So, since I began this 1950 season, I've been jotting down notes for the fictional replay magazine. Here are my cover stories so far:
APRIL 14– Preview magazine. Headline: “Gotham Guys.” The New York Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers, the two teams predicted to win their leagues, are on the cover. I'd have Joe DiMaggio and Duke Snider standing at home plate in Yankee Stadium with bats on their shoulders. Like Sports Illustrated though, my prediction will probably turn out wrong when the season concludes.
APRIL 21 – Headline: “A-MIZE-ing.” Johnny Mize is the cover boy this week, leading the Yankees with a three-home run game against Boston on April 20. After losing its first game by one run, the Yankees outscored the Red Sox 24-2 in the next three games and take an early American League lead.
APRIL 28 - Headline: “Ding Dong.” Gus Bell and the Pittsburgh Pirates are the early season surprise. They are 8-1, winning five games against St. Louis in the first two weeks and Bell hits four home runs. Ralph Kiner, who actually led the National League in home runs in 1950, is off to a slow start.
MAY 5 – Headline: “What's Wrong With the Phillies?” Despite having Robin Roberts and Curt Simmons as starters and Jim Konstanty in the bullpen, the Philadelphia Phillies start the season 8-11. Roberts is 0-3 on the mound and Del Ennis leads the team with a .304 average. The City of Brotherly Love is becoming the City of Lose.
MAY12 – Headline: “Boston Strong.” The Red Sox open 21-8 and take second place in the American League. The team has winning streaks of eight and five games and the only hitch so far is losing three of four when it hosted New York to begin the season. Dom DiMaggio is batting .413 and Vern Stephens leads the team with seven home runs. Pitchers Mel Parnell and Joe Dobson have a combined won-lost record of 8-1.
MAY 19 – Headline: “Walking Dead.” In real life, the 1950 season did feature a seemingly high amount of walks. I've noticed that in my own replay. Maybe I'm just prone to rolling those 14s and walking batters, but there's been a ton of free passes. I've not updated my stats to this date, but in the five games he's pitched up to where my stats end, Billy Pierce has 27 walks. In real life, his 137 walks for the 1950 season tied him for the fourth most passes ever given by an AL left-hander.
MAY 26 – Headline: “Deadlock in the NL.” The National League is tied by two over achievers. The Boston Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates each compile a 21-17 record. St. Louis is a game and a half behind with a 19-16 record. Ralph Kiner finally played up to his real potential, hitting 12 home runs so far and Cliff Chambers has a 6-1 record for the Pirates. In Boston, Warren Spahn has not lost a game in six starts and he has a home run to add. Two days after this week's magazine went to press, Braves' catcher Walker Cooper hit for the cycle against Brooklyn. In the real season, Pittsburgh finished last and Boston ended up in fourth place.
JUNE 2 – Headline: “What the As?” Philadelphia’s American League team, after opening with one of the worst starts I've ever seen in my years of replays, win six in a row. Before the run, the As were 7-27. Their streak includes three games over the Yankees, including a double-header sweep.
JUNE 9 – Headline: “Cardinal Rule.” St. Louis goes 10-1 to take over first place momentarily. They are currently tied with Boston, but I keep waiting for the Braves to realize who they are and have a mid-season collapse. Stan Musial has hit 14 home runs so far, Max Lanier has a 7-3 record on the mound and Gerry Staley is 6-3 so far. Another surprise for the Redbirds is Red Schoendienst who has clubbed six home runs. In the real 1950 season, he hit seven homers.
That's as far as I've progressed in the 1950 season so far. It's a way to notice the personality of the replay; the stories that come out while rolling these games are intriguing to follow. Will the Boston Braves continue to play well? Will the Yankees dominate, or will the Red Sox and, now, the Detroit Tigers challenge them?
We'll have to wait to see what the next covers bring.