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"Just give me one run." - Johnny’s statement before starting Game 7 of the 1955 World Series, which he won 2-0.
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John Joseph Podres arrived safe at home just in time for Major League Baseball post—season play, September 30, 1932. He was the first of four boys and a girl born to Joseph and Anna Podres of Witherbee, New York, a valley village between Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains. His father mined iron in nearby Mineville, the source of the magnets used 100 years earlier in the invention of the electric motor by a Vermont blacksmith, Thomas Davenport. Joe Podres also threw baseballs.
“I grew up like any other kid in a small town in the North Country," Johnny recalls. “I hoed the potatoes and chopped the kindling wood to start the fire in the coal stove.” He also put a radio under his pillow on spring and summer nights when Dodgers announcers Red Barber and Connie Desmond described the feats of his heroes, who included Gil Hodges, Jackie Robinson, Carl Furillo, and Pee Wee Reese.
“Their voices were so familiar it was like they were members of the family.
“I’ll never forget when, late at night, Barber would say ‘F.O.B.,' the bases are full of Brooks. That might happen just when my father would tell me to shut the radio off because I had to go to school the next day.
“As a kid in school, I wanted to be a Dodger. I was a Dodgers fan. I loved the Dodgers. In those days every little town had a semi—pro team that played on Sundays. People would sit in their cars and blow their horns for a big hit, a strikeout, or a good play. They had tailgate parties long before they became fashionable at NFL football games.
My dad was the pitcher, and I went to all the games from about the time I was old enough to walk. I always wanted to be like my father. I wanted to be a pitcher.
“Sometimes somebody would hit a ball into the woods and I would find it and hide it, and then we kids would choose up sides and play in a cow pasture and use cow patties for bases. You wouldn’t want to slide into some of them. Some balls that were hit you wouldn't want to catch on a bounce.”
In a small town sometimes it's difficult to round up enough youngsters to play a game, so then Johnny would throw by himself, sometimes a ball, and sometimes rocks. “A lot of us kids were good at throwing rocks—we had a lot of rock fights, too."
The North Country produces comparatively few ballplayers, but when a good one emerges, he is likely to be a pitcher. The climate makes you handier with a snowball than a baseball bat.
“I guess my father had me throwing a baseball starting when I was about six. He was a fine pitcher, and many people in the area thought his stuff was good enough for the majors if he hadn’t been mining ore to keep our family in the necessities of life. He had a great ‘drop,’ which is what everybody used to call an over—the—top curveball—one that ‘falls off the table.’ Once while working at the mine, he fell 40 feet off a bluff, did a somersault in the air, and landed on his feet and broke both legs. But he still pitched after that."
Excerpt from Chapter Two -- Just Like His Father, "Johnny Podres: Brooklyn's Yankee Killer" by Bob, John and Robert S. Bennett