Mickey Owen the “Goat” of the 1941 World Series

Mickey Owen the “Goat” of the 1941 World Series

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Game Seven Tonight!

As we get ready to enjoy Game Seven of a truly exciting World Series, let’s hope the “best team wins.” Errors and miscues are always magnified in the World Series, and they can last forever, tarnishing the reputation of even the best players. So let’s hope everyone plays well and there’s no scapegoat…

…As there was in 1941:

Mickey Owen the “Goat” of the 1941 World Series

“That was a tough break for Mickey to get. I bet he feels like a nickel’s worth of dog meat!” –Yankee Tommy Henrich, the beneficiary of Mickey Owen’s passed ball.

1941 was a great season, one of the greatest in baseball history. It saw Ted Williams hit .406, Joe DiMaggio hit safely in 56 straight games, and the Dodgers win their first pennant since 1920.

In the World Series, the Dodgers faced a powerful Yankee lineup that included Joe DiMaggio, Bill Dickey, Charlie Keller, Joe Gordon and Tommy Henrich. This was one of the best teams ever. Unfortunately, Mickey Owen became the “goat” of the Series, committing one of the most notorious misplays in World Series history. His passed ball occurred in Game Four; and, like the Lombardi “Snooze” in 1939, it was another World Series incident with Joe DiMaggio at the center of the action.

Click on the link to see a photo tribute to Mickey Owen and the 1941 World Series: 

The Yankees led the series 2-1 entering Game Four at Ebbets Field. With the Dodgers leading 4–3, two outs and the bases empty in the top of the ninth, and a full count on Tommy Henrich, the Dodgers were one strike away from victory, one strike away from evening the series at two games. Hugh Casey delivered a slow breaking curve. Henrich swung and missed! The game was over!

…Or was it? 

With 33,813 Flatbrush faithful ready to erupt into a victory celebration, the infamous passed ball reared its ugly head. Mickey Owen chased after it all the way to the backstop. The crowd gasped as Henrich made it easily to first without a play. A great Yankee team was given a second chance, with Joe DiMaggio on deck. And then the wheels came off…

As if following a script, the reliable DiMaggio followed with a single. Keller then hit a clutch double to drive in Henrich and DiMaggio. Bill Dickey walked and then scored along with Keller on Joe Gordon’s double. Suddenly – hardly before anyone realized what just happened – the score was 7-4. Somehow the passed ball had ignited a two out, four run Yankee rally. 

In the bottom of the ninth, the demoralized Dodgers offered little resistance and went down in order before the stunned Ebbets Field fans. Instead of the series being tied, the victory gave the Yankees a 3–1 series lead. It was all over but the crying for Brooklyn. Building on their momentum, the next day the Yankees beat the demoralized Dodgers 3-1. The 1941 World Series was over. 

 As Red Smith described the reaction of the Brooklyn fans: “Their mouths were open, their breath was indrawn for the last, exultant yell – and then ‘The Thing’ happened. Mickey Owen missed the ball, and defeat was somehow snatched from the jaws of victory.”

Well…all we can say is, “That’s baseball!” Let’s hope all goes well tonight…with no repeats!

-Gary Livacari

Photo Credits: All from Google search

Information: Excerpts edited from the 1941 World Series Wikipedia page.

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I'm a baseball historian who also loves to write. My forte is identifying ballplayers in old photos, and my specail interest is the Dead Ball Era.

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