By Ben Sears
Reading about the passing of Johnny Podres earlier this week jarred my memory. Podres, you might recall, was the winning pitcher in game 7 of the 1955 World Series which saw the Brooklyn Dodgers win their only Series championship before departing for the Left Coast. And they did it against the Yankees. These days, with the sports pages full of stammering self righteous millionaire team owners and commissioners before Congressional committees, it's too easy to forget the more significant side of the world of sports. Podres' death is a reminder. Let me explain.
In the fall of 1955, the Lima Public School in suburban Philadelphia had one TV set. It was in the cafeteria. After school you could go and catch the end of the Series games; the place was full every day that week, as I recall. We could see that the Dodger team that won the Series against the mighty (and all white) Yankees included, of course, Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, etc. And we could see that it also included, in prominent roles, Roy Campanella, Don Newcomb and Jackie Robinson. In short, it was a different kind of team than the ones we were used to seeing in the major leagues. I think we got more education on the important matter of the budding Civil Rights Movement that week than we got all year long in our 7th grade social studies class.
Today, as the print and electronic media work overtime to make the world of sports a diversion rather than a reflection of our society, I'm remembering Johnny Podres and the 1955 Dodgers.