Neither the Giants nor the Dodgers were in contention for the pennant as the teams took to the field on September 19, 1945. The Dodgers were in third place with no chance of going higher, and the Giants, in sixth place, had only the slightest of chances of escaping the second division and catching the Dodgers. Any game between these two combatants brought out the competitive urge in both teams, and their managers – Leo Durocher for the Dodgers and Mel Ott for the Giants.
Ebbets Field was the venue on this September afternoon and the number of onlookers was small. Total attendance was 10,146. The 5,909 paying patrons were joined by 2,874 servicemen and 1,363 women for the Wednesday afternoon Ladies Day promotion.
The Dodgers sent Vic Lombardi to the mound. The 22-year-old-rookie had a 9-11 record, including three wins against the Giants, and proceeded to retire the first six batters he faced. In the bottom of the second inning, Giant starting pitcher Harry Feldman (12-13) was solved by the first three batters he faced. First baseman Ed Stevens opened the frame with a broken-bat single. He advanced to third base on a single by Stan “Frenchy” Bordagaray. That brought up converted catcher Mike Sandlock. Sandlock, who had homered off Feldman at the Polo Grounds earlier in the season, got his second homer of the year and the score was 3-0 in favor of the Dodgers. Two batters later, after a single by Lombardi, Giant manager Ott removed Feldman and summoned on Bill Voiselle who stopped the bleeding for the time being.
Things quieted down after that. Lombardi kept the Giants scoreless, scattering seven hits through the first six innings. Manager Ott, looking to get back into the game, removed Voiselle for pinch-hitter Clyde Kluttz in the fifth inning, and Kluttz became Lombardi’s fourth strikeout victim. Adrian Zabala took over the mound chores for the Giants and set down the Dodgers in the fifth and sixth innings without further damage.
In the top of the seventh inning, the 5’ 7” Lombardi showed that he could be reached, and the Giants mounted a threat. Buddy Kerr opened the inning with a single. It was his third infield hit in as many at-bats. Napoleon Reyes kept the rally going with another single. With runners on first and second, manager Ott called upon another pinch hitter. This time, Billy Jurges, batting for pitcher Zabala, walked to load the bases. The Dodgers seemed to have a chance to get their first out when Giants center fielder Leon “Red” Treadway sent a ground ball toward Dodger second baseman Eddie Stanky. Stanky could not handle the ball, the lead runner scored, and the bags remained loaded. George Hausmann walked to bring in the Giants’ second tally and Dodger manager Durocher signaled to the bullpen.
Cy Buker came on in relief, but was unable to protect the one run lead, although the blame was not entirely his. Manager Ott inserted himself into the game as a pinch hitter and popped out for the first out of the inning. Danny Gardella grounded to shortstop, but the Dodgers were unable to complete the double play. The score was tied at three apiece. That brought up the hard hitting, slow footed Ernie Lombardi. The Dodger infielders were stationed on the outfield grass and Lombardi’s ground ball went to Dodger shortstop Eddie Basinski. Basinski fumbled the ball, and the Giants took the lead, 4-3 on their third unearned run of the game. By the time Buker struck out Roy Zimmerman to end the inning, the damage had been done.
The Giants trusted their lead to Ace Adams, their fourth hurler of the game. He was making his 63rd appearance of the season, but this time, the trust of the Giants in their top reliever was ill-placed. Dodger center fielder Goody Rosen led off the bottom of the seventh with his 11th home run of the season, tying the score. Singles by Augie Galan and Ed Stevens chased Adams. There was but one out when Jack Brewer took over the mound chores. Brooklyn then tried a double steal, but Galan was thrown out at third as Stevens advanced to second. With two out Bordagaray stepped to the plate and drove Stevens home with a sharp single to right field. Sandlock who had given the Dodgers their early lead hit a long single to center field and Bordagaray tried to score from first. As Harold Burr mentioned in the next day’s edition of the Brooklyn Eagle, “When he tried to score all the way from first, he found the ball and Lombardi waiting for him. Having Big Ernie waiting for you is, in itself, a frightening sight, and Frenchy was out by a city block.”1
There was no further scoring and Buker went back to the mound to shut down the Giants in their final two at-bats to secure the win for the Dodgers. It moved his record to 7-2. Adams took the loss for the Giants, and saw his record go to 11-9.
The final inning was not without entertainment value as Giant manager Ott took exception to an umpire’s call and spent 10 minutes making his case to anyone who would listen. Ott had used his fourth pinch-hitter of the game, Mike Schemer, to lead off the ninth inning. Schemer batted for Brewer, the fifth Giant hurler of the afternoon. He popped out to shortstop Basinski. Eddie in transferring the ball from his glove to his throwing hand had dropped the ball. As Louis Effrat noted in the next day’s New York Times, “Lou Jorda, umpiring at third, signaled that Schemer was out, but George Magerkurth, from behind the plate, indicated the runner was safe.”2 The ruling was that the batter was out, and Ott was not about to change anybody’s mind. Watching on from the Dodgers’ dugout, manager Durocher was a spectator as the normally mild-manner Ott put on a presentation on a par with a typical Durocher encounter with the men in blue.
For catcher Mike Sandlock, his three RBIs were his best for a season in which he had only 17 for the entire campaign. Both figures were career highs. His first inning home run was the last of his two major league homers. The following season, he appeared in only 19 of the Dodgers’ first 70 games before being sent to Triple-A Montreal in July. He would spend seven more seasons in the minors before returning to the big leagues for his last hurrah in 1953 with the Pittsburgh pirates.
Dodger second baseman Stanky had three walks in the game to bring him within 13 of the all-time league record. By season’s end, he set a new mark with a league leading 148 bases on balls. He also led the league in plate appearances and runs scored.
Goody Rosen, whose game tying homer was his 11th of the season, finished the afternoon in third place in the National League batting race with a .329 average. He went on to compile a team leading .325 batting average with 12 homers and 75 RBIs. In the balloting for the National League MVP, he finished in tenth place. His 12 homers were tops for the Dodgers as were his 197 hits. 1945 proved to be his best season. The following year, he was sold to the Giants in late April and, at age 33, batted .281 in 100 games for New York in his last major league season.
Ace Adams, who was charged with his ninth loss of the season, against 11 wins, went on to record 15 saves (based on 2015 statistical metrics) and lead the National League in that category. 1945 was his last meaningful season in the major leagues. The following year, he appeared in three April games, pitched 2.2 innings and had an ERA of 16.88. He was released, and a career that had begun in 1934 in the Class D Evangeline League, was over.
Managers Ott and Durocher, in the last year of World War II were both player-mangers. Ott, at age 36, was in his 20th major league season. In 1945, he had his last productive season at the plate, batting .308 and hitting 21 homers. He hit 511 homers during the course of his career and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1951. Durocher, whose career had begun with the Yankees in the 1920s was pressed into action for two games in 1945. He managed in five decades, won 2,008 games as a manager, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1994.
This article originally appeared in “100: The 100 Year Journey of a Baseball Journeyman, Mike Sandlock” (SABR, 2016), edited by Karl Cicitto.
In addition to those sources cited in the end notes, the author used Baseball-Reference.com.
1 Harold C. Burr, “Ed Stanky Needs 13 Passes to Tie mark,” Brooklyn Eagle, September 20, 1945, 16.
2 Louis Effrat, “Dodgers Two Run Rally in Seventh Topples Desperate Giants, 5-4,” New York Times, September 20 1945, 27.