by Carl Erskine
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The Dodgers of the 1950s were not accustomed to losing. Champions in '52, '53, '55, and '56 and near misses in '50, '51, and '54, the Dodgers were always at or near the top. So, whenever we would lose two games in a row, things got serious.
On one such occasion, Charlie Dressen, our manager, had a team meeting and chewed us out royally. We then lost our third in a row. Now, Charlie used his sweet-talk treatment, telling us how great we were, real pros. Now go out there and win this one. We lost our fourth straight. After the game, Dressen ordered our clubhouse man, John Griffin, to lock the door. No writers, no visitors. Then he instructed John to get out the "good stuff." Griff thought he meant for him to open the beer cooler, which was never available unless we won. Charlie yelled, "No, get the good stuff." This meant the hard liquor, which John had stashed away and used only for writers or guests in the manager's office. So on the equipment trunks, John set out the scotch, bourbon, vodka, and Dressen's favorite, Harveys Bristol Cream sherry. Charlie called me to one side and said, "This is not for you. You're driving your buddies home to Bay Ridge." That was Preacher Roe, Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider, and Rube Walker. Then he added: "And you're pitching tomorrow."
During the next hour, our team got real loose and real loud. Finally, at about 1:30 in the morning, the party was over. When I let Preach out at his house, he was singing at the top of his voice. The next day he said he couldn't understand how Mozie heard him come in, because he had taken his shoes off.
Next day we beat the Phillies 5-1 and went on to win the National League pennant. Although the New York writers got wind of the private party, they never wrote about it. They observed the old rule sometimes posted in the clubhouse, "What you see here, what you hear here, stays here."
From Tales from the Dudger Dugout by Carl Erskine.
Copyright © 2000 by Carl Erskine. Reprinted with permission.