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'59 Dodger home run helped drench a Sox lead, and outfielder, in beer

’59 Dodger home run helped drench a Sox lead, and outfielder, in beer

Oct. 2, 1959: Two views of Chicago White Sox outfielder Al Smith getting drenched by a cup of beer during the 1959 World Series. Fans tried to catch Los Angeles Dodger Charlie Neal’s fifth-inning home run, but instead spilled a cup of beer.

Credits: Left photo by Ray Gora of Chicago Tribune. Right photo by Charles E. Knoblock of Associated Press.

The 1959 World Series opened on Oct. 1, 1959, with the Los Angeles Dodgers dropping Game 1 11-0 to the Chicago White Sox. Game 2, played in Comiskey Park, saw the White Sox take an early 2-0 lead.

In the fifth inning, Neal tied the score with a two-run homer — dumping beer and the White Sox momentum.

The right photo was published in the Oct. 3, 1959, Los Angeles Times. An accompanying Associated Press story reported:

CHICAGO, Oct. 2 (AP) – Charlie Neal hit that fifth-inning home run into the lower left-field stands today and:

A fan in the first row leaped up to try to catch the ball.

In so doing he knocked over a paper cup of beer that had been standing on the rail in front of his seat.

Al Smith, the Chicago White Sox left fielder, backed up against the wall in front of that section of the grandstand.

The beverage poured down on Smith’s head.

In baseball summary form the incident probably would be scored as follows:

One hit, one run, one (social) error, nothing left in the cup.

Neal hit a second home run and the Dodgers won 4-3. The Dodgers took the series in six games.

The left photo later appeared in the Sep. 28, 1975, Los Angeles Times as part of a series of historic photos reissued by Associated Press. The accompany text explained:

On Oct. 2, 1959, Ray Gora of the Chicago Tribune was in the photographers’ perch over third base, Comiskey Park, during the second game of the World Series between the Chicago White Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Sox led 2 to 0 when Dodger second baseman Charlie Neal belted one toward left field and Al Smith raced back to the stands.

Goa focused on Smith, thinking, perhaps, that there might be a spectacular leap at the wall. He snapped his picture at the golden moment, noticing through his viewfinder what looked like popcorn spilling. A second later, he saw Smith wiping his dripping face and knew he had something wetter and better.

“I gotta say,” Gora would say later, “that it was the greatest beer I never had,” The Dodgers, incidentally, went on to win that game and the Series, facts less memorable than Gora’s exquisite study of insult added to injury.

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