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Shell Shocked: Baseball rage

By ART STEVENS - | Feb 16, 2021

PHOTO PROVIDED Art Stevens

It started innocently enough. Two friends having a friendly conversation. They were talking baseball trivia.

Friend one: Do you remember the Giants-Dodgers play off game in 1951 when Bobby Thomson hit the home run that won the game and sent the Giants to the World Series?

Friend two: How could I remember it? I hadn’t even been born in 1951. But I do remember reading about it though. I read that the ball barely made its way into the stands, that it was a cheap home run hit in a tiny ballpark.

Fr1: Get ouda here. That ball was hit more than 500 feet. It was one of the longest balls ever hit in major league baseball.

Fr2: How would you know that? You weren’t even born yet either.

Fr1: I’ve seen old newsreel clips showing the home run. You knew it was gone the moment it left the bat. It was preordained.

Fr2: Preordained? You mean like God made it happen?

Fr1: I’m not talking religion. You just knew it. I’ve read a lot about that home run. Everyone in the stadium had a premonition. That home run was the result of all the energy in the stadium converging on Thomson’s bat. He couldn’t miss. It was a foregone conclusion.

Fr2: And I keep telling you that it was a cheap shot. The ball barely made it to the left field seats. It would have been an out in any other ballpark. The Giants were mighty lucky, I’ll tell you. In any other ballpark Thomson would have been the goat for making the last out, not the hero he became. That’s why they say baseball is a game of inches.

Fr1: Inches? That ball was hit 500 feet I tell you. It had all the energy of the Giants fans there that day. Thomson was merely the instrument of their energy.

Fr2: You don’t know anything about baseball if you say that ball was hit that far. Thomson was no power hitter. He was just an average player. I’ll bet he didn’t have more than twenty home runs that entire season.

Fr1: Nonsense. He was the Giants leading hitter and hit a ton of home runs.

Fr2: I say that he didn’t hit more than twenty.

Fr1: And I say that he hit at least thirty.

Fr2. Ten dollars says I’m right.

Fr1: I’ll match you and bet another twenty that says I’m right.

Fr2: Okay, thirty bucks it is. Now let’s look it up in Wikipedia.

Fr1: Well I just looked it up. He hit 32 home runs in 1951. Show me the money.

Fr2: Not so fast. How do you know Wikipedia is right? I’m told that it makes a lot of mistakes.

Fr1: Are you trying to cheat me? Everyone knows that Wikipedia always has accurate facts and information. You can’t get away that easily. You owe me thirty bucks.

Fr2: I want to get another opinion. I want to call Sports Illustrated to check on this. But I’m going on a trip tomorrow, so I’ll have to do it in about a month when I get back.

Fr1: And you expect me to wait a month for the thirty bucks you owe me. Fork it over.

Whereupon Friend one tried to separate Friend two’s wallet from his trouser pocket and Friend two shoved Friend one. The two started pushing each other and called each other all kinds of names.

At this point a police officer who was walking his beat saw the fracas and separated the two men.

Police officer: Hey there, you two, just stop it right there or I’ll take you both in. What’s this all about?

Friend one: I bet him that Bobby Thomson hit more than thirty home runs in 1951. He said Thomson hit no more than twenty — and I won. Now he refuses to pay me.

Police officer: That wasn’t Bobby Thomson who hit that home run. It was Babe Ruth and he hit ninety home runs that year.

The spell was broken. The two friends dusted each other off and walked arm in arm toward the nearest bar.