Opening Day Article, 1957, from New York Times
New York Times Archives
April 15, 1947
SPORTS OF THE TIMES / By ARTHUR DALEY
The conversational part of the baseball season is at an end and for that we can't be too thankful! Starting this afternoon everyone will be playing for keeps as the major league season begins. Opening Day always is a distinctive occasion because it brings with it the culmination of months of ardent anticipation of those incorrigible optimists, the baseball fans. It is their enthusiastic response to the fundamental appeal of the sport which makes this such a event. There will be sell-outs or near sell-outs in all eight cities, including Cincinnati, which holds a rather unique spot in the diamond scheme of things. For some reason that never has been clearly explained the Reds always open at home. In fact, this one will be the sixty-thire, and the only exception to this unwritten rule came in 1877, when three days of rain compelled the Red Stockings to open, instead, in Louisville, which then was in the league. The loyal burghers from the American Rhineland never fail to pack the park even though there have been seasons when they never came close to filling it again for the rest of the year. The twin openings in our village will see the Yankees square off against the Athletics and the Dodgers face the Braves, while the Giants will have to wait until Friday for their formal unveiling at home. As you naturally might expect, the festivities today will find a Larry MacPhail production in direct conflict with a Branch Rickey production. They even battle for the headlines. At the moment, though, the Mahatma has the more-talked-about attraction. He has a ball club whose manager was whisked out from under him when Happy Chandler yanked the rug on Leo Durocher. And he also has a ball club whose new first baseman is making a bit of history. That young man is Jackie Robinson, the forst Negro in modern times to get a chance to become a big-leaguer.
Did you notice, by the way, the deft manner in which the Deacon of the dodgers brought up Robinson? He practically smuggled him in. Just as the excitement of the Durocher episode reached its apex, Rickey quietly announced that Jackie was being signed to a Dodger contract. Thus did he hope that the precedent-shattering implications of Robbie's promotions would be smothered by the publicity engendered by the Lip's suspension. It is merely an attempt to lighten the pressure on Robinson's shoulders. In like fashion the Mahatma waited until the Montreal Royals were in Panama before he ordered that Jackie be switched to first base. Yet nothing actually can lighten that pressure, and Robbie realizes it full well. There is no way of disguising the fact that he is not an ordinary rookie and no amount of pretense can make it otherwise. When you think back to the delicate way Marse Joe McCarthy handled his rookies, you can appreciate it all the more. Marse Joe would play them for a while and then let them absorb knowledge on the bench before inconspicuously inserting them back in the line-up when he knew they were ready. He did this with Joe Gordon, Charlie Keller, Phil Rizzuto, George Stirnweiss and virtually every freshman star he had except Jolting Joe DiMaggio. But Robinson almost has to be another DiMaggio in making good from the opening whistle. It's not fair to him, but no once can do anything about it but himself. Pioneers never had it easy and Robinson, perforce, is a pioneer. His spectacular season in the International League is no guarantee that he'll click just as sensationally in the Big Time. Too many minor-league phenomenons have failed for this to be a guide line. It's his burden to carry from now on and he must carry it alone.
Here at Last
At any rate, we have opening day here at last. It seems so far from such distant spots as Honolulu and Venezuela, the two farthest points in the peregrinations of wandering ballplayers. Spring training this year was so extraordinary that even the Miami team of the Florida International League went South for its tune-up chorea. That isn't as impossible as it firs sounds, either. The Miami operatives trained at Key West, which is really searching for southern exposure. The get-away day always is intriguing because it has contained everything at one time or another from that tender little pitching duel of 1925 when Cleveland nudged out St. Louis, 21 to 14, to the magnificent job Bobby Feller turned in on a chilly April day against the White Sox. All he did was hurl a no-hit, no-run game. Yet the old-timers still will insist that the greates opening-day exhibition of them all was the one Walter Johnson unfurled against the Athletics in 1926. He mound rival was Eddie Rommel, now an umpire, but then a knuckle-ball artist without a peer. They went in to the ninth scoreless. Then the Athletics had the winning run on third and two out when Goose Goslin make a saving circus catch of Al Simmons' tremendous belt to right center. In a similar situation in the twelfth, it was Sam rice who retired the side with another circus catch of Mickey Cochrane's mighty wallop to deepest center. Not until the fifteenth was that deadlock broken. Bucky Harris opened up with single and Goslin doubled him to third. Another Harris, Joe, stepped up to the plate and wasted no time. He lashed Rommel's first offering to center and thus did beloved Walter Johnson win, 1 to 0. Now we have anew season about to begin again. This should be the superduper one we expected last year but didn't get. And the nicest sound of the day will be the umpire's cry: "Play ball!"
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