Top photo via the Tampa Tribune; middle photo via Sports-Venue; bottom photo via @OTBaseballPhotos
"You know how, when somebody hits a home run in right ﬁeld at Ebbets Field, Red Barber describes the ball as clearing the fence and descending upon Bedford Avenue?" the writers begin casually. "Well, with the [1953 Yankees-Dodgers] Series descending upon us, we got to wondering what happens to all those out-of-the-park balls, so we went right over to Bedford Avenue and found out." What they discover isn't terribly surprising: a home run ball is worth some dough among the kids gathered outside the right field fence. "The best customers for souvenir baseballs are fathers eager to take something home to junior," Bunzel, McCallister, and Gill report. The player most likely to hit a homer for junior? Duke Snider.
A month or so ago, the Duke hit a home run over the right-center ﬁeld scoreboard that wrecked a window at Young Motors, a Plymouth-De Soto salesroom on the far side of Bedford Avenue. The Duke may have been taking it sort of easy that day. Ten or twelve times a summer, when he really puts his back into it, he knocks letters off the Young Motors sign, several feet above the show window. Everybody at Young Motors roots for the Duke, though. Glad to have the sign and window go in a good cause.
|Hopeful glances upward.|
From the September 26, 1953 issue of The New Yorker
...a couple of years back, and as sure as he was standing there, a home-run ball went through the roof of a convertible he was servicing, out the side window of the convertible, then rolled through the open door of the station and ended up against the belly of a cat who was asleep there and didn’t even bother to wake up-—just curled her paws around the ball and went on snoozing.The roving reporters are then startled, when, "as the attendant was telling us these things, who should arrive in a powder-blue Cadillac but [Dodgers pitcher] Preacher Roe, with [pitcher] Carl Erskine on the seat beside him. 'Hi ya, Preach!' the attendant cried. Preach said to ﬁll her up."
|From the Brooklyn Daily Eagle|
discovered "Dodger Outfielder Snared Homer 100 Feet Outside Ebbets," by Paul Gould in the November 18, 1952 Brooklyn Daily Eagle (left). In his article Gould describes an incident very similar to what The New Yorker discovered a year later.
The story went like this: Dodgers fan Dick Williams, his injured shoulder in a sling, had parked his car at Dodger's Service Station, as many fans and even some Dodgers players did, and before he ventured into the park stopped to chat with the service station's owner, Adolph Friedel. "The third inning has just started when a roar—only too familiar to Dick's ears—cascaded across Flatbush [Avenue]. A home run was obviously on the fly."
The two—WilIlams and Friedel—had been chatting in front of the huge plate glass window. At the the burst of sound, they instinctively looked up. Sure enough, the ball—-smacked by [Boston Braves rookie Eddie] Mathews off Joe Black—was taking wing and heaving to. A second before it could crash into the window, Williams leaped high and with his good hand speared it.The article ends with another reason why neighborhood parks may have vanished. Friedel, a huge Dodgers fan, nonetheless witnessed a less happy side to local Dodgers adulation:
But Matthews never knew of the off-the-record play and the Dodgers don't—until now— the bill they could have gotten far that window, some 400 feet from home plate. On another occasion, in practice, Rube Walker did smash it and the Dodgers paid. Cheerfully, too, as they are covered by insurance.
...dozens of kids black out his business by lining up to catch homers during the game and hundreds, afterward, swarm on the sidewalk for autographs. Business is shot.
"It's murder," Friedel muttered. "Gad, I love those Dodgers, but it's murder, that's what."