested that God had played a hand, to let a fine fellow like Walter Johnson finally win a World Series ring.

Those of you who know me, know that everything I’ve written so far is about the 2002 World Series. After the eighth inning of Game 6, I knew the Giants would fulfil their destiny and lose another World Series. The Giants have won a few – five in total, not counting 1888 and 1889 – but have lost 12, which ties the Yankees and Dodgers as being the most of any franchise, but with fewer wins. It was an exciting World Series, with the momentum shifting three times. After Game 5, the greatest single game World Series victory, I was on such a high, up until the eighth inning of Game 6. Then when things started unravelling, it all came into focus. I was horribly disappointed, but not horribly surprised. I knew the Giants were merely fulfilling their destiny.

Someday the hurt will ease, and I’ll be able to watch the videos. It was a great Series, with lots of great moments. I have to be proud that the Giants did as well as they did.

Still, you have to ask yourself who they traded in 1920 that cursed them so much.