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Remembering Jackie Robinson

You're going to read a lot today about the start of Jackie Robinson's major-league career, but my focus will be on one particular game related to the conclusion of his playing days.

Game 6 of the 1956 World Series took place a day following a perfect game by Yankees pitcher Don Larsen and it was a worthy follow-up to that masterpiece, though it's not anywhere near as heralded.

The Yankees were one victory away from clinching the series, ahead 3 games to 2, but the Dodgers were determined to deny their championship and force a seventh game. It was a bright, sunny afternoon, and that would play a role in this contest.

Both Dodgers starter Clem Labine and Yankees starter Bob Turley pitched masterfully, though Turley walked eight, two intentionally, matching shutout frame for shutout frame. Labine escaped jams by getting Mickey Mantle out in the third and Billy Martin in the sixth with two men on base. Turley survived two major threats, in the sixth and eighth, and both required retiring Robinson with men on base.

The game went scoreless into the 10th inning and after the Yankees were set down in order, the Dodgers efforted a rally to produce victory. With one out, Jim Gilliam drew Turley's eighth walk and Pee Wee Reese's successful sacrifice advanced him to second base. In the eighth, Turley had purposely passed Duke Snider to pitch to Robinson and chose to do so again in this circumstance.

In the eighth, Robinson managed only a meager popup. This time he would do a little better. On a 1-1 count, he whacked Turley's pitch to left field. It was a low line drive and leftfielder Enos Slaughter had trouble seeing the ball through the sun. The trouble led to the ball falling behind him, allowing Gilliam to score the winning run and making Robinson a World Series hero for the day.

Though it should be noted that the Yankees did win Game 7 the next day, I thought it neat that on a day we remember Jackie Robinson for having the courage to walk on to a baseball field that we could also remember him for a walk off it. In both cases, he did so as a winner.

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