By Tom Knight
Brooklyn Baseball Historian
It was 1946, the year the Brooklyn Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals finished tied for first place with 96 victories each. The Cards won the first playoff in history by taking the Dodgers in two games.
Baseball is a game of breaks, inches and sometimes even just plain luck. Twice during that season, the Cardinals won games because they couldn’t bunt!
On July 16, in a game against the Dodgers, the Cards were trailing 4-2 in the ninth inning. With runners on first and second, Manager Eddie Dyer sent outfielder Erv “Two Sack” Dusak up to pinch-hit with instructions to sacrifice. Dusak missed the first two pitches. The bunt was off, so Dusak took a swing and hit the ball over the fence for the old ball game!
Then in a game with the Giants at Sportsman’s Park on Aug. 28, the Cards were trailing, 2-1. Shortstop Marty Marion singled. This time Dyer sent up another reserve outfielder, Walter Sessi, to bunt Marion to second. Sessi made two attempts and missed. He then swung from the heels, hit the ball out of the park and chalked up another win for the Red Birds!
Sessi appeared as a pinch-hitter 14 times that season and had one other hit. If only these fellows could have lain down a bunt when instructed to do so, perhaps there would not have been a playoff at season’s end.
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June 10, 1892 — Orioles’ catcher Wilbert Robinson made seven hits in seven trips and batted in runs as Baltimore beat St. Louis, 25-7.
Oct. 27, 1890 — Chicken Wolf had three hits and three RBIs to lead Louisville (American Association) over the National League champion Brooklyn team, 9-8. The weather at the Brooklyn grounds (Washington Park) was so cold and blustery that only 300 people came out to see the contest. After one more game, the Series, all tied up at three games apiece, was called off because of cold weather.
May 15, 1919 — After 12 scoreless innings, Cincinnati broke through and scored 10 runs off Al Mamaux in the 13th to beat Brooklyn. Hod Eller won for the Reds, 10-0.
May 10, 1934 — Lou Gehrig played five innings before removing himself from the game because of illness. By that time, he had hit two homers and two doubles for seven RBIs against the Chicago White Sox.
May 25, 1935 — Babe Ruth, closing out his great career with the Boston Braves, hit three homers and a single at Pittsburgh, but Pirates won, 11-7. Guy Bush was the pitcher who gave up the Babe’s final two homers.
Aug. 26, 1939 — Major League Baseball was televised for the first time as the Dodgers and Reds split a twin bill at Ebbets Field. Bucky Walters was the winning pitcher in the opener and Hugh Casey won the nightcap.
Aug. 31, 1950 — Gil Hodges of the Dodgers hit four homers and a single and batted in nine runs in a 19-3 win over the Braves in Brooklyn.