Strange But True: Racing the Rain

In 1950 the Brooklyn Dodgers were fighting for the National League pennant. Every game was important to them, and they couldn’t afford to lose–not even to the weather.

One day the Dodgers were playing the Boston Braves in Boston. The Dodgers were ahead, but dark, threatening clouds were racing toward the park. The Braves were at bat in the bottom of the fifth inning. If the Dodgers could get three outs before the downpour, they would win. Otherwise the game would be called off and would have to be finished another day.

“Red” Barber, the Dodgers’ great play-by-play radio announcer, was describing the action for Dodger fans back home. Sitting high in the Boston press box, he had a perfect view of the clouds. Soon he was announcing the game as if it were a race between the Dodger pitcher and the storm.

When the first Boston batter went out, Barber reported that the rain could be seen falling twelve blocks away. It was moving quickly, but so was the Dodger pitcher. The downpour was only five blocks away when the second Boston batter went down. Now Boston’s Sam Jethroe came to the plate, and Barber reported that the first drops of rain were falling in left field.

Jethroe swung and hit a ground ball to shortstop Pee Wee Reese. According to Barber, the first drops were falling on the peak of Resse’s cap as he scooped up the ball and gunned it over to first for the final out. Then both teams raced off the field just as the rain began to come down in buckets.

But the full five innings had been played. And the Dodgers won in what was probably the strangest dramatic moment Red Barber ever described.

In 1906 a goalie named Fred Brophy of the Montreal Westmounts became the first one at his position to score a goal. He got possession of the puck near his own goal. While the opposing Quebec team stared, Brophy skated down the ice and shot the puck past goalie Paddy Moran. A couple of years later Brophy scored another goal!

In 1876 a pitcher named Joe Borden of Boston hurled the first no-hitter in the history of the National League. But Borden couldn’t leave well enough alone. Soon after the game he changed his style of pitching and began to lose his stuff. Borden went steadily downhill, and by the end of the season he was no longer a pitcher–he was the club’s groundkeeper.

From The Giant Book of Strange But True Sports Stories by Howard Liss. Illustrations by Joe Mathieu.

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When you can walk its length, and leave no trace, you will have learned.

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