Sport: Hunch

An alarmed gurgle came from 32,000 throats at Brooklyn's Ebbets Field. Nothing quite like it had been heard in a big-league ballpark since Connie Mack picked gimpy-armed Howard Ehmke to pitch (and win) the first game of the 1929 World Series. The announcer said that Ralph Branca, winner of just one game all season, would be the Dodger pitcher in the final do-or-die series with the St. Louis Cardinals.

It was a characteristic Leo Durocher play: a combination of hunch and maneuver. The Dodger manager figured that by starting right-hander Branca he...

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