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A baseball fix

Posted by Bob Ryan, Globe Staff  July 19, 2007 01:15 PM

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You say you're a baseball fan? OK, if you're heading to New York City any time soon, have I got a deal for you.

You need to take yourself (and your baseball-loving offspring) to the Museum of the City of New York at 5th Avenue and 103d Street. You need to see an exhibit titled "The Glory Days: New York Baseball from 1947-57." (Click here for hours of operation and admission fees)

This was the true Golden Era of major league baseball in New York. During those 11 seasons, there was a World Series involving one of the three New York teams every year but one (1948, which featured the Indians and our Boston Braves). There were so-called "Subway Series" involving two New York teams in 1947, 1949, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1955, and 1956.

The Yankees were at the height of their imperial glory, winning it all in 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, and 1956. They remain the only team to have won five consecutive World Series. It was sometime in this era when it was noted that "rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for General Motors."

No one ever said that about the Giants, although there once was a time when they were the favored team of the New York elite. John McGraw's Giants were the first face of New York baseball. The Yankees were, in fact, humble tenants of the Giants in the Polo Grounds until they constructed Yankee Stadium in time for the 1923 season.

And surely no one ever said that about the Dodgers, who fully embraced their "outsider" status, vis a vis the haughty citizens of Manhattan. The Dodgers were more like the local high school team than the Brooklyn National League representative. Almost every player lived in someone's neighborhood. Ebbets Field itself was like a second (albeit battered and disheveled) summer home. And it was in everyone's DNA to hate the Giants. No one wasted any energy hating the Yankees until the World Series. The 22 games with the Giants were the mini-Armageddons.

You will see the predictable uniforms, bats, cleats, hats, gloves, etc. of the predictable icons. You will see the predictable memorabilia. They're all fine. An actual Willie Mays glove should make those little hairs at the base of your neck stand at attention. But those weren't the big things for me.

You will hear, for example, not just the well-known Russ Hodges call of Bobby Thomson's legendary home run, but also the seldom-heard Red Barber call of that same blow. It's hard to imagine two more contrasting approaches to the same situation.

Even better is a glorious opportunity to see a famous World Series incident --- Billy Martin's game-saving catch of a wind-blown Jackie Robinson pop fly in Game 7 of the 1952 Series --- and Mel Allen's complete on-air call of the lengthy at-bat.

I would likewise put as priceless the excerpts from various "Ed Sullivan Shows" in which the famed host, a huge baseball fan, interviews the likes of Sal Maglie, Allie Reynolds, Eddie Stanky, Phil Rizzuto and a bow-tied Bobby Thomson. I also loved substitute host Phil ("Sergeant Bilko") Silvers's interview with Mickey Mantle.

But I'm not sure even these wonderful video snippets top the astonishing correspondence on display. Here, for example, we have Pee Wee Reese writing Dodgers general manager Buzzy Bavasi following the 1951 season detailing why he should be given a raise to $30,000. And we have Buzzy's reply, which wonders aloud what happened to Pee Wee during the final seven weeks of the season. No 30 grand for you, Pee Wee.

There is, of course, lots on Jackie Robinson. I mean, duh.

You need to see this. Your kids need to see this. It runs, fortunately, until Dec. 31. Make plans now.

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About bob ryan's blog Opinions, observations and anecdotes from Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan.
Bob is an award-winning columnist for the Globe and the host of "Globe 10.0" on Boston.com.

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