The Boys of Summer

The phrase, The Boys of Summer was penned in a book about the 1950's Brooklyn Dodgers. Mineville's Johnny Podres figured prominently in finally bringing a World Series Championship to the bridesmaid Dodgers. Year after year, the Dodgers would race out to a regular season championship only to lose to the talent loaded Yankees or the much hated New York Baseball Giants. It was an era in which baseball enjoyed its greatest popularity. Perhaps that extraordinary popularity came from the connection that people felt to the players that were often community members.

In many ways, the Boys of Summer, including Johnny Podres, represented the last generation of professional baseball players that had a relatively ordinary life outside baseball. Professional baseball players like Duke Snyder and Gil Hodges lived in ordinary homes in local neighborhoods. There were no multi-millionaire baseball superstars. There were superstars; however, the distance between them and ordinary people was relatively small when contemporary players are considered.

An elderly gentleman that I know told me a story that exemplifies just how different players were from that era. He was at a ball game that featured the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Baseball Giants, though he wasn't sure of the year. He sat behind the Giants dugout where Leo Durocher managed the team. Ed Stankey, the controversial second baseman is alleged to have shown up in the dugout late and not fully dressed to play. Durocher is said to have lined him out with volley after volley of excoriating cursing. Stankey was heard to say in response that he was late because he needed to mow the lawn at home. Stankey informed Durocher that he needed to return home to finish the job before his wife kicked him out of the house. Durocher would have none of it and Stankey did play that day.

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