Baseball: 1954 World Series, Game One “The Catch” (Mutual, 1954)
Top of the eighth, Game One, 1954 World Series. The Polo Grounds, New York. First and second and nobody out for the Cleveland Indians, after New York Giants starter Sal (The Barber) Maglie walks future Hall of Famer Larry Doby and surrenders a single to former Triple Crown-winning third baseman Al Rosen.
After Don Liddle relieves Maglie for the Giants, Indians outfielder Vic Wertz launches a 2-1 pitch on a rising line toward the rear end of the Polo Grounds’ famous, cavernous straightaway center field, the ball traveling on a slight angle toward the high fence in front of the bleachers, to the right of the park’s once-famous elevated clubhouse above pure straightaway center.
The scrambling Giants center fielder with number 24 on his back runs down the drive, which threatened to become a two-run triple at minimum, an inside-the-park three-run homer at worst. He hauls the ball down, over his shoulders, at the warning track, never leaving his feet, although some photographic angles will come to suggest he went at least partially airborne to get the ball.
Then, he wheels and fires a perfect strike back to the infield, keeping Doby from advancing past third and giving Liddle’s reliever, Marv Grissom, a chance to set the Indians down and keep the game set for what would prove the winner, Dusty Rhodes’s pinch-hit walkoff bomb, bottom of the tenth, launching the Giants toward an improbably sweep of the 111-game-winning Indians.
Willie Mays has knocked on immortality’s door before; he was the rookie on deck when Bobby Thomson hit “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World,” the pennant-winning home run in 1951. Now he hasn’t just knocked on its door, he’s walked through it. Following a sterling regular season after his return from military service, The Catch begins Mays’s graduation from comer to superstar.
And some will continue calling this the greatest World Series play of all time, decades after th Giants leave New York and Willie Mays is elected to the Hall of Fame.
Warning: Muddy sound. Announcer: Jimmy Dudley.
FURTHER CHANNEL SURFING . . .
Fibber McGee & Molly: Back from Vacation (NBC, 1942)—And, the first order of business for the freshly-returned first couple of Wistful Vista (Jim and Marian Jordan)? Retrieve the camera Fibber inadvertently left on the train . . . assuming they can negotiate with the Old-Timer (Bill Thompson), a chatty lost-and-found director, a fuming Mayor LaTrivia (Gale Gordon), a pestiferous Teeny (also Marian Jordan), and a customarily wife-bedeviled Wimpole (also Thompson). Announcer: Harlow Wilcox. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra. Writer: Don Quinn.
It Pays to Be Ignorant: Why Do Some People Eat with Their Knives? (CBS; Armed Forces Radio Service Rebroadcast, 1944)—That’s just one of the cutting questions before the panel of ill refute. Brooklyn Dodgers manager Leo Durocher guest stars. Host: Tom Howard. Panel: Harry McNaughton, George Shelton, Lulu McConnell. Announcer: Ken Roberts. Music: Doc Novick. Director: Herb Polesie. Writers: Bob and Ruth Howell.
The Great Gildersleeve: Name the Baby Contest (NBC, 1948)—At Hooker’s (Earle Ross) urging, and if only for insurance purposes for now, Gildersleeve (Harold Peary) needs to name the mystery baby who landed in his car, somehow, a few weeks earlier, but some of the name suggestions coming from the family may be what he doesn’t necessarily need. Birdie: Lillian Randolph. Marjorie: Marylee Robb. Leroy: Walter Tetley. Peavey: Richard LeGrand. Floyd the Barber: Arthur Q. Bryan. Adeline: Una Merkel. Chief Gates: Ken Christy. Announcer: John Wald. Music: Jack Meakin. Director: Frank Pittman. Writers: Possibly John Whedon and Sam Moore.
Bob & Ray Present the CBS Radio Network: Wally Ballou in a Bathysphere (You have to ask? 1959)—The intrepidly non-intrepid reporter (Bob Elliott) covers the opening of oyster season from a bathysphere at the bottom of Oyster Bay. Also: an interview with the Mayor of Moose Gap as his burg is named an Honour City; and, the duo present the fruits of a tape-recording experiment. Writers, reputedly: Bob Elliott, Ray Goulding.