These were fighting words. No doubt!
Featured above is an October 27, 1953 letter written by Dodgers President Walter O'Malley to Collinsville Herald columnist Elmer Hazzard that is currently available at Hunt Auctions (auction link here). The Illinois reporter had sent along a story he had written focusing on Yankees infielder Billy Martin. Below is what O'Malley wrote:
Thank you for sending along a copy of your column on Billy Martin. We here in Brooklyn do not think that the Dodgers are as inept as Martin claims.Ouch! Billy was slinging some mud.
Unfortunately, I haven't been able to track the article referenced in the letter. That said, I have no doubt Martin uttered these kind of words. As a player he was regarded as an hothead, and as a manager he had a well known propensity for running his mouth.
As you know, the Dodgers had been in a battle against the American League rival throughout the 50's; having faced them three times in the Fall Classic over the preceding five seasons when this letter was written. The Yankees had just won their fifth straight World Championship.
Billy Martin, for his part, had a direct hand in dismantling the Brooklyn Dodgers during both the 1952 and 1953 World Series'. In '52 Martin made a game saving catch in the 7th inning off the bat of Jackie Robinson. (You can watch that entire inning here. It starts at about the 2:01 hour mark) With the bases loaded and two outs on the board, Jackie hit a high popup on a 2-2 pitch that was going to land just to the left of the pitcher. Martin, who was playing a deep second base rushed in at the last moment to make a shoestring catch. All the while two Dodger runners had already crossed the plate, but alas none of them counted. The next year, Billy decimated the Dodgers with his bat, and earned MVP honors for exploits; batting .500 in 24 at-bats with two triple, two homer runs and eight RBI's.
So, maybe he had certain rights to be so boastful. Still, you gotta think the boys from Brooklyn used this as ammunition the next time they faced each other. As you know, that happened in 1955, and the Dodgers made Martin eat his words when they took home the crown.
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