Hey baseball fans!
Matt Nadel here with another ML”what would”B guest blog for More Than A Fan. In case you missed the first post in this series (What if George Steinbrenner bought the Cleveland Indians), let me tell you what this blog series is all about: basically, I take important moments in baseball history and tell you what I think would have happened if different things occurred. This blog is about a splinter and a clipper.
Ted Williams played very poorly in the 1946 World Series (which would turn out to be the only World Series he ever played in) because he thought that after the series, he was going to be traded to the Yankees for Joe DiMaggio. That didn’t happen, and the Cards kept the Curse of the Bambino alive that year. However, what would have happened if the trade had actually been made? Well, Joltin’ Joe would have acclimated pretty well in his first season in Boston, hitting 32 homers, batting .311, and driving in 92 runs. Ted, on the other hand, would have had a pretty down season for his standards, hitting “only” 23 homers and “only” batting .303. He does, however, put on a show in the 1947 World Series against Brooklyn, hitting out two homers and driving in six runs, while batting .425, as the Yanks, with the help of Rookie of the Year Award winner Yogi Berra, crush the Dodgers in the Fall Classic, winning in five games, with Ted winning the World Series MVP. Sadly, after a third place finish in that season, the Red Sox trade Joe to the Browns in St. Louis. Significant? Of course! The Browns don’t win any pennants but they become a contender in the AL for the next four years, until Joe retires in ’51. The Red Sox, after the “Doubles Stopper” (Joe’s nickname he earned in Boston because of his amazing outfield speed that helped him stop doubles), resume their place at the bottom of the AL standings until the Curse is broken in 2004.
Meanwhile, back in the Bronx, Ted improves drastically from his “sub-par” ’47 season, batting .345 and hitting 207 homers and 596 RBIs over the next six years, while helping the Yanks win five straight World Series, from 1949-53. In 1950 he wins his second career Triple Crown, with a .367 batting average, 53 homers, and 166 RBIs (in real life, his second Triple Crown was in 1947). Remember, the Bronx Bombers got Mickey Mantle in ’51, so Ted wasn’t carrying the entire team on his back.
In St. Louis, Joe takes over as the owner of the Browns in 1952 and decides to move the team. Him being himself, he didn’t want to own a team 3,000 miles away from his mom (the Browns moved to Baltimore in 1953 and became the Orioles), so he moves his team the closest he can to his family, the City of San Francisco. The only question was, what would the team be called? Question answered, the San Francisco 50ers, after the year California became a state, 1850. Wait, isn’t there already a team in SF named after a certain year in California history? Eh, whatever.
Anyway, the 50ers get rolling when they acquire second-year center fielder from the Giants, Willie Mays, who leads San Fran to an AL pennant in 1954. The World Series that year features Willie’s underdog 50ers against Vic Wertz’s favored Giants. Wertz was acquired mid-season by the Giants from the 50ers (in real life, he went from the Browns to the Indians mid-season). In the eighth inning of Game One with men on first and second, Vic hits a long drive to center field, a ball that would have gone out in any ballpark, except for the one the teams were playing in, the Polo Grounds. Willie runs about 300 feet and at the last second before hitting the wall, proceeds to make an improbable no-look, over the shoulder, basket catch, saving at least two runs. The 50ers end up winning the game and the Series in a four game sweep, giving San Francisco its first championship.
In 1957, the Giants and Dodgers both decide to move. Brooklyn relocates to LA, but where do the Giants go, considering the 50ers are already by the bay? Well, question answered (again), as the Giants move to San Diego! Do you know what this means? The San Diego Giants can’t have Lou Seal as their mascot because he is already the mascot for the 50ers, so that means the Giants’ mascot is a giant walking and talking palm tree named Peter! YAY! Well, at least one team has to have a corny mascot, here in the ML”what would”B.