It was great to be on another planet for Game Three. Open fields, open sky, Wisconsin-nice people, and a ballgame for the ages that reminded me why the sport is one of the two best things on Earth.
First I had to manuever my way through the vast, sweet-smelling parking lot. I’d become a minor celebrity in these parts, and ten different “tail-gating” groups tried to rope me into parties behind their open station wagons. I picked the one that offered me an extra grandstand seat and served me an early lunch from a “brat tub”. This was just what it sounds like: an army of Usinger’s bratwurst simmered in Blatz beer and onions.
Braves fans were ecstatic to be back in the Series, unplussed about having their headresses handed to them two days ago. “I sold Joe Adcock new whitewalls at my shop last week,” said Freddy Skiba, “The man had a rough year with the stick but he still gave me a five dollar tip. How can you not root for a fella like that?”
Two brats, too many onions and a few bottles of Schlitz later, I waddled with my new friends into County Stadium a few minutes late. It was a godsend. I missed Siebern opening the game with a slice double to left which Covington—naturally—kicked into the corner. An Elston Howard single one out later put Joey Jay behind 1-0 and made the crisp October air a little icy. The crowd never got down though, tooting horns, waving plastic tomahawks, urging on their heroes as pleasantly loud as they could muster.
The Braves responded to this in the 2nd. Crandall walked, Roach singled him to third. Crandall was nailed at the plate on a Logan grounder, but a ball got past Berra to advance the runners and Jay hit a sac fly to tie it up.
Big fat deal, said Mickey Mantle, who turned around some Canadian air with a solo missle last seen heading for Lake Michigan. My rowmates squirmed, got a bit quieter. The Braves had put runners aboard each of the first six frames off Larsen, but managed only one run. After freshly-whitewalled Adcock pinch-hit for Jay and grounded out to end the 6th, Larsen then smacked a homer to left to begin the 7th. Winter was truly coming.
The seventh-inning stretch featured a fun group sing-along to a small polka band atop the Milwaukee dugout. It seemed to lift everyone’s spirits. Bruton singled with one out. Covington lined a single to get him to third, but Wes pulled his fourth bonehead play of the Series, rounding first too wide and getting tagged out by Skowron. Groans and maybe a boo or two filled the air, but Aaron singled in Bruton and it was 3-2. Stengel replaced Larsen with his favorite set-up reliever, Virgil Trucks.
Here was Eddie Mathews now, saddled with a low batting mark but always capable of a big hit, like his Opening Day homer to beat Roy Face and the Pirates. Eddie looked at a few pitches, then swung.
The ball was clean out of the yard before we even reached our feet. 4-3 Braves! A half dozen of my new pals rubbed my head. One stuck a headress on it. I warned them that my good luck charm deal with the Giants never paid off, and sure enough, Yogi clubbed a homer to tie it again in the 8th.
Humberto Robinson was pitching now, and put us through the ringer. After Aaron and Mathews stranded two more runners to end the 8th, Enos Slaughter pinch-hit a triple to begin the 9th that dropped two inches fair. Haney brought the infield in. Robinson bore down, got Siebern on a grounder, whiffed Carey and Howard grounded out to end the threat. Ryne Duren mowed the Braves down in the last of the 9th, so extra innings happened.
Mantle, Berra, and Skowron went out 1-2-3, and Milwaukee was forced to hit for Robinson. Adcock had already been used, Pafko was in left field for Butterfingers Covington, so up stepped Harry Hanebrink. Yes fans, Harry Hanebrink. Maybe ten at bats all season. He bounced the first pitch he saw out to McDougald at second, but the frigid air put a spell on Gil’s grip, and his throw sailed into the first base boxes for a two-base error!
Torre, 0-for-5 on the day and 1-for-13 in the Series, singled him over to third. The place became a nice, pleasant asylum. Billy Bruton dug in. He had singled his last three times up. Everyone was standing. Duren looked in…stretched…threw…
And Bruton ripped a liner into center for the ballgame! Schlitz showers for over thirty thousand! I glanced up at the press box while I got wet, imagining that Liz was having a lot less fun. But I’m sure she was cheering inside.
Game Three Final:
NYY 100 100 110 0 – 4 9 1
MLW 010 000 300 1 – 5 15 3
W-Robinson L-Duren HRS: Mantle, Larsen, Berra, Mathews GWRBI-Bruton
Yankees lead series, 2-1
Game Four coming tomorrow, with Ford vs. Willey, but at least for tonight, it’s party time in Wisconsin for guys and gals!