Short Stops

Daughter’s Memories

Kay and Walter O’Malley celebrate daughter Terry O’Malley’s 21st birthday at Ebbets Field on May 16, 1954. Photo by Barney Stein

What was it like to be Walter O’Malley’s daughter and lose the National League Pennant to the rival New York Giants in the final playoff game? Terry O’Malley Seidler still recalls the circumstances of October 3, 1951.

She left the College of New Rochelle to take the train to New York. “I got a ride to the New Rochelle station and on the train into New York; everyone was talking about the game. Then I began to worry that it would be a sell-out and maybe I wouldn’t be able to get a ticket. Strangely enough it wasn’t a packed house and I bought a ticket, got in during the second inning, found my parents. After pitching Sunday, “Newk” came back and pitched 8 innings. The Giants got a run in the 7th but the Dodgers came back with 3 in the top of the 8th off (Sal) Maglie. With one out in the bottom of the 9th, Dodgers leading 4-1, Newk ran out of steam. (Ralph) Branca came in with runners on 2nd and 3rd, got strike one and the next pitch was the one Bobby Thomson hit into the left field stands to win the pennant for the Giants. Tragedy! Tears!

“Pop, Buzzie Bavasi and Fresco Thompson felt they should go into the Dodger clubhouse and it was decided Mom would drive me back to campus. For a while we couldn’t even talk about the game and I finally grumbled something about how God wasn’t hearing our prayers today. Mom calmly said she believed there were some favors we wanted that it wasn’t fair to pray for. ‘Do you think God wears a Dodger hat one day and a Giant hat another time? Better to pray that the players do their best and no one gets hurt — and that we will learn from baseball to be gracious winners and be good losers.’ What’s good about losing? ‘Well for one thing a good loser doesn’t pout, blame others, alibi or make life miserable for those around them. Before you know it, Spring Training will start and life will begin again.’ I got the message — but the winter of ’51 was a very long one.

“So October 3, 1951 was one of the saddest days of my young life — but it also gave me two of the sweetest memories — my mother philosophizing about winning and losing a ballgame when her heart was breaking too — and then when we pulled up in front of my dorm, Joe Scully, the old professor of philosophy was standing out in front. He gave me a hug and although he hadn’t met Mom before, hugged her and said, “I was afraid the O’Malleys all jumped into the Harlem River.” We had to smile — the first time since Bobby Thomson hit the ‘Shot Heard ’Round the World that cold and gloomy afternoon.”