The Team That Forever Changed Baseball and America: The 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers

By Lyle Spatz; Maurice Bouchard et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 46. The Protested Game of July 20, 1947

David W. Smith

It is well known that a manager may formally protest a game only if he claims an umpire has made a decision contrary to the rules. Dissatisfaction with a specific call (safe/out, ball/strike, fair/foul) is not grounds for a protest.

However, sometimes things get a little murky. Take, for example, the game of July 20, 1947, played by the Dodgers against the St. Louis Cardinals in Ebbets Field. A protest by the Cardinals that day was upheld, although the specific rule that was violated is hard to pin down. Also, the remedy decreed by National League president Ford Frick went beyond the protest rules.

Let’s address these two points separately, beginning with a short summary of what happened on the field that day. Jim Hearn pitched a great game for St. Louis, allowing no runs, two walks, only four singles, and holding a 2–0 lead through eight innings. In the top of the ninth with two outs and the bases empty, Cardinals right fielder Ron Northey hit a “towering drive” to the wall in center off Hugh Casey.1 Dodgers center fielder Pete Reiser leaped but couldn’t get it.

Umpire Larry Goetz, working at first base in the three-man crew, ran into the outfield and immediately called “No,” ruling that the ball hit the top of the wall. Beans Reardon was the other base umpire, and as Northey approached third base, Reardon signaled that it was a home run. Northey naturally slowed his pace as he continued to the plate, where umpire Jocko Conlan called him out, ending the inning.

Roscoe McGowen described it in the New York Times: “There was a lapse of a couple of seconds before the ball dropped back on the field, where [right fielder Dixie] Walker picked it up and fired it to [second baseman Eddie] Stanky, who relayed it to [catcher] Bruce Edwards.” The picture accompanying the story shows a sliding Northey was tagged out on a close play.2The Sporting News has a picture of the play at the plate from a different angle.3

The Cardinals immediately and vehemently protested, saying that Northey had been deceived by Reardon. The consensus in the press box and from the umpires (in later testimony) was that the slow-footed Northey would almost certainly have been safe had he not slowed down.

Manager Eddie Dyer formally protested the game, and the Dodgers came to bat, still trailing by two runs. The Cardinals used three pitchers to face seven batters but obtained only one out as Brooklyn collected three hits, a walk, and a stolen base (coupled with a throwing error by catcher Joe Garagiola) and used three pinch hitters to score three times, apparently winning the game, 3–2.

President Frick’s ruling was released on July 25, and he tried to be Solomon-like as he reached an unorthodox decision. The starting point was to accept the widespread view that Northey would have scored except for Reardon’s action. Therefore, Frick ruled that Northey was to be credited with a home run. However, he also let stand the three Dodgers runs in the bottom of the ninth, and the game went in the books as a 3–3 tie, with all individual records counting in the official totals. Only Casey’s win and Murry Dickson’s loss were expunged. A replay of the entire game was scheduled

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The Team That Forever Changed Baseball and America: The 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Table of Contents v
  • Foreword ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Chapter 1- How the 1947 Team Was Built 1
  • Chapter 2- Spring Training in Havana 3
  • Chapter 3- Jackie Robinson 6
  • Chapter 4- Branch Rickey 15
  • Chapter 5- Leo Durocher 22
  • Chapter 6- Kirby Higbe 28
  • Chapter 7- Bobby Bragan 32
  • Chapter 8- Dixie Walker 36
  • Chapter 9- Carl Furillo 44
  • Chapter 10- The Suspension of Leo Durocher 50
  • Chapter 11- Branch Rickey and the Mainstream Press 57
  • Chapter 12- Timeline, April 15-April 30 62
  • Chapter 13- Ebbets Field, 1947 64
  • Chapter 14- Jackie Robinson’s First Game 67
  • Chapter 15- Clyde Sukeforth 69
  • Chapter 16- Burt Shotton 73
  • Chapter 17- Ray Blades 80
  • Chapter 18- Spider Jorgensen 84
  • Chapter 19- Hal Gregg 87
  • Chapter 20- Timeline, May L-May 20 92
  • Chapter 21- Hank Behrman 95
  • Chapter 22- Rube Melton 99
  • Chapter 23- Jackie Robinson and the Jews 103
  • Chapter 24- Timeline, May 21-June 15 105
  • Chapter 25- Gene Hermanski 109
  • Chapter 26- Hugh Casey 113
  • Chapter 27- Rex Barney 119
  • Chapter 28- Tommy Brown 124
  • Chapter 29- Harry Taylor 129
  • Chapter 30- Timeline, June 16-June 29 132
  • Chapter 31- Ed Chandler 134
  • Chapter 32- Marv Rackley 137
  • Chapter 33- Gil Hodges 140
  • Chapter 34- George Dockins 146
  • Chapter 35- Eddie Stanky 150
  • Chapter 36- Timeline, June 30-July 14 157
  • Chapter 37- Arky Vaughan 159
  • Chapter 38- Duke Snider 164
  • Chapter 39- Ralph Branca 172
  • Chapter 40- Clyde King 176
  • Chapter 41- Jake Pitler 181
  • Chapter 42- Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1947 All-Star Game 185
  • Chapter 43- Timeline, July 15—July 31 186
  • Chapter 44- Pee Wee Reese 189
  • Chapter 45- Bruce Edwards 197
  • Chapter 46- The Protested Game of July 20, 1947 201
  • Chapter 47- Joe Hatten 203
  • Chapter 48- Timeline, August 1-August 17 207
  • Chapter 49- Howie Schultz 210
  • Chapter 50- Pete Reiser 215
  • Chapter 51- Tommy Tatum 223
  • Chapter 52- Timeline, August 18-August 31 226
  • Chapter 53- Eddie Miksis 228
  • Chapter 54- Stan Rojek 232
  • Chapter 55- Dan Bankhead 235
  • Chapter 56- Timeline, September L-September 19 239
  • Chapter 57- Phil Haugstad 242
  • Chapter 58- Don Lund 246
  • Chapter 59- Vic Lombardi 250
  • Chapter 60- Jack Banta 254
  • Chapter 61- Johnny Van Cuyk 257
  • Chapter 62- Timeline, September 20-September 28 261
  • Chapter 63- Willie Ramsdell 263
  • Chapter 64- Dick Whitman 267
  • Chapter 65- Ervpalica 271
  • Chapter 66- Ed Stevens 276
  • Chapter 67- Walter O’Malley 279
  • Chapter 68- John L. Smith 284
  • Chapter 69- Red Barber 287
  • Chapter 70- Connie Desmond 294
  • Chapter 71- Advertising and the Dodgers in 1947 298
  • Chapter 72- The 1947 World Series 305
  • Chapter 73- Al Gionfriddo 312
  • Chapter 74- Cookie Lavagetto 316
  • Chapter 75- Al Gionfriddo’s Memorable Game Six Catch 320
  • Chapter 76- Lavagetto Ends Bill Bevens’s No-Hit Attempt 323
  • Chapter 77- Most Valuable Player Award 326
  • Chapter 78- Rookie of the Year Award 327
  • Chapter 79- Cy Young Award 328
  • Chapter 80- Dodgers Attendance in 1947 329
  • Chapter 81 - Ownership Issues in Brooklyn 333
  • Epilogue 337
  • Notes and References 339
  • Contributors 373
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