(Gov. Phil Murphy announced this afternoon that schools would be closed through the end of the academic year due to precautions taken under the coronavirus pandemic. So this is an appropriate time to find a good baseball read when we have time away from our schoolwork. Why not check in with fascinating New Jersey resident Snuffy Stirnweiss, who just kept running into big historical moments).
The Yankees four games to three victory over the Dodgers in the 1947 World Series was a wild ride heard by millions on the radio and viewed, for the first time, by an albeit significantly smaller television audience.
The amazing and thrilling ‘47 Series capped the Dodgers’ Jackie Robinson’s first major league season. It wasn’t Robinson, however, who stole the show captured incredibly in Kevin Cook’s remarkable book, “Electric October: Seven World Series Games, Six Lives, Five Minutes of Fame That Lasted Forever.”
If you love baseball, and we know you do, “Electric October” is a terrific read that cannot be missed and is an excellent cure for the baseball blues that set in during the cold off-season, and now during the coronavirus pandemic.
One of the six protagonists in the book, Yankees second baseman George “Snuffy” Stirnweiss, it turns out, lived in Red Bank, N.J. and even coached football at Red Bank Catholic High School in 1954. Stirnweiss had retired from baseball two years earlier and was pressed into service by the local booster club when the current coach fell ill.
Stirnweiss, an All-American halfback at University of North Carolina, proved to be an exceptional novice at the coaching game. His 1954 Red Bank Catholic squad won a state title but he turned down an offer to coach the next year. “High school football was too much pressure,” he said. Nice to see times haven’t changed much. Snuffy didn’t seem to be bothered by the pressure in the ‘47 Series. He had seven hits in the seven games, including a triple and three RBI, more importantly fielding his position at second base in spectacular fashion.
The other protagonists in “Electric October” are such baseball mortals as the Dodgers’ Cookie Lavagetto, Al Gionfriddo and manager Burt Shotton, and the Yankees’ Bill Bevens and manager Bucky Harris. Lavagetto ended Bevens’ no-hit bid on a game-winning double with two-outs in the ninth inning of Game 4. Gionfriddo, of course, made a spectacular catch to rob Joe DiMaggio of a game-tying extra-base hit in Game 6.
On Sept. 15, 1958, Stirnweiss, retired from baseball and just 39, was on his way to New York City for an interview with CBS TV. The train he was riding from Red Bank never made it to New York, derailing and crashing into Newark Bay. Stirnweiss and many others were killed in the tragic accident.
“Electric October” shines new light on the six unlikely protagonists of the amazing 1947 World Series and where their individual lives went from there.