BRAVES FIELD, September 29--There is a saying around Ebbets Field that if it isn't raining hard enough to make the ink run on Dodger tickets, then the game cannot he called. So, bolstered by many years of mudding for dear old Rickey, the Brooklyn entry wandered out into nor easter weather today and waded to a double victory over the complacent Braves.
For the Brooks it was a running battle against scattered showers as the Cooney crowd offered but token opposition, taking up every half-inning with pop-fly drills and slowing the proceedings to a dusky finish at 5:03 p.m., or two minutes before the sun was scheduled to set. Nevertheless, the sun had little or nothing to do with the happenings of the day.
Brooklyn, which as a rule has trouble finishing a game in less than three hours, was faced with the bizarre problem of starting a second game at 3:42 and trying to sneak in five innings before rain and darkness reduced the playing field to a London for scene. Had the Flock lost, it would have been the first time a game was lost by three minutes. Apparently it really started pouring immediately after the fifth inning, for a seeing eye dog from plate umpire Al Barlick reported to the press box with the intelligence that the game was hereby called.
The Old Flannelmouth
There will undoubtedly be much sniveling in the eminently fair Boston press today to the effect that the game should have been called in about the third inning. In this I cannot concur. Once the three umpires had decided that the weather was not bad enough to call the second game, they had no reason to call it after it got under way, and the Braves found themselves eight runs behind.
As far as I could tell, the weather did not turn suddenly worse in the third inning; it just got slowly darker until by 5:15 you could see virtually nothing. Once the game started, the umpires also had a sort of moral obligation to continue play. They felt five innings could be played, and they were right.
Old Barney Shotton did his darndest to help the umpires out. He had his boys storming out of the dugout San Juan Hill style and once had his batter ready to hit before the Boston pitcher had even picked up the ball. On the field Captain Reese seized the ball at the conclusion of each play and presented it immediately to pitcher Newcombe, depriving the Dodger infielders of those happy interludes of flinging the ball at each other's heads which they enjoy so much.
Art for Time's Sake
In fact, Barney's boys only made one mistake. In the top half of the fourth Barlick was forced to stroll over to the Dodger dugout to ask Gene Hermanski if he would kindly shut his yap. Mr. Hermanski attributed his blasphemous outburst to a fit of boyish enthusiasm and respectfully complied.
But the Braves couldn't quite get the idea. They happily, milled around, made copious use of the rosin bag, and moved to their positions with the speed and agility of arthritis sufferers. Cooney used three pitchers, though after the second inning the Brooks did their level best to strike, ground or pop out.
There is an obscure baseball rule that no batter may deliberately make an out, so the Dodger hitters all assumed peculiar chop swings. Roy Campanella, who has not hit a ball on the ground since Bill Cunningham denounced the Red Sox, suddenly bounced to third. After Antonelli walked six foot five inches Newcombe on a series of high outside pitches, Reese proceeded to deliberately hit the most beautiful double play ball to shortstop Ryan that could be imagined, a soft line drive on one bounce.
But Sibi Sisti couldn't be denied. His artistic soul crushed by such artful subterfuge, he took the force throw and didn't toss to first. Something about it getting stuck in his glove.
In the last of the fifth, the Braves put on a concentrated campaign of delay. The Troubadours started it off by playing "Night and Day." Connie Ryan came on deck wearing a raincoat, evidently to imply that it was raining rather heavily on the field. Barlick permitted him to leave the field at a minimum cost of $25.
Shortly thereafter the Braves lit a small bonfire on the dugout steps and huddled around it warming their digits. Umpire Barlick chose to ignore this. The Braves even went so far as to get two base hits off Newcombe before they relapsed to form and struck out one, two, three.
All of which leaves Barney Shotten a double winner: He returned his team to first place, and at the same time arranged matters so that Joe Hatten, Rex Barney, Ralph Branca, Preacher Roe, and Big Newcombe--his top pitchers--will be available for weekend service in the City of Brotherly Love.