4.01.2013

1952 Topps
Eddie Stanky

The weather was getting cooler in The Bronx where Tommy Tremble lived with his parents and grandmother. He was a diehard Yankees fan and had a tattered black cap to prove it.

At 11 years of age, Tommy had grown up watching the likes of Joe DiMaggio, now in his final season. He had a liking for the young Oklahoman named Mickey who showed such promise as a rookie.

But his favorite was shortstop Phil Rizzuto. Like Rizzuto, Tommy was  diminutive in size. He was often the smallest player on the lot.

Tommy followed Rizzuto and the rest of the Yankees on WINS-AM. Mel Allen, Bill Crowley, Dizzy Dean and Art Gleeson were his eyes and ears on the diamond. Occasionally he would catch a glimpse on the tube at Donovan's Appliance and Television shop.

It was even more rare for Tommy to join his father for an afternoon game at the Yankee's Stadium. In 1951, the Yankees were again pennant winners and would face the hated Giants for the World Championship.

Game 1 would go to the Giants 5-1, Game 2 to the Yankees 3-1. Game 3 was scheduled for October 6 at the Polo Grounds. Tommy had never been to a game in the ballpark across the Harlem River.

But that morning Tommy's father had a surprise: two tickets to the World Series.

Tommy was thrilled but he had never been to a baseball game in enemy territory. Nothing would deter him. He put on his wool jacket and his tattered cap and made the trek with his father to157th Street and 8th Avenue.

It was a cavernous park with a horseshoe shape.

The Yankee's were down 1-0 after 4 1/2 innings when Eddie Stanky walked with one out in the fifth. Yankees catcher Yogi Berra was looking for Stanky to steal and called for a pitchout. Berra responded with a perfect throw to shortstop Phil Rizzuto. Stanky was a dead duck but managed to kick the ball from Rizzuto's glove and made his way to third base after the ball got away.

It was a dirty play in Tommy's book. Stanky's slide was high. It was uncalled for.

By the time the inning had ended, the Giants had scored five runs and were on their way to a 6-2 win and a 2-1 series lead.

It was Tommy's first World Series game, and Eddie Stanky left a sour taste in his mouth. For Tommy, he was public enemy No. 1.

The Yankees would go on to win the series but Tommy would never forget that day.


Six months later, Tommy purchased his first pack of Topps baseball cards from the corner market. His first pull: The hated Eddie Stanky, who would become the new manager in St. Louis.

Note: Tommy Tremble is a fictional character but the facts surrounding the 1951 World Series are true. Whenever I come across a poor old baseball card like this 1952 Topps Eddie Stanky my mind wanders. I wonder who could do such a thing to a classic baseball card? Baseball evokes such emotion.

Maybe Tommy Tremble did exist after all.

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