If you make it this far in a replay, it's a landmark, a milestone and a motivation to continue on to see how the season turns out.
In my 1950 replay, the New York Yankees have all but captured the American League pennant. As of Sept. 4, 1950, the team is 9 games in front of Boston with a 93-40 record. Unless I see the biggest collapse in any replay I've ever done, the Yanks should soon be selling World Series tickets.
But the National League is a different story, and two doubleheaders on the 1950 Labor Day took on the big-game feel.
Brooklyn traveled to Boston for two while Philadelphia hosted the league-leading Giants.
When Sept. 4 began, here were how the four teams fared in the standings:
NY Giants 75-55
It's been a close race during the season. Boston led for much of the way, but the Giants, with Sal Maglie on the mound and Monte Irvin at bat, surged ahead in mid-August. The games had the pennant-race feel to them.
Brooklyn at Boston
Game 1 – Don Newcombe pitched the entire game for the Dodgers and Johnny Sain lasted eight innings for Boston before he gave up four runs. The teams were scoreless through five innings. Sain was perfect through the first three innings and only gave up a double to Duke Snider through five innings.
But in the sixth, Brooklyn scored two and then added four more runs on singles and sacrifice flies. It wasn't an impressive slugfest for the Bums, but they took the victory, 6-0. Newcome earned his 20th victory of the season.
Game 2 – Gil Hodges slammed a home run in the second, giving the Dodgers a 2-0 lead that held through eight and two-third innings. Preacher Roe gave up only four hits, but Warren Spahn hurled a masterpiece of his own, giving up five hits while on the mound.
The Dodgers were hoping for a second shutout, but with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Earl Torgeson slapped a single and Bob Elliott, the Braves' third baseman who had gone 0 for 7 in the two games up to that point, launched his own homer into the Braves Field bleachers. The game headed into extra innings knotted at 2 apiece.
In the tenth inning, Tommy Brown hit a Bobby Hogue pitch into the stands and the Bums led, 4-2. Dan Bankhead picked up his 10th save and the Dodgers swept Boston. Now they had to see how the Giants would do.
New York Giants at Philadelphia
Game 1 – As the first NASCAR race began in Darlington, S.C., on Sept. 4, 1950, the Phillies were taking the field in Shibe Park some 550 miles to the north. New York took a quick 2-0 lead after the Giant's half of the first, but Philadelphia battled back, scoring lone runs in the second and fourth innings, both on sacrifice flies by Mike Golait. But Monte Irvin drove in two runs in the fifth inning for the Giants and New York held on to win, 6-4.
Game 2 – The Phillies, which won the National League pennant in real life that year, have been a frustrating team to replay. The frustration mounted again after they built a 10-3 lead in the seventh and then watched in horror as the Giants began chipping away.
Philadelphia starter Ken Johnson opened the eighth by walking Eddie Stanky and then giving up a single to Don Mueller. Irvin then hit a double and drove them both in and forcing Phillies manager Eddie Sawyer to go to the bullpen. But Blix Donnelly was shelled as well, loading the bases before catcher Wes Westrum stroked a double and cleared the bases. He struck out Stanky, though, ending the inning and Philadelphia still led, 10-9.
After a scoreless bottom of the eighth, Sawyer called Jim Konstanty in to end the game. Konstanty is one of the few bright spots on this replay team and he came through yet again, getting a pop out and two fly outs to end the game and earn his 23rd save.
So, after the two doubleheaders, the standings changed to reflect this:
New York 76-56
When the day was over, Brooklyn picked up one game on the Giants and are two and a half games behind. The Dodgers travel to Philadelphia next for a two-game series and then on to the Polo Grounds for two against the Giants. The Braves head to New York for their own two-game series. They will also play the Giants on Sept 23 and 24 in Boston and then end the season with two more games in New York.
It looks like this could go down to the wire, and the games in the National League bear watching closely as the season continues.