A Day in the Bleachers by Arnold Hano captures the beauty of baseball and the connection of the fan to the game. Hano recounts his experience of Game 1 of the 1954 World Series between the New York Giants and the Cleveland Indians at the Polo Grounds. He captures the excitement of going to a baseball game from the sights, sounds, and smells in the stands to the action on the field. Hano describes with great detail the thoughts and feelings any baseball fan goes through when they walk up to a game to buy a ticket. The excitement and nervousness of “will there be a ticket left in the area I want to sit”, “did I wait too late to get here”, “why are fans from other teams here?”
After getting into the Polo Grounds and finding his seat, Hano’s description of the fans around him rekindles the memories of every reader who has ever attended a baseball game. The conversations about the game and about life outside of baseball, the banter between rival fans, the look of the field and the players all provide the reader with an understanding of how the game looked and felt that day. The play by play allows anyone to visualize the game in its entirety. The drama that occurs throughout the game continues to rise until it reaches its climax or anticlimax, depending on which team you are rooting for.
The climax for Giants fans comes in the eighth inning with Al Rosen on first and Larry Doby on second. Cleveland first baseman Vic Wertz hammers a pitch to deep centerfield which appears headed for the cavernous confines of the Polo Grounds; straightaway centerfield was 483 feet from home plate. Willie Mays turned and chased down the ball before it could land for Wertz’s fourth hit of the day, much to the chagrin of Indian fans. What is often lost in The Catch is the throw back to the infield which prevented the Indians from scoring. Doby was able to tag up and move to third but Rosen had to remain at first. The momentum for Cleveland died in Mays’ glove, as they did not score again and only managed one more hit the entire game (the game went to the tenth inning).
Arnold Hano captures the best of baseball and allows everyone who was not at the game on September 29, 1954 to live the experience for themselves. The description of the game in A Day in the Bleachers is as relevant to baseball fans today as it was in 1955 when it was written. Though he is writing about a game that was played nearly sixty years ago, Hano provides a look back in time to the 1954 World Series, which every baseball fan can appreciate and enjoy.