Brooklyn Dodgers fans and players celebrate 1955's World Series victory over the New York Yankees. (Associated Press)
By HOUSTON MITCHELL
Los Angeles DodgersJackie RobinsonCy Young AwardSteve Garvey
The Dodgers have had many great teams in their long history, but which was the best? On the heels of Times readers' picking the all-time best L.A. Dodgers at each position, we now ask you decide the best overall team, Brooklyn or Los Angeles, in Dodgers history.
The best 16 Dodgers teams of all time have been chosen and will match up in an NCAA-tournament-style bracket, with your votes deciding the winner. The six Dodgers World Series champions get the top six seeds, with 10 other Dodgers teams filling out the remainder of the field. Starting today, we move to the second round.
Today's second-round matchup pits the top-seeded 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers against the eighth-seeded 1974 L.A. Dodgers. Take a look at both teams below, then vote
No. 1: 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers (98-55, won World Series, won first-round matchup over the 1985 Dodgers with 85% of the vote): The legendary Boys of Summer were led by Roy Campanella (.318, 32 HRs, 107 RBIs), Gil Hodges (.289, 27, 102), Pee Wee Reese (.282, 10, 61), Duke Snider (.309, 42, 136), Jackie Robinson (.256, 8, 36) and Don Newcombe (20-5, 3.20 ERA) and were the only Brooklyn team to win a World Series.
No. 8: 1974 L.A. Dodgers (102-60, lost in World Series, won first-round matchup over 1949 Dodgers with 54% of the vote): Steve Garvey (.312, 21, 111) was league MVP though you could argue that teammate Jimmy Wynn (.271, 32, 108) deserved it. On the mound, Mike Marshall (15-12, 21 saves) pitched in an astounding 106 games and won the Cy Young Award and Andy Messersmith was a 20-game winner.
While the debate on the choice of Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds as the venue for the Kerry/Mayo replay raged, a letter-writer to a daily paper asked why, in the event of the other semi-final ending in a draw, the two replays couldn’t be played together on the same day.
He went on to suggest it had never happened before, the two semis finishing level. Well, it did, in 1955, and, ironically, the letter-writer’s county, Mayo, was one of the teams involved. And, yes, the two replays took place on the same day.
Though almost six decades years have passed since then, I can remember the semi-final in which Mayo drew. They played Dublin, and although still to reach my teens, I was there, taken along with a sibling by my father.
Eamon Mongey stood out for Mayo more than any of his colleagues, perhaps because he was bald. And as my father’s next choice after Louth would have been the Dubs, we’d have been told to watch out for the likes of Heffernan, and Freaney, and ‘Snitchie’ Ferguson.
I can’t remember much about the game, but what’s still vivid in my memory are the conditions in which it was played. It poured out of the heavens from start to finish, and being among the many thousands on the Canal End, we couldn’t avoid getting soaked to the skin. I’m reminded of how we felt by the ice bucket challenges currently taking place. But at least the volunteers can get a quick drying off and a change of clothes; we had still a train journey to face when the game was over.
I researched the semi-finals and found that the game we were at ended Dublin 0-7, Mayo 1-4, the scoreline reflective, perhaps, of the conditions. The other game ended with Kerry on 2-10 and Cavan on 1-13.
A crowd of a little over 71,000 turned up for the replay fixture, and this time Kerry had it all their own way, winning by 4-7 to 0-5. But the other game was another tight affair, Dublin making it by just a point, 1-8 to 1-7. Jimmy Curran was outstanding for Mayo, accounting for all of his side’s scores.
The crowd for the All-Ireland final was a record at the time, 87,102, and they saw Kerry win by 0-12 to 1-6, the goal falling to Ollie Freaney, who somehow managed to find a way past through a crowded Kerry goal-line with a 14-yard free coming towards the end.
BY MICHAEL PLATT, CALGARY SUN
The city was given but 30 minutes warning: a quartet of Soviet strategic heavy bombers, four-engines apiece, had been sighted on a direct flight course for Calgary, the hostile Myasishchev M-4’s presumably laden with hydrogen bombs.
Air-raid sirens across the city sounded, and the evacuation of Calgary was underway, each second of the clock ticking towards a series of mid-air explosions expected to decimate the entire city, leaving only craters, charred ruins and a lingering cloud of radioactive death.
It was time to go — and over the next half-hour, thousands of cars poured out of Calgary towards designated safe towns, as entire families left what would soon be a nuclear hell behind.
Across north Calgary sirens wailed, and smoke bombs were detonated to give the horizon a suitably war-like appearance, while the Civil Defense Authority took shelter in their specially built bunker, near today’s Shaganappi Golf Course.
And so the great test evacuation of Sept. 28, 1955 started — and by the time it was over, politicians and strategists alike were gushing over how swell the whole the whole exercise had gone, and Calgary would certainly survive the wrath of the Reds, when the day finally came.
Of course, it was pure propaganda, and ultimately, Operation Lifesaver was as useful against nuclear holocaust as telling school kids to duck under their desks.
Given the horrifying outcome of a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union, the likely goal was to soothe collective nerves as Cold War tension increased and the likelihood of doomsday crept ever closer.
Telling folks they’d easily survive an all out nuclear war was a fib no one would be around to answer for — and so Operation Lifesaver was planned by Canada as one of the first attempts by a Western government to evacuate a major metro population.
Scholars have speculated as to why Calgary was chosen for the largest civil defence evacuation in Canadian history — and though it’s true the city’s role as a hub for oil-and-gas production made it a Soviet target, it’s believed Calgary’s lack of natural obstacles like ocean meant people could easily escape into the open country.
With success pretty much ensured and communities around the city ready to feed and shelter the pretend atomic evacuees, organizers made a big deal of telling everyone all about the “surprise” Soviet attack on Sept. 1, and the planned evacuation of 40,000 citizens from northeast Calgary.
People booked time off work, and most looked forward to the day as an officially sanctioned picnic in the country.
Never before in the history of war has a sneak assault been so well advertised — but if the Soviet war machine wasn’t really creeping up on the hapless citizens of Calgary, the weather sure did.
Instead of nuclear winter, Calgary ended up with the real thing on Sept. 21, when one of the worst blizzards in memory paralyzed the city.
Operation Lifesaver was postponed — and when it did take place a week later, a deflated sense of occasion meant only 10,000 people officially took part (some said it was half that), with reports of empty shelters and stacks of uneaten sandwiches in refugee centres like Carstairs and Drumheller.
No matter. The great dash to safety was declared a resounding success, and the next day’s papers contained glowing reports about how Calgarians would quickly and easily escape their soon-to-be-glowing city, when the Pinkos did their worst.
“The scheme was a great success. I would recommend it to anyone,” one pleased official told reporters.
It all seems incredibly naive now — and yet with the Cold War a reality again as tension with Putin’s Russia grows, and emergency warning sirens currently being reinstalled at 40 firehalls (for floods and other disasters), it all hits close to home too.
Hopefully, Calgary never again has to live under the constant threat of being wiped off the map by a bomb, but it’s nice to know the city’s new sirens, worth $1.9 million, will be able to sound the alarm, just in case anyone wants to plan an Operation Lifesaver II.
After all, everyone appreciates a drive in the country.
This amazing excerpt from the book, Let It Shine: The 6000-Year Story of Solar Energy, provides fascinating context to energy choices the US made in the 1950s. It was a pivotal moment for the advent of solar energy, but the US supported nuclear instead.
What's most interesting is all-out backing the US government gave the nuclear energy industry to get it off the ground. Similar histories are likely written about government support for oil and gas when they first emerged. Renewable energy industries have had no such support - infinitesimal by comparison. It's a testament to pioneers in the solar and wind industries and a handful of supportive governments that they are nearing grid parity today.
Prelude to the Embargo
For almost three decades after the end of WWII, the US had few problems with its energy supply. Its industry, commerce, and homes all had ready access to oil and gas from both domestic and foreign sources. Most of the oil was close to the surface, easy to tap, and economical to extract. Foreign governments sold their oil to American companies at extremely low prices, and US government subsidies also helped to keep prices low and profits high. Natural gas prices were also low and enjoyed the same tax advantages as oil.
Corporate spokespeople assured the public that this rosy situation would continue almost indefinitely. With fuel apparently so abundant and cheap, electric companies expanded to meet demand. Liberal government policies made it easy to procure capital to build larger and more efficient power plants. Utilities encouraged greater consumption because the costs of building new plants and installing electric lines could be recovered more easily if customers used more energy.
"Once you had the lines in, you hoped people would use as much electricity as possible," a utility executive remarked. "You wanted to get as much return on your investment as you could." Gas companies took a similar approach - "if you sell more you make more."
They promoted consumption through advertising campaigns and preferential rate structures. It worked as families rushed to buy electric and gas-powered appliances. The growing affluence and postwar baby boom pushed electricity generation up over 500% between 1945-1968, and gas production almost tripled from 6-16 trillion cubic feet during those years. US fuel consumption more than doubled.
The frenetic pace at which America was gobbling up its energy resources alarmed only a few farsighted individuals. Eric Hodgins, editor of Fortune, called the careless burning of coal, oil and gas a terrible state of affairs, enough to "horrify even the most complaisant in the world of finance."
Writing in 1953, he warned that "we live on a capital dissipation basis. We can keep this up for another 25 years before we begin to find ourselves in deepening trouble." But such warnings were treated with derision or ignored because too much money was being made on energy sales.
A few scientists and engineers took the same dim view and sought an alternative to a fuel crisis they saw as inevitable. In 1955, they founded the Association for Applied Solar Energy and held a World Symposium in Phoenix, Arizona. Delegates from around the world attended, presenting research and exhibiting solar devices.
Israel displayed its commercial solar water heaters, and representatives from Australia and Japan discussed their nations' increasing use of the sun. To many, the symposium represented the dawn of a new solar age, but the careless confidence of energy-rich America squelched that hope here.
Solar energy received virtually no support in the ensuing years, and by 1963 the association found itself bankrupt.
The governments of Israel, Australia and Japan deliberately aided the solar industry, but the US Congress and White House sat on the sidelines. True, as early as 1952 the President's Materials Commission, appointed by Harry Truman, came out with a report, Resources for Freedom, predicting that America and its allies would be short on fossil fuels by 1975. It urged that solar energy be developed as a replacement.
"Efforts made to date to harness solar energy are infinitesimal," the commission chided, despite the fact that the "US could make an immense contribution to the welfare of the free world" by exploiting this inexhaustible supply. They predicted that, given the will to go solar, there could be 13 million solar-heated homes by the mid-1970s.
Atoms For Peace
The Commission advocated for a 50-50 split for nuclear and solar contributions to America's energy future, but the US government lavished billions on atomic power research while spending a pittance on solar. International cold war politics more than technological advantages accounted for the difference.
The Soviet's growing military might and possibility of nuclear warfare dominated. Rather than scare Americans, President Eisenhower decided to give nuclear weapons a happy face by introducing the peaceful atom.
At the United Nations in 1953, Eisenhower assured the world body of US determination to help solve the fearful atomic dilemma - "to find the way the miraculous inventiveness of man shall not be dedicated to his death, but consecrated to life." When he proposed the peaceful use of the atom "to apply atomic energy to the needs of agriculture and medicine ... and to provide abundant electrical energy in power-starved areas of the world" - everyone sprang up and applauded and kept on cheering.
Someone called Eisenhower's plan "Atoms for Peace" and the phrase stuck. Selling the peaceful atom as the world's future energy source suddenly became America's number one priority.
Congress passed the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, making available at no cost to the industry "the knowledge acquired by 14 years and $10 billion worth of government research." In this act, the government pledged to undertake for the private sector "a program of conducting, assisting, and fostering research and development to encourage maximum scientific and industrial progress."
In other words, the government paid all the expenses and took all the risks for the nascent nuclear energy industry. There was no parallel "Solar Energy Act.
People from every national and political inclination heralded the arrival of the atomic age, the "third great epoch in human history." A few people though had second thoughts.
Nobel prize-winning chemist Dr. Glenn Seaborg, who later headed the Atomic Energy Commission, argued that the difficulty of finding sites for disposal of dangerous radioactive waste would severely hamper development. Worse, experts agreed that the owners of atomic power plants could quickly convert their fissionable material to build bombs. Even members of the Eisenhower administration admitted having "some unhappy second thoughts - that 'atoms for peace' could turn into 'atom bombs for all.' The specter of nations in the underdeveloped world arming themselves atomically was "terrifying."
What About Solar?
Dr. James Conant, the American scientist who first oversaw the making of America's first nuclear weapons, agreed that nuclear power was too dangerous and expensive. He urged the nation to instead create a program like the Manhattan Project for the development of solar energy.
The NY Times also suggested the government should "transfer some of its interest in nuclear to solar." But the attitude of Washington and the private sector mirrored that of a nation hypnotized by seemingly limitless supplies of cheap fossil fuel and by the almost magical aura surrounding nuclear energy.
Life Magazine put it aptly in an article, "The Sun: Prophets Study Rays for Far-Off Needs." A few farsighted scientists are dreaming of ways to save the US when coal, oil, gas and uranium run out. That may be 200-1000 years away, the article said.
George Russler, chief staff engineer at the Minneapolis-Honeywell Research Center, suggested that solar energy could better tackle the growing need to replace oil by providing heat for houses and office buildings. He pointed out that the low-temperature heat required "ideally matches the low-grade heat from the simplest and most efficient solar energy collectors."
This was the perfect way to start putting solar to widespread use and ameliorating the ominous circumstance that the number of new oil discoveries in the US had fallen every year after 1953, while reliance on imported oil kept growing. In fact, in 1967, for the first time in the nation's history, crude oil reserves declined.
And renowned oil engineer Marion King Hubbert predicted in 1956 that American petroleum production would peak between the late 1960s and early 1970s. Most in the oil industry ridiculed his work, but in 1970 the laughing ceased. His prediction had come to pass.
John Perlin, author of Let It Shine: The 6000-Year Story of Solar Energy (2013) is an analyst in the Department of Physics and Director for implementation of solar and energy efficiency at University of California/ Santa Barbara. He writes and lectures widely on the history of energy, solar in particular. Check out his website: http://john-perlin.com/