Pat Rispole and the 1957 Brooklyn Dodgers
Author's Note: While it is safe to say anyone who visits this blog knows something about the Brooklyn Dodgers, few people know anything about Pat Rispole. Pat lived in Schenectady, New York. He taped an astounding number of baseball games during his lifetime. In 1957 Pat taped Brooklyn Dodger broadcasts. After the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, he taped Yankee games. Beginning in 1962, Pat taped New York Met games. He taped many World Series broadcasts. Pat also recruited people from around the country to tape baseball games. Pat traded reel-to-reel tapes he had from his extensive sports and non-sports collection to people who taped baseball broadcasts for him. Pat Rispole died at the age of 53 on June 10, 1979. A portion of Pat's enormous audio collection was sold after his death to John Miley, who purchased many of Pat's sports tapes, and to Phil Gries, who purchased many of Pat's non-sports tapes. Phil has catalogued the tapes he purchased from Pat's collection and the numbers are amazing. Phil has 3,131 audio broadcasts from the years 1957 to 1977, mostly consisting of TV shows, with a few radio broadcasts mixed in. A few dozen Met and Yankee radio broadcasts from 1972 that somehow were not included in the sports tapes sold to John Miley were included in the tapes sold to Phil Gries. Pat Rispole left us with audio treasures that live on long after his death. I hope this article will inspire someone to write a more detailed article about Pat and the recordings he made.
On April 16, 1957, Pat Rispole tuned in Albany radio station WOKO, threaded a tape onto his reel-to-reel tape recorder, and pushed the record button before the Phillies Robin Roberts delivered the first pitch of the game and season to Brooklyn Dodger lead-off hitter Jim Gilliam. Twelve innings later, after a 7-6 Dodger victory, Pat had a complete-game broadcast preserved on tape. Clem Labine got the win that night, but Pat Rispole deserves credit for the save.
Twelve 1957 Brooklyn Dodger radio broadcasts, including the season opener mentioned above, are currently available for sale to the public. Years ago John Miley transferred the 1957 Brooklyn Dodger broadcasts discussed in this article from Pat Rispole's reel-to-reel tapes to cassette tapes and then later, as technology changed, to CD's. John sold the cassettes and CD's to the public through the Miley Collection. John had former Boston Red Sox broadcaster Ken Coleman put a brief statement on each cassette and CD that he sold. In every Miley Collection recording I have heard, Ken Coleman's opening remark is the same: "This is Ken Coleman speaking. We present for you another complete game broadcast from the Miley Collection. We hope that you enjoy." Well, that's good enough for me. I hope you enjoy what follows.
April 21, 1957 Pirates/Dodgers at Ebbets Field
The Dodgers brought a 3-0 season record into the first game of an Easter Sunday doubleheader against the Pittsburgh Pirates. This game, recorded by Pat, was the first Dodger loss of 1957. When the season ended, there would be sixty-nine others to add to it. Brooklyn won eighty-four games in 1957, so the Bums had a good year.
Don Newcombe was hit hard and often in this 6-3 loss to the Pirates. In the third inning, Newcombe gave up back-to-back-to-back solo homeruns to Frank Thomas, Paul Smith and Dick Groat. Newcombe was removed with one out in the third, after giving up four earned runs and seven hits. Rene Valdes pitched effectively in relief, going 3 2/3 scoreless innings before being replaced by pinch-hitter Sandy Amoros. The final Pirate runs were scored on a two-run homerun by Bob Skinner off of Sandy Koufax.
Brooklyn was held to two hits by the pitching of Vern Law, Bob Purkey and Roy Face. The Dodger runs were scored in the ninth on a three-run homerun by Carl Furillo. The only other Dodger hit was a fifth inning single by Gil Hodges.
May 7, 1957 Reds/Dodgers at Ebbets Field
A Dodger fan might not want to hear what was preserved on Pat's tape. The Cincinnati Reds won 9-2, although the game was not as lopsided as the score indicated. Going into the top of the ninth, the Dodgers trailed 4-2. Dodger relief pitchers Ed Roebuck and Ken Lehman were hit hard in the ninth, and the Reds turned a close game into a rout. Hal Jeffcoat pitched a complete game for the Reds, allowing six hits, three walks, and two unearned runs.
The major baseball headline that night was not the Dodger loss. In the second inning of the broadcast, Dodger announcer Al Helfer relayed the sad news that in the Cleveland-New York game young Indians pitcher Herb Score was hit in the face by a line drive and carried from the field on a stretcher. The injury cut short what looked to be a brilliant career.
May 14, 1957 Dodgers/Braves at County Stadium
This broadcast recorded by Pat Rispole must be heard to be believed. In 6 2/3 innings, Milwaukee starter Bob Buhl walked nine, gave up five hits, and came away with a 3-2 victory. In the sixth inning, Buhl walked the bases loaded with none out. Roy Campanella lifted a fly ball to Braves' right fielder Hank Aaron for the first out of the inning. Carl Furillo, the Dodger runner at third, was anchored to the bag even though Hank Aaron's throw was to third base. Vin Scully, mentioning to his listeners that the Dodgers had squandered a gift run, described Furillo angrily kicking the third base bag after the play was over. The baserunning gaffe was highlighted when Buhl struck out Don Zimmer and retired Don Newcombe on a pop fly to shortstop Johnny Logan to end the inning. The Dodgers scored two runs in the seventh, but the squandered chance in the sixth proved costly in a 3-2 Dodger defeat. Newcombe pitched effectively, but got the loss.
May 30, 1957 Dodgers/Pirates at Forbes Field
This first game of a Memorial Day doubleheader, recorded by Pat, was a 4-3 Dodger victory. The Dodgers won behind the pitching of Sal Maglie. Brooklyn scored its runs in the middle innings against Pirate starter Vern Law. In the fourth, Duke Snider singled in Gino Cimoli; in the fifth, Don Zimmer hit a sacrifice fly that scored Roy Campanella; and in the sixth, Duke Snider hit a two-run homerun. Clem Labine preserved the Dodger victory with 1 1/3 innings of shutout relief.
June 4, 1957 Cubs/Dodgers at Ebbets Field
To the delight of everyone who has heard this game, Pat Rispole recorded an absolute gem of a broadcast. Sandy Koufax was the Dodger starter, and as was the case so often, the combination of Koufax and Vin Scully was sensational. Read the words, but try to imagine Vin saying them:
"Just the start of things, so pull up a comfortable chair. If you want to take your shoes off, go ahead, wiggle your toes, and we hope you'll have a cold Schafer or two throughout the evening. Dodgers and Cubs opening the homestand."
"1 and 2 pitch, fast ball got him swinging, and that thing was moving, so maybe Koufax is starting to loosen up a little bit. He wasn't very fast to Morgan or Speake, but that last strike to Ernie Banks had something on it."
"The runners go, the 3-2 is cut on and fouled away down the right field line on top of the roof and out of the ballpark. So the kids that are listening to the ballgame on the soda-pop stands outside, you'll run that one down, almost to Bedford Avenue."
"Koufax ready, now the 1-1 pitch, fastball cut on and missed and that was moving, 1 and 2. So one thing I'm pretty sure about this stage of the game now, Koufax has loosened up. He appeared to be a little stiff pitching to Morgan, even though he struck him out. Pin-wheeled his arm around, did a couple of knee bends, now he's starting to pitch with a loose motion."
"We understand at the agency, that we now have a young girl writing commercial copy. And I'll bet ya her fine hand was in that last one, 'sunlight on a drift of snow.' Well, all right. (In the background, Jerry Doggett is heard saying, 'Thanks Vin.') (Vin laughing lightly) Zimmer batting .229. (The commercial played between innings and read by Jerry Doggett included the line, 'And when you lift a glass of Schaefer, man it's like sunlight on a drift of snow.')"
"And the strike one pitch, fastball cut on, there is a high foul to the right of the plate. Neeman coming back, right to the lip of the dugout, and can't make it. The ball lands on the roof. And somebody makes a great catch by the name of Barney Stein. Barney who takes great sports photos for the New York Post, he's also the Brooklyn Dodger official photographer. And that thing kangarooed from the dugout roof right up into the camera booth, and there was Barney to grab it. He dropped a nine thousand dollar camera in the process. No, not really."
"I might have said earlier, with the first two batters up there, that Koufax appeared not to be loose. But now he is firing. He struck out the side in the second inning."
Koufax no-hit the Cubs through 5 1/3 innings, striking out eight batters in the process. With Bobby Morgan on base via a walk, Bob Speake broke up the no-hitter and shutout with a homerun. The Dodgers, leading 7-2, allowed Sandy to pitch into the eighth inning, when he ran into trouble again. A single by Bobby Morgan and a walk to Bob Speake brought Ernie Banks to the plate with one out. Banks belted a three run homerun to narrow the Dodger lead to 7-5. Koufax retired Lee Walls, but when Frank Ernaga doubled, Walt Alston lifted Koufax for relief ace Clem Labine. In 7 2/3 innings, Koufax walked five, struck out twelve, and gave up five earned runs on four hits. Labine pitched out of trouble in the eighth and ninth innings to secure the Dodger victory.
The Dodger offense got started early with three first inning runs. The big hit in the inning was a two RBI double by Roy Campanella off the Schaefer scoreboard in right. Brooklyn scored three more in the third to break the game open. The final Dodger run was a fifth inning solo homer by Gil Hodges against pitcher/author Jim Brosnan.
July 14, 1957 Braves/Dodgers at Ebbets Field
A come from behind victory is always fun if your team gets the win. The Dodgers trailed 2-1 going to the bottom of the ninth in this game recorded by Pat. In the ninth, Gino Cimoli reached on a leadoff walk. Gil Hodges then belted the first pitch he saw from Braves starter Bob Buhl over the left field wall. Gil's homerun made Johnny Podres, pitching in relief of Sal Maglie, a winner by a 3-2 score.
At the close of play on July 14th the Dodgers were tied for fourth place with the Reds. The Dodgers were only 2 1/2 games behind the first place Cardinals. The sixth place Giants were nine games out.
July 20, 1957 Cubs/Dodgers at Ebbets Field
Twenty-one year old Don Drysdale was the starter and winner in this 7-5 Dodger victory recorded by Pat. The Dodgers scored four runs in the first to overcome a first inning Cub run. Ex-Cub Randy Jackson's solo homer in the sixth gave the Dodgers a 5-1 lead. The Cubs were able to make the game uncomfortably close with three unearned runs in the seventh inning. Clem Labine secured the Dodger victory with 2 1/3 innings of one run relief pitching.
After the July 20th victory, Brooklyn was in second place, 1 game behind Milwaukee. Only three games separated the top five teams in the league. The sixth place Giants were 11 games behind the Braves.
July 28, 1957 Dodgers/Reds at Crosley Field
Johnny Podres and Carl Furillo were the pitching and hitting stars in this 7-2 Brooklyn victory recorded by Pat. Podres was a masterful pitcher on the road all season long, and this two run complete game performance against the Reds was no exception. Podres fell behind 1-0 in the first after giving up a RBI single to Frank Robinson. The Dodgers tied it in the third, and then in the fourth Carl Furillo hit a grandslam against Reds starter Brooks Lawrence. The Dodgers scored two in the eighth and the Reds answered in the bottom of the inning with a Ted Kluszewski pinch hit solo homerun to finish the scoring for both teams.
At the close of play on July 28th the National League pennant race was tightly bunched at the top. The first place Braves were 1 1/2 games ahead of the third place Dodgers, and only 3 games ahead of the fifth place Phillies.
August 5, 1957 Giants/Dodgers at Ebbets Field
This game recorded by Pat was the opener of a four game series against the Giants. Don Drysdale pitched 8 2/3 innings to earn his ninth victory of the season in a 5-2 Dodger win. Clem Labine got a one out save by retiring Willie Mays on a ground ball to shortstop Charlie Neal to end the game and strand two Giant runners on base The Dodgers scored single runs in the second, third and fifth to take a 3-2 lead. Two insurance runs in the seventh made a nervous ninth inning easier to bear.
The Dodgers lost the next three games of the series to the Giants. The August 7th loss was crushing. Brooklyn gave up five runs in the ninth inning to turn a 5-3 lead into a heartbreaking 8-5 loss in a game played at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, NJ. The three defeats sent Brooklyn into a tailspin that coincided with a hot streak for Milwaukee. From August 6th to August 18th, the Dodgers played exclusively against two second divisions teams, the Pirates and Giants. During that stretch Brooklyn went 5-9. The Braves during that same stretch went 10-3 playing against two first division teams, the Reds and Cardinals. At the close of play on August 18th, Brooklyn was in third place, 7 1/2 games behind first place Milwaukee. Brooklyn was still in a pennant race, but things were not looking good.
August 31, 1957 Giants/Dodgers at Ebbets Field
This 7-5 Dodger victory recorded by Pat was the next to last game ever played between the Dodgers and Giants at Ebbets Field. Ed Roebuck was the pitching and hitting star. Roebuck pitched 3 1/3 innings of shutout relief and hit a solo homerun. The Dodgers took a 4-2 lead in the fifth inning on a two run homerun by Gil Hodges. The Giants took the lead away in the sixth on three unearned runs. With two outs and none on in the bottom of the sixth, Roebuck singled to start a two run rally that gave the Dodgers the lead. Roebuck added an insurance run with his homerun in the eighth.
Brooklyn was in second place after the victory, 7 games behind Milwaukee. A doubleheader loss to the Phillies at Ebbets Field a few days later on Labor Day all but eliminated the Dodgers in the pennant race. The double defeat dropped the Dodgers to third place, 10 games behind the Braves.
September 8, 1957 Dodgers/Giants at the Polo Grounds
This Sunday afternoon game is the last game of the season currently available to the public from the recordings Pat Rispole made of 1957 Brooklyn Dodger broadcasts. Any baseball fan with a sense of history should listen to it. The game, the last meeting ever between the historic New York rivals, was won by the Giants, 3-2. Jerry Doggett broadcast the first four innings and a somber Vin Scully took over in the top of the fifth. Vin, contemplating the likely departure of the Dodgers and Giants from New York at the end of the season, was at his brilliant best:
"I don't know how you feel about it at the other end of these microphones, whether you are sitting at home, or driving a car, on the beach or anywhere, but I know sitting here watching the Giants and Dodgers apparently playing for the last time at the Polo Grounds, you want them to take their time, 2-0 pitch is low ball three, you just feel like saying: Now don't run off the field so fast fellas, let's take it easy, we just want to take one last lingering look at both of you."
"Yes, the Giants and the Dodgers, baseball's greatest rivalry, being played for perhaps the last time at the Polo Grounds. And it doesn't make you feel very good."
"Well it's funny, but being a kid raised in New York and you sit here watching this ballgame and looking at the Polo Grounds, and your memories go wild. Strike one pitch to Gino is down low. Not just baseball, they had some great football games, and great stars who played here at the P.G. You can almost see them running around out there...... Did you ever see a Fordham-St, Mary's football game, years ago before the war? That's something you remember."
"We roll to the last of the sixth inning in this ballgame, the last time these two teams will play at the Polo Grounds. Memories, memories."
"And so to the ninth inning, what very well may be the last inning ever played here at the Polo Grounds between the Giants and the Dodgers."
"So if it is the last inning of the last game to ever be played between the Giants and the Dodgers here at the Polo Grounds, if time is going to slam the door on this great rivalry over here, then Sandy Amoros has the privilege of being the fellow with his foot in the door, trying to keep it open. Amoros hitting for Eddie Roebuck."
"Marv [Grissom] ready, the 1-1 pitch to Amoros, cut on and bounced down to O'Connell, Danny up with it, he throws, that does it. The New York Giants saying good-bye to the Dodgers and vice-versa here at the Polo Grounds and the Giants win it 3-2. We'd be remiss [not] to say it's kind of a sad day for everybody concerned, if this will be the final game played here."
"And you just kind of say good-bye and let it go at that. I guess everybody has his own thoughts, and that will do it. Final score 3-2 New York."
Although the September 8th Dodger-Giant game is the last recording made by Pat from the 1957 Dodger season that is currently available for sale to the public, one other game, the last game ever played by the Brooklyn Dodgers, is so significant that I would like to review it briefly. No article about the Dodgers final year in Brooklyn would be complete without it.
On September 29th the Brooklyn Dodgers ended the 1957 season at Connie Mack Stadium against the Philadelphia Phillies. Ed Bouchee hit a two-run homerun to give Philadelphia the only runs they needed in a 2-1 victory. Brooklyn born Sandy Koufax was the last pitcher to throw a pitch for the Brooklyn Dodgers when he retired Willie Jones on a strikeout. The catcher who caught Sandy's last pitch was Brooklyn-born Joe Pignatano. In the ninth, Bob Kennedy hit a fly ball to Phillies centerfielder Richie Ashburn for the final out of the game and season.
The next Dodger regular season home game was played in Los Angeles. The 1958 Dodger home opener was not broadcast on an upstate New York radio station. If it had been, Pat Rispole probably would have recorded it.
Sources and notes:
Retrosheet was on my computer almost constantly while I wrote this article. What a fantastic website. The information on Retrosheet is free and copyrighted by Retrosheet. Interested parties may contact Retrosheet at www.retrosheet.org.
The broadcasts recorded by Pat Rispole were the other main source I used in writing this article. John Miley has released some of Pat's many baseball recordings, including all the Brooklyn Dodger radio broadcasts I have discussed in this article, in his Miley Collection. I have been a customer of John since basically forever. He has never failed to provide quick and reliable shipment of the orders I have placed with him. I thank John for a lengthy phone conversation I had with him several years ago. I didn't take any notes about the conversation at the time, but notes weren't needed. What John told me was so interesting I could not forget it. I am not sure I would have written this article unless I had that conversation with John Miley.
Phil Gries has been very helpful to me from my first email to him. Phil purchased many of Pat Rispole's non-sports tapes. I thank him for some very interesting emails. Phil attended the July 4, 1957 doubleheader at Ebbets Field against the Pirates. How I envy him; I wish I had seen a game at Ebbets Field. Phil lived in Brooklyn on Bedford Avenue, which makes him a legend in my book.
I spoke on the phone to John Furman, a friend of Pat, for about twenty minutes on February 15, 2010. I thank him for an interesting conversation about his friend. I also thank Paul Thompson, who sent me informative emails about taping baseball games for Pat and getting tapes from Pat in return.
Thanks, too, to Donald from Detroit, AKA Polo Grounds 1957, whose last name I do not know and whose internet comment years ago made me aware for the first time of the name of the fellow who taped all the games that I enjoyed hearing so very much.
I also thank Pat Rispole. RIP. In my phone conversation with John Furman, John described Pat as being quiet, articulate, kind, and generous. Anyone who enjoys listening to baseball broadcasts from the 1950's and 60's should join me in thanking Pat, for he is the person most responsible for the rich audio history we have of baseball radio broadcasts from that era. I have enjoyed writing about him. I hope the readers of this blog have enjoyed learning a little about someone who did so much to preserve an important part of baseball history.
Update (4/16/10): Stan received his wish as Jennifer Gish of the timesunion.com wrote a "more detailed article about Pat and the recordings he made." Congrats to Stan and Pat.