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Mickey Owen Drops 3rd Strike – Dodgers Lose Series – October 5, 1941

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One of the most bizarre, and dramatic plays in the history of baseball.

Let’s set the stage.

It’s another October and what do you know? The Yankees are playing in the World Series. It’s only the 12th time in the last 21 years.

But who are these guys they’re playing, the Brooklyn Dodgers? Well they haven’t won a pennant since 1920. But don’t sell these Dodgers short. These are not the same bums from the 1920s and 1930s, who couldn’t draw flies to Ebbets Field. These Dodgers had a record of 100-54. (Okay, the Yankees were 101-53. So what’s a game?) They had three .300 hitters (Dixie Walker .311, Joe Medwick .319 and league leader Peter Reiser .341. They also featured the NationalLeague MVP winner, Dolph Camilli who hit 34 home runs along with 120 RBIs. The Dodgers even had a pair of 20-game winners on their pitching staff (Kirby Higbe 20-9, and Whit Wyatt 22-10).

But the Yankees are the Yankees. They take the opener 3-2. The Dodgers come back though, and win game two, also by a score of 3-2. The series moves from the Bronx to Brooklyn and Yanks win another squeaker, 2-1. And now it’s game four at Ebbets Field. Top of the ninth, Yankees batting. They trail the Dodgers 4-3 and are down to their final out.

Hugh Casey is on the mound for the Dodgers.

He strikes out Tommy Henrich. Game over, series tied! Uh oh, not so fast.

The “strikeout” pitch that fools Henrich is so bad, it’s in the dirt. But Dodgers’ catcher Mickey Owen, can’t find it either. The ball dribbles toward the back stop, Henrich runs to first. It’s not even close, he is safe.

Now Carey gets to face Joe Dimaggio.

Dimaggio singles to left, Henrich moves to second. Then Charlie Keller doubles and both Henrich and Dimaggio score. By this time Casey has lost his composure (Can you imagine that?) and walks Bill Dickey and gives up a double to Joe Gordon. Keller and Dickey both score.
When the inning finally ends the Yankees lead 7-4. And the Dodgers go down one-two-three in their half of the ninth inning.

The Yankees lead the series 3-1. The next day they finish off the Dodgers, beating them 3-1. And in case you’re wondering –

A batter is out when-

6.05 (b) A third strike is legally caught by the catcher;

Rule 6.05(b) Comment: “Legally caught” means in the catcher’s glove before the ball touches the ground. It is not legal if the ball lodges in his clothing or paraphernalia; or if it touches the umpire and is caught by the catcher on the rebound. If a foul tip first strikes the catcher’s glove and then goes on through and is caught by both hands against his body or protector, before the ball touches the ground, it is a strike, and if third strike, batter is out. If smothered against his body or protector, it is a catch provided the ball struck the catcher’s glove or hand first.

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