John Delach

On The Outside Looking In

Month: January, 2022

Buster’s Florida Vacation

This January is too long and too cold for my creative juices to keep flowing. Therefore, in an attempt to warm both your and my soul, I offer you an encore presentation of this piece that I first wrote in 2011 and revised in 2018. 

“Call me Buster.” I am a seven-year-old mixed breed part Chow / part Border Collie with brown and black hair. I have pointy ears that I can turn 180 degrees that would make me a lousy poker player as how I set my ears gives away my mood. Let me tell you about my first trip to Florida.

Before we left, I had my hair cut. This was not my idea as it was January during a cold, wet winter. When they did this to me. I thought that Mary Ann and John, the people I live with, were trying to kill me, but the next day we set out in their truck on a road trip that would take us to a special place, called Florida, where the weather is nice and warm in January.

I didn’t always live with them. A girl named Jodie, who I adored, adopted me from the North Shore Animal’s League’s shelter. She took me home to Connecticut. Later, she married their son, Michael. It was not a bad life until they had this kid. Didn’t like him, but food became more plentiful once he arrived. Then he became mobile and interested in me. A couple of bites later, it was goodbye Fairfield, and hello Port Washington, Long Island.

My life in this new home would have been much better if they didn’t already have Maggie living with them too. She arrived a year before I did, in 1999, another reject.

 She was thrown out of her home because she was a crazy ten-month-old Golden Retriever. Now five, she’s still nuts, and she’s a pain in my ass. Stupid Golden Retrievers think they are so special and this one thinks she is “The Supreme Being.” The fools I live with, especially, John, treat her that way.

You don’t believe me? She uses toys as props, rubber footballs, a rubber ring, a rope and especially tennis balls. She obsesses over her toys and God forbid, I borrow one, the bitch takes it away. Now toys are not a big deal for me, but fair is fair.

She also hogs the window in the back seat. She stands there waiting for them to open it, so she can put her stupid head out. And they do! God forbid, I go over to it. She growls and snarls. It got so bad on this trip that I said the hell with it and found a spot in the back of the truck. Mary Ann was nice enough to find a mat for me to lie on while “her majesty” had the entire soft seat to herself.

Spending eight hours in a truck every day for three days is not as bad as you think. It isn’t as though I had other things to do and we stopped often enough to stretch and relieve ourselves. Sleeping in those little boxy rooms was another matter altogether. There are too many strangers, each one a potential assassin. I was ready to stay up all night and let them know I was on alert, but John stupidly closed the curtains.

When we arrived at the house in Florida, I had to learn a few things the hard way. Glass sliding doors are not always open and what happens when I walk across the plastic cover on top of the swimming pool. My only pleasure was watching her majesty do the same thing.

Each morning we hopped in the truck for a short ride to the beach. As soon as we began to move, Maggie began to act up. Her ears flailed back making her look like a bolting horse. Her eyes blinked rapidly as her tongue moved in and out of her mouth at the same speed. She whimpered and cried. When she saw the water, the Loony Tune’s barking and crying became so high-pitched that it went right through me. It was all I could do not to bite her so she’d shut up. This cacophony ended only after John let her out of the truck. And this happened every morning!

The beach was great. Not many people, a few new dogs to meet and greet. Most of the time we ran free and I had a grand time cataloging new and different smells, rolling on dead creatures and playing in the surf. On the other hand, “nutsy Fagin” had to have something to chase and carry in her big mouth. Each morning, John found a different coconut that he would throw into the water. Maggie mindlessly chased them.

Her nuttiness gave me the idea that if I chased them too, that might drive her off the deep end. After I grabbed the coconut first a couple of times, she freaked out and started ripping it out of my mouth. After that I decided to back off and let her have it.

 John threw the coconut like a football, but its weight and the wind made some throws fall short. It was my fondest hope that sooner or later one would hit her on the head and kill her. (Imagine John having to call his kids to tell them what happened.)

Don’t get in an uproar, it didn’t happen. Actually, it was an excellent vacation with no mishaps after the first day. Neither of us went swimming in the bayou behind the house because the bottom was too muddy, and our instincts sensed danger. Good thing too because we found out alligators liked to swim there.

 We also avoided fleas and I had to smile because last year Maggie acquired fleas on the trip I missed.

So, you can put me down to recommending Florida as a good place to go to leave winter behind, but it would be much better to go there as an Only Dog.

Meet the Mets: Renewal of the National League in New York City

Part Four

A barren spring devoid of National League baseball descended upon the Metropolitan area from Brooklyn to Fairfield, CT, to Garrison, NY, to Fair Haven, N J and to Port Washington, Long Island. Loyal Dodger and Giant fans could no longer live in denial by refusing to believe that the baseball loves of their lives had deserted them for California. The Dodgers and the Giants had sold out and were gone,  baby, gone; never to return.

Los Angeles and San Francisco celebrated the arrival of major league baseball with pride and joy, grand  parades down Sunset Boulevard and Market Street with their newly minted heroes and their families riding in the back of luxury convertibles to the cheers of the new faithful. Once their new heroes arrived in their temporary quarters, the air was filled by the sound of the umpires initiating West Coast Major League Baseball with shouts of:  “PLAY BALL!”

The Dodgers played their first three seasons in the LA Memorial Coliseum, a magnificent edifice constructed for the 1932 Olympics with a seating capacity of 101, 671 fans and not a good seat in the house. Because of its size, the baseball field had to be shoe-horned into a stadium with horrible sightlines for baseball. Still, these newbie and clueless aficionados flocked to opening day in unheard numbers. On April 4, 1958, 78,672 Dodgers fans filled this stadium to see their new hometown heroes defeat the rival Giants by a score of 6 to 5.  The Dodgers annual attendance for 1958 was 1,845,556.

It would be fair to write off this amazing attendance as a fluke, but in the summer of 1959, 93,105 fans came to honor retired Brooklyn Dodger great, Roy Campanella, who never played a game in LA.

When we add the attendance for the three World Series games of 90,000 each, in the Dodgers victory over the Chicago White Sox, we can imagine how happy this made Walter O’Malley. We had our joke, but he owned the baseball world.

O’Malley, always the trickster, set up Horace Stoneham and his Giants by convincing them to play their games in the Bay Area, a poor second to his Dodgers drawing power in LA with its vast metropolitan area connected by its infamous freeway system. Instead of having a capacity like vast seating area of  Coliseum, Stoneham’s only choice was Seal Stadium, the previous home of the SF Seals minor league ball club with a capacity of 22,900.

Despite this limited capacity the SF Giants inaugural opener on April 15 attracted 23,448 fans who delighted in watching their Giants trash their new, yet perpetual opponents, the LA Dodgers, 8-0.

The Giants finished the season in third place with a record of 80-74, but despite their so-so record and the limited confines of Seal Stadium, their total attendance for 1958 was !,272, 857. I doubt Stoneham regreted his move or gave a damn about O’Malley.

The Giants moved into their permanent home, Candlestick Stadium in 1960 and the Dodgers moved into O’Malley’s creation in 1962. Candlestick turned out to be a flawed ballpark. Designed for both baseball and football, it didn’t suit either and its location made it susceptible to dramatic wind and temperature changes on any given game day. The Giants solved their issues in 2000 when they moved to Pacific Bell, now ATT Stadium located right on the bay.

Dodger Stadium opened in 1962 and was an instant success and has always had the look and feel of a place to watch a baseball game. It is now the third oldest ballpark in MLB with only ancient Wrigley Field and Fenway Park  outliving it. Unlike these two senior citizens, Dodger Stadium has been modernized several times to include corporate boxes, club seating and electronic scoreboards and message boards. Yet, all these features were added without destroying its magnificent sight-lines.

Meanwhile back in Gotham City, once the weeping and gnashing of teeth  ran its course, the National League fans who also happened to be power brokers in a city of power brokers began to formulate their attack on MLB and the National League in particular. Early rabblerousers included Joan Whitney Payson, heir to the family fortune and a great baseball aficionado and her toady, M. Donald Grant, both minority partners in the Giants who refused  to endorse Stoneham’s move to the promised land.

Once it became obvious that the National League’s presence was gone, Mayor Robert Wagner turned to William (Bill) Shea, a well-respected and extraordinary deal maker to bring a team back to New York. After the league refused to consider placing an expansion team in the Big Apple, Plan B was to steal a marginal team. Shea concentrated on the Cincinnati Reds, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Pittsburgh Pirates. None were interested.

Shea didn’t become a brilliant fixer by being timid. Since neither an expansion team or moving an existing team were in the cards, why not blow-up baseball’s existing structure. Ladies, and gentlemen, may I present Plan C: The Continental League (CL). Shea started by naming a commissioner: seventy-eight-year-old Branch Rickey. He then signed on Mrs. Payson as owner of the New York franchise and between the two of them and other power brokers, they signed up five other owners:

Washington DC                              Edward Bennett Williams

Toronto                                           Jack Kent Cooke

Denver                                             Bob Howsam

Dallas / Fort Worth                        Amon Carter

Twin Cities                                       Wheelock Whitney

Shea announced that this new CL would commence playing ball in the spring of 1961. Note, other than New York and DC, the other franchises all would play in cities devoid of a Major League teams. Shea also let it be known that he had also lined up owners in nine other cities.

As Shea expected, MLB, the NL and the AL were ready to go to war to prevent the (CL) from getting off the ground. Shea used Wagner’s political clout to have Congress intervene. He enlisted the help of Senator Estes Kefauver, Chairman of the powerful Special Committee on Organized Crime. Simply called,  The Kefauver Committee, it was famous for grilling gangsters and union leaders on its open televised hearings.  Kefauver let it be known that he would consider opening these hearings to include MLB.

Wagner’s clout also prompted Brooklyn Congressman, Emmanuel Cellers to become involved. The 70-year-old Brooklyn Democratic Congressman was Chairman of the powerful Judiciary Committee and he intimated that he may wish to have hearings to review changes to MLB’s anti-trust exemption.

MLB realized that they were in a fight that would only bring suffering and pain to the business of baseball. On June 18, 1960, the NL voted to approve expanding that league by two teams for  total of ten and the AL concurred on August 30. The AL in 1961 and NL in 1962.

The NL teams became the Houston Colt 45s (now the Astros) and the NY Metropolitans, aka the NY Mets , aka The Amazins.  Joan Payson headed up the syndicate that owned the Mets who played all of their 1962 and 1963 games in the ancient Polo Grounds  before moving to that ballpark Moses had proposed for the Dodgers in Flushing, Queens in 1964. Appropriately, it was named for the man who made this happen, Bill Shea.     

When the National League Abandoned New York

Part Three

And so it came to pass that winning the 1954 World Series turned out to be the New York Giants last hurrah. After winning the National League pennant and defeating the Cleveland Indians in four games to take the World Series, they went into a tailspin. In 1955, the Giants finished in third place and dropped to sixth place in 1956 and 1957. Consequently, attendance at the Polo Grounds dropped from 1.2 million fans in 1954 to 653,000 by 1957, the lowest in the National League. The Giants were in big trouble and their owner, Horace Stoneham, efforts to convince New York City officials to build a new stadium for his Giants in Manhattan over the New York Central’s West Side freight yards fell on deaf ears.

Stoneham began the process of moving his franchise to Minneapolis where he owned a Triple A minor league team. Why not, Major League Baseball was on the move in the 1950s. America’s post World War II identity was overwhelmed by a tsunami of change driven by consumerism and the growth in population thanks to the Baby Boomers. Traditional population centers could no longer accommodate this growth and Americans began migrating west in large numbers. Eventually, this movement expanded to include the south and southwest as A/C became reliable and readily available.

Baseball hadn’t expanded in decades, but these migrations convinced owners of second-rate teams in multi-team cities   to realize the opportunities available if they moved their franchises to baseball hungry cities. This movement began with the Boston Braves, who moved to Milwaukee in 1952. The Braves achieved attendance records that forced other owners to give pause when they examined their own financial models. The Braves couldn’t match the Red Sox popularity, so they successfully escaped Beantown for the town that Schlitz made famous.

Two other franchises took note of the same message, the St. Louis Browns and the Philadelphia Athletics. The Browns were up against the St. Louis Cardinals owned by the Anheuser-Bush family with their deep pockets. The Browns threw in their Missouri chips in 1954 and skedaddled to Baltimore where they re-invented themselves as the Baltimore Orioles.

The Philadelphia Athletics, once Connie Mack’s ship of state were in deep trouble, forced to play in a decrepit ballpark located in a lousy part of town. They lost the attendance battle to their National League rivals, the Phillies. Their owners  caved in after the 1954 season and sold the team to a Kansas City cabal who took the team to western Missouri for the 1955 season.

Stoneham wasn’t the only dissatisfied New York baseball owner. Walter O’Malley hated Ebbits Field, his small and obsolete ballpark in Crown Heights that opened way back in 1913 with a meager capacity of just under 32,000 fans. Granted, Dodger attendance remained at just over one million fans from 1954 though 1957, but O’Malley envied the Braves success in Milwaukee that averaged over two million fans during the same period.

I believe that despite O’Malley’s absolute dissatisfaction with Ebbits Field, his first instinct was to remain in Brooklyn. To this end, he proposed a spectacular state-of-the-art circular domed stadium with a capacity of 52,000 to be built above the Long Island Railroad yards at the junction of Flatbush Avenue and Atlantic Avenue in the heart of Downtown Brooklyn.

One could say that Walter O’Malley was a visionary who could see into the future, but O’Malley’s vision didn’t materialize until almost sixty years later when the Barclay Center opened in 2012. This new home for the Brooklyn Nets basketball team has a capacity of 19,000 basketball fans. Barclay Stadium, named after the bank, otherwise known as The Bark, could only have become a reality after a lengthy process of gentrification that step-by-step rebuilt and renewed Brooklyn neighborhoods resurrecting them from being considered to be a collection of sub-standard slums into viable neighborhoods. 

The 1950s was a time of white flight from American cities to the suburbs and Brooklyn was no exception. Downtown Brooklyn, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Williamsburg and Crown Heights were hemorrhaging white middle-class residents who were fleeing tenements and apartment houses for new affordable developments rising on former potato fields in Nassau and Suffolk counties. These new suburbanites came to depend on their automobiles as the car culture changed their lives.

O’Malley’s domed stadium could have ruined him as a stadium in Downtown Brooklyn would have had to depend on the subways and the Long Island Railroad to transport Dodger fans to and from the games. This deteriorating urban neighborhood was devoid of major highways or any concept of adequate parking.

Overshadowing these issues, O’Malley’s proposal conflicted with the future plans for Downtown Brooklyn as envisioned by the city’s chief planner, construction tsar and all-around powerbroker, Robert Moses (RM). O’Malley was in a fight that he couldn’t win.

RM countered with a proposal for the Dodgers to move to a new city-owned stadium that he would build for the Dodgers in Flushing Meadows, Queens. (This eventually became  the  location of Shea Stadium and its successor, Citi Field.) O’Malley refused to consider RM’s proposal, famously saying, “We are the Brooklyn Dodgers, not the Queens Dodgers.”

I suspect, that by this point, O’Malley was already deep into his negotiations with the Los Angeles city fathers. and had come to realize the extent of the incentives and treasures these-baseball starved leaders were willing to grant him if he brought his Major League team to their city.

My suspicions are based on the fact that O’Malley approached Ford Frick, the baseball commissioner, sometime before the next owners’ meetings scheduled for Chicago in late May of 1957. On May 28, Commissioner Frick confirmed that the National League owners had agreed to allow the Dodgers and the Giants to move to Los Angeles and San Francisco respectfully so long as both teams made the move.

Two weeks prior to these owners’ meetings, O’Malley entered into a contract with the City of Los Angeles called “The Arnebergh Memorandum” whereby he committed to moving the Dodgers to LA for the 1958 season. In return the city agreed to acquire 350 acres of land in Chavez Ravine for the construction of the Dodgers new stadium. In addition, the city would help O’Malley arrange financing and construct the parking lots and all access roads needed to reach the stadium. It was only after O’Malley signed this agreement that he approached the commissioner and his fellow owners.

Stoneham had also been busy negotiating with the mayor of San Francisco, George  Christopher. Stoneham too, had been offered a package that included a new baseball stadium that became Candlestick Park and enough other incentives that convinced Stoneham to move west and trade in his team’s interlocking orange “NY” for and orange interlocking “SF.”

Stoneham confirmed the Giants were moving to San Francisco for the 1958 season on August 19, 1957. For reasons unknown only to himself, O’Malley let the story leak out starting with Stoneham’s announcement, but the Dodgers didn’t get around to a formal announcement until October 8, 1957.

O’Malley’s treacherous and disgraceful behavior made him the central villain of a sarcastic joke popular with all Brooklyn Dodger fans:

If you were stuck in a room with Hitler, Stalin and O’Malley and you had a gun with only two bullets who would shoot?

You’d shoot O’Malley twice in case the first bullet didn’t kill him.

(To be continued)   .  

When Baseball was New York and New York was Baseball

January 2022

Part Two


Nineteen Fifty-Five seemed different. After all the years of suffering, failure and regrets and those near misses in 1952 and 1953, confidence replaced the frustration that enveloped the psyche of the Dodgers organization, the team and their fans.

From the first pitch thrown and the first crack of the bat on opening day, the quality of the very air Dodger fans breathed was different. Every hunch and feeling confirmed that this was our year. Expectations were high. The newspaper beat reporters and the columnists caught on as did the Dodger fans I lived with. I was only eleven, but old enough to understand what was going on. When the Dodgers began the season by winning their first ten games, we all started believing that 1955 might be special. When the Brooklyn team extended that early streak to 22 and 2, we jumped on the band wagon.

Through my own experience, I have learned that if you are a devoted fan of a specific team, sometimes you develop insight to sense that those players were bound for glory. I knew that to be true for my 1986 Football Giants even before that season began. My premonition was fulfilled when they beat the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXI to finally became Super Bowl Champions.

The 1955 Dodgers were my first experience of rooting for a team of destiny. The Dodgers stars were at their best that year. Newcomers, Jim Gilliam and Sandy Amoros joined Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, Jackie Robinson, Carl Furillo and Roy Campanella. Brooklyn’s powerful pitching staff led by Don Newcombe, Johnny Podres, Carl Erskine and Clem Labine were aided and abetted by a very young Sandy Koufax and a another who would have a long career with this team, Tommy Lasorda.

The Dodgers overwhelmed the National League that year with a record of ninety-eight wins and fifty-five loses winning the pennant by 13 1/2 games over the second place Milwaukee Braves.

Who else but the Yankees would be opposition in the World Series? The first two games were played in Yankee Stadium. Whitey Ford outlasted Don Newcombe in Game One that the Bronx Bombers won 6 to 5.

The Yankees repeated their prowness the following day, winning Game Two, 4 to 2.

The venue shifted to Ebbets Field for the next three games. Johnny Podres led the Brooklyn nine to a comfortable 8 to 3 Victory in Game Three. Game Four was a home run marathon as Campanella hit two home runs while Snider and Hodges each went yard once tying the series at two games each. Roger Craig got the win and Labine the save. Snider hit two homers and Amoros, one as the Dodgers won Game Five  by a score of 5 to 3.

Up three games to two, the contest returned to Yankee Stadium for Game Six. Whitey Ford once again, stopped the Dodgers, this time by a score of 5 to 1 to even the series at three games each.

Brooklyn started Podres while the Yankees depended on Tommy Byrne who was one and one in the series. Byrne gave up two runs, one in the fourth and one in the sixth, both credited as RBIs to  Hodges.

The most dramatic moment came in the bottom of the sixth inning when Yagi Berra hit a shot to deep left field where Sandy Amoros made a remarkable catch that ended the inning when Pee Reese’s relay to Hodges tagged  out Gil McDougald before he could get back to first. Photos in the next morning tabloids revealed that Amoros eyes were closed when he caught the ball.       

At the end of Game 7, the scoreboard read: Brooklyn 2, New York: 0. Johnny Padres had shut out the Bombers and the Dodgers were World Series Champions for the first time ever. The headlines on the tabloids reflected this triumph and reality that the long wait was over:

The Daily News: THIS IS NEXT YEAR!


And all of Brooklyn and Dodger fans everywhere celebrated followed by the best sleep they’d ever would have with and without alcohol. Better yet, was waking up to  discover that sometimes dreams really do come true.


The World Series turned out to be a rematch of 1955. The Yankees coasted to win the AL pennant by ten games over the second place Chicago White Sox. The Yankees began their assault on opening day, April16 against the Washington Senators in Griffith Park. President Dwight David Eisenhower witnessed Mickey Mantle parking two home runs into the bleachers as the Bombers won 10 to 4. By the close of business on the last regular season game, Mantle had won the triple crown by hitting fifty-two home runs, driving in 130 runs with a batting average of .353!

The Dodgers had a rougher road to the pennant with the Milwaukee Braves nipping at their heels. The Braves changed managers midway though the season and came within one game of tying the Dodgers. Close, but no cigar!

Once again, the World Series went a full seven games. Brooklyn won the first two games both played at Ebbets Field. Sal Maglie, once the Giants ace, now traded to the Dodgers outlasted Whitey Ford in Game One: Brooklyn 6, Yankees 3. In Game Two, Brooklyn poured on the firepower in a barnburner that finally by the Dodgers ending the contest by outlasting the Yankees by  a final score of 13 to 8.

The series shifted to Yankee Stadium for the next three games. Whitey Ford had a terrific outing in Game Three going the distance while Enos Slaughter’s three-run homer led the home team to a 5 to 3 victory.

The next day, homers by Hank Bauer and Mickey Mantle tied the series at two games each as the Yankees prevailed 6 -2.

Game Five was played at 2:05 PM on October 8, 1956, before a crowd of 64,519 fans. Mel Allen and Vin Scully shared the TV mics broadcasted on NBC. Bob Neal and Bob Wolff handled the radio broadcast on the Mutual Broadcasting System.

Dodger’s manager, Walter Alston handed the ball to Sal Maglie while Casey Stengel put his into the hands of Don Larsen. Two hours and six minutes later, the Stadium crowd watched as, Yogi Berra, the Yankees catcher raced out from home plate and lept into his pitcher’s arms to begin the celebration of Larsen’s perfect game. Twenty-Seven Dodgers up and Twenty-Seven down  and not one batter ever reached first base.

Final score, 2-0. Maglie only gave up two runs, Mantle hit a solo homer in the fourth inning and Hank Bauer hit an RBI single in the sixth inning. “Larsen needed just 97 pitches to complete the game. In 1998, Larsen recalled, ‘I had great control. I never had that kind of control in my life.”

In the Dodgers ninth, Larsen retired Carl Furillo on a flyout to Bauer and Roy Campanella on a grounder to Billy Martin. Larsen faced Dale Mitchell, a .312 career hitter. For the final out. Larsen got ahead of the count  at 1-2 before striking Mitchell out.

Don Larsen became a celebrity after the series concluded making numerous appearances and enjoying an extended fifteen minutes of fame. But what he accomplished remains untarnished. Simply put, Don Larsen is the only player in Major League History to throw a perfect World Series game.

Despite the trauma the Brooklyn team had to endure as the losing team in a perfect game, Back home in Ebbits Field, they prevailed in a ten-inning marathon, 1-0. Clem Labine and Bob Turley both pitched complete games that ended when Jackie Robinson hit an RBI single allowing Jim Gilliam to score the winning run from third base.

Go figure, the Yankees blew Game Seven wide open from the get-go. They scored two runs in the first inning, two runs in the third inning, one in the fourth and seven in the seventh to win the 1956 World Series by a score of 9-0.

Jackie Robinson made the last out in what would be his last time at bat. His out also brought down the curtain on New York’s subway series. The Milwaukee Braves won the next two National League Pennants. The Yankees World Series streak would continue until 1964, but both the Giants  and the Dodgers would leave town at the end of the 1957 season.