Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (October 1, 1941)
70,000 MAY SEE WORLD SERIES OPEN
Davis and Ruffing probable pitchers in initial battle of diamond classic
New York, Sept. 30 (AP) –
Curt Davis, slim slider-ball specialist of the Brooklyn Dodgers, sprang up today as the probable surprise starter against Charley “Red” Ruffing of the New York Yankees in tomorrow’s opening game of the World Series.
A forecast of showers threatened the initial contest of baseball’s annual classic but fans began gathering from all over the country today and refused to be discouraged at the outlook. A crowd of 70,000 was expected to pack the big Yankee Stadium to capacity before game time at 1:30 p.m. ET.
The chief topic of conversation in the crowded hotel lobbies where the baseball notables and fans congregated tonight was the prospect of the Dodgers withholding their ace, John Whitlow Wyatt, from the opening tussle, and leading off with Davis.
Manager Leo Durocher allowed the mystery to continue and there was good reason to believe that some super strategy had been mapped out for Brooklyn’s pitching staff during the series.
Davis has a low-breaking curver that almost everybody expects to torment the Yankees, whom he shut out once last spring in an exhibition game. Next to Wyatt, he is considered to have the best chance of any Brooklyn pitcher to beat the champions of the American League.
The reasons for starting with him are twofold.
Because he has a chance to handcuff the Yanks, Durocher would like to use him twice during the series if the struggle goes six or seven games. He is 35 years old and thin as the fence posts of his native Missouri. He has to have plenty of rest between games and the best way to give him a lot of rest is to use him in the opening game.
The other factor influencing a decision in favor of Davis, who won 13 games and lost seven in the National League season, relates to Wyatt. The tall, bald Georgian, winner of 22 games against 10 losses, can work on two days rest if necessary. He is also a good right-handed hitter as well as pitcher. The Dodgers have a hunch that Manager Joe McCarthy’s mound selection for the second game will be Lefty Marius Russo because southpaws were used to some advantage against the Dodgers during their long pennant fight.
With Russo on the mound, Wyatt would mean added offensive strength for Brooklyn.
Durocher did not attend the Dodgers’ workout today because of a meeting called by Commissioner Kenesaw M. Landis to discuss paying rules with the managers and umpires.
Coach Charles Dressen, who was in charge of practice, asserted he could not say who would go for the Dodgers, but have a cryptic hint:
I am pretty sure Leo has made up his mind and it may be a surprise to some people. Sometimes it is a good idea not to play your strength against the other fellow’s strength.
This strategy would bring up Kirby Higbe, another 22-game winner with a blazing fastball, for the third game of the series. The subsequent hurlers then would be determined in respect to whether the Dodgers were ahead or behind at that stage.
Ruffing’s selection was announced definitely by McCarthy during the Yankees’ workout this morning. The big, 36-year-old right-hander won 15 games and lost six this season and held onto his ratting as the dean of the Yankee pitching staff. He has won five out of six times in previous series and is a hard opponent to handle when the stakes are important.
After Ruffing, the Yanks are expected to use Russo, Spud Chandler and Ernie Bonham, but no one could guess in what order, and McCarthy’s choice for the second game undoubtedly would be based on the results achieved in the first.
The Yankees were established as 5–8 odds-on favorites for the first game and 1–2 favorites for the series. In other words, you would have to put up $8 to win five on the Yanks in the first game and $10 to win five on the series.
The experts were in virtually unanimous agreement that the series would go from five to seven games, ending the string of straight-game sweeps the Yankees piled up in overwhelming the Chicago Cubs in 1936 and the Cincinnati Reds in 1939.