TRAVESTY IN FLATBUSH

The decision was by the book but Milwaukee was done wrong
September 19, 1954

If New York wins the National League pennant by one game over Milwaukee, it will be a phony championship and the Giants will be cheese champions, through no fault of theirs. The Braves got jobbed last week because the men who own baseball haven't heard about weather.

Friday afternoon the Giants lost to Cincinnati and the Braves, playing at night in Ebbets Field, had a chance to cut New York's lead to three games. But Edna the hurricane was barging up the coast lashing rainstorms ahead of her. Rain delayed the start twenty-one minutes past the appointed hour of 8 o'clock. More rain fell from the second inning on. In the fourth inning it interrupted play for an hour and five minutes. In the Dodgers' half of the fifth with two runners on base, none out and Brooklyn leading, 2 to 1, a still heavier downpour drove everybody to cover.

It was 10:53 p.m. Under one of baseball's oldest rules the game was now official, four and a half innings having been completed with the home team ahead. Once a game starts, the responsibility of calling it off rests on the umpires. Umpires loathe responsibility. Larry Goetz, senior member of the working quartet, wasn't going to be accused of rash haste. He sat.

HOMELESS AND BRAVE

An hour went by. The rain poured. A few dozen fans, evidently homeless, remained in the stands. Midnight, 12:30, and now Goetz told reporters what he meant to do. A National League curfew forbids starting an inning after 12:50 a.m. A game ended by curfew is a "suspended game" which must be completed later. Promptly at 12:50 Frank Secory stood up and waved his mask, his colleagues arose and made flapping gestures. The game was off—completed or suspended? Nobody knew.

Buzzy Bavasi, Brooklyn vice president, telephoned Warren Giles, National League president, in Cincinnati. At 2:05 a.m. Giles ruled the game a complete, official victory for the Dodgers. Under the rules the decision was eminently correct, but the rules are eminently idiotic. A ball game is supposed to be a nine-inning contest. It is not supposed to be played in rain or hail or snow or on a wet field.

NO EAR FOR REASON

This was a travesty, a caricature of baseball in which an exciting pennant contender got to play only half a game under adverse conditions and lost by only one run. If it costs Milwaukee the championship, it will stand as a disgrace to all the men who have refused to listen to reason.

They have been refusing for years, the men who own baseball. For years Bill Corum has been reasoning with them in his column in the New York Journal-American. He has warned them that just such a messy situation as this could arise. He has implored them to take measures to avert it, and he has told them how. They don't listen.

Again and again Corum has pointed out how easy it would be to adjust the schedule so that a week's grace would be allowed after the regular season to play off important games that could not or should not be played on the dates scheduled.

This could be done without making the season longer than it is. This year's schedule allows 167 days for 154 games, many of them in double-headers. There is plenty of air in it. The schedule could easily be tightened to end a week earlier than it does.

If Milwaukee's players and fans lose the pennant because of that parody of baseball in Brooklyn, their indignation will be entirely justified. But none of them will ever get a hearing from the fatheads who own baseball.

ILLUSTRATION

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)