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  • Writer's picture John Bacchia

Augie Donatelli, World Series Sleuth

Updated: Oct 25, 2022

It was during Game 4 of the 1957 World Series between the Milwaukee Braves and the New York Yankees at County Stadium when both clubs mounted dramatic comebacks. With the Yanks leading the Series two games to one, they stormed from behind in the top of the ninth to tie the score at four after Elston Howard belted a clutch homer. Legendary Braves hurler Warren Spahn pitched into the 10th, remaining in the game even after succumbing to the Yankees in the ninth, and gave up another run in the top of the 10th. In the bottom of the 10th, with the Braves trailing 5 - 4, pinch hitter Nippy Jones batted for Spahn. Braves hurler Tommy Byrne delivered a screwball to Jones that came low and inside at his feet and skipped past catcher Yogi Berra. Home plate umpire Donatelli called the pitch a ball. As the ball rolled towards the backstop, Jones was complaining that he had been hit by the pitch. Augie demanded to see the baseball and discovered a black mark on it. He concluded that the mark was shoeshine, and that it must have come from Nippy's shoe and awarded Jones first base. Subsequently, Milwaukee charged back to win the game after Eddie Matthews delivered a game-winning blast. It was the hit-by-pitch and big decision reversal from Donatelli that seemingly changed the momentum of the game. On a sidebar note, the ballboy who retrieved the ball that had hit Nippy Jones and who was also responsible for shining his shoes prior to the game later went on to work for the FBI. Justice had been served that October 6th day in 1957.

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