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1963 World Series Game One — 50 Years Ago Today

October 2, 2013

Exactly fifty years ago today, the great Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitcher Sandy Koufax set a World Series record, striking out 15 New York Yankees in a (5-2) Dodgers’ win in the World Series opener.

It was Wednesday October 2nd, 1963 and as is the case today, was a beautiful day in the New York area. The game was played at the original Yankee Stadium.

I have incredibly fond memories of the game, lucky to have watched while in my third grade classroom.

I had a great teacher, Mrs. Drusin, who let the class watch the game.

And I wouldn’t leave the classroom until I got to see Sandy strikeout Harry Bright to break Carl Erskine’s record of 14 strikeouts in a World Series game.

Not too far away, future great broadcaster and already a baseball lover, Bob Costas saw the game in his sixth grade class.

That was because as Bob so eloquently put it during his brilliant, moving eulogy for Mickey Mantle 32 (Koufax’ number) years later, his teacher Mr. Tomasee, “a very wise man knew that the World Series was more important, at least for one day, than any school lesson could be.”

Life went on and horrible tragedy struck just one month and twenty days later when of course, President Kennedy was killed.

Yet the memories of that innocent and bold day on October 2nd remain tucked into a rare special place of happiness for me.

Destined to go vs the flow even then, I succeeded that day with my once beloved Dodgers against a once intensely disliked Yankees team.

Yet 50 years later, the memories and greatness of those Yankees; Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Edward “Whitey” Ford to name three, are as sweet as those of Dodgers Sandy, Don Drysdale and John Roseboro (who hit a big three run home run in game 1). Almost, anyway.

Jack Nicholson’s character “Mc Murphy” in his award winning performance in the film, “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” badly wants to watch the 1963 World Series and that “opener,” as he calls game one. His character tries again to watch the next day and is again denied. That depicted the harsh reality of mean triumphing over good.

Still amidst the sad in the film, is broadcaster Ernie Harwell’s actual recap of Game 1, as part of the “preview” for game two.

The ads for the game (players like Roseboro or the Yankees Elston Howard telling us how much they love the new Gillette razor), the price of razors, and the Gillette theme to open the World Series broadcast all take me back to better days.

The game, exactly 50 years ago today, represented much of what, (and here are those saddest words again), “might have been.”

I am grateful that for one day, at least, it was “what might have been.”

Not only did Sandy strikeout 15 but former New York governor and minor league baseball player Mario Cuomo, in attendance that day, years later told me: “most remarkable was that Bobby Richardson, who rarely struck out, fanned three times that day.”

Frank Howard’s second inning double to the famed, on the field monuments was hit as hard as any ball was ever hit.

What great memories!

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