2020 World Series Game 6 Perspective Like No Other
It's uncharacteristically cold and drizzly at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. With Game 6 starting in a few hours I rang up Cleveland Indians 1bm Eddie Robinson (1948 World Series champion) to gauge his thoughts on the outcome. Eddie celebrates his 100th in December and looks forward to a family gathering in a careful, low-key setting. Monday, he called his good friend Dr. Bobby Brown, former New York Yankees third baseman of Fort Worth, to wish him a happy 96th. As a veteran of WWII and Korea, cardiologist and former president of the American League, Brown is on the short list for having one of MLB’s most illustrious post-baseball careers.
With its 5-acre retractable roof, the ballpark is an Uber-ride away from Robinson’s residence in Fort Worth. Tonight, he'd rather watch the Fall Pageant in the comfort of his den with his wife Bette, “a great cook,” he adds, “who makes the best stir fry and pot roast for cold weather.”
Eddie thinks the Dodgers will likely hoist the trophy, just as he did 72 years ago, when the Indians embarked on Game 6 leading the Boston Braves 3 - 2 … but you never know.
1948 was the last year the Tribe took the prize. Robinson’s teammates included a slew of Hall of Famers including pitchers Bob Feller, Bob Lemon and Satchel Paige, short stop/manager Lou Boudreau, second baseman Joe “Flash” Gordon, and center fielder Larry Doby, the first black player to hit a home run in World Series history in Game 4. Hall of Famer Billy Southworth managed the Boston Braves. Pitchers Johnny Sain and Hall of Famer Warren Spahn had won 39 games together that season, inspiring the saying, “Spahn and Sain, then pray for rain.”
Braves outfielder Clint Conatser passed away at age 98 in August 2019. Like Tampa’s newest star, Brett Phillips, Conatser was a pinch hitter who appeared in two 1948 World Series games. When we spoke, Conatser had lost his vision and was listening the games over the radio, just like the old days when he almost changed Series history. “A few more feet was all Clint Conatser needed,” reported SABR. “His hard shot to center with the bases loaded and the Braves trailing 4-1 in the eighth in Game 6 was caught by Cleveland’s Thurman Tucker against the outfield fence; had the ball hit or cleared the wall just above Tucker’s glove, there is a good chance the Braves might have rallied to capture the game and set up a winner-take-all finale at the ballpark the next afternoon.”
Though Eddie believes the game has changed an awful lot since the Golden Era, fans are seeing flashbacks of World Series' pasts – stolen bases, no replay room, and simple-fare concessions. In 1948 the Series was first televised nationwide. That year RCA donated 100 televisions installed at Boston Common to allow Braves fans to watch the opening game. Tonight, Dodgers fans will bring their own concessions to drive-in watch parties on giant movie screens in stadium parking lots.
As a former scout, coach and manager, Eddie appreciates raw talent, and those rare, unpredictable moments when players are tapped on the shoulder by the baseball gods.
ER Series Highlight “Saturday night’s game was a barn burner … one of the best games I ever saw. Brett Phillips was just an extra extra man. When the Rays put him up to pinch hit … he gets a hit and drove in the winning run in the ninth. I couldn’t believe it … my wife was jumping up and down. It was terrific.”
ER Take on talent “Tampa’s [Randy Arozarena] is hitting spectacularly – he’s a favorite. I like Mookie Betts, right fielder for the Dodgers. He made the error that cost him the game, but he’s a Hell of a ballplayer. There are so many great players these days but what impresses me is the number of home runs they’re hitting … Hell, that ball just jumps out of the park,” he said.
Though Eddie hasn’t visited the new ballpark people tell him its magnificent. “They were nice enough to sell me four tickets to the Series. I gave them to a good friend who had great seats among 11,000 fans and enjoyed the game. Next season I look forward to watching the Rangers from a box with friends.”
ER Post-World Series, Hunkering Down through Covid “Find things you love to do at home. Bette and I have fallen in love with Western Shows. Starz Encore Western Channel is our favorite. Every afternoon we watch classics like ‘Cheyenne’ and ‘Maverick’ – love it!”
I must admit that Eddie does remind me a bit of Steve McQueen, so this comes as no surprise. He also advises people to stay busy. “Bette does her work in her office; I piddle around in my office, working on my second book.” Eddie tells me that he enjoys hearing from people who read his first book, “Lucky Me,” written with longtime friend and baseball expert, Paul Rogers. Best news yet, Eddie plans to launch a Podcast soon about the Golden Age of Baseball. Stay tuned. It will be a barn burner.