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April 11, 2013

Talking about ‘The Game’

GREENVILLE — It had rained overnight and it was unseasonably cold, with winds gusting out of the north.

But it was a great day for baseball 64 years ago, as the former Greenville Majors defeated the New York Yankees.

Wednesday was a great day for memories, as a crowd gathered downtown to commemorate the anniversary of what is considered the greatest baseball game in local history.

“This is probably the exact same weather they encountered when they got defeated by the Greenville Majors,” said Greg Sims, a big fan of the Majors and of the game.

Wednesday’s event was originally planned for in front of the entrance to the former Majors Stadium, which still stands on Houston Street, but due to lingering storms was moved to under the cover of the Farmers Market a few blocks away.

Sims said he planned the ceremony as a way to take pride in a significant piece of local history and wants it to become an annual occurrence.

“I hope it becomes a tradition,” Sims said.

Activities began at 3 p.m. Wednesday, the exact hour of the start of the April 10, 1949 exhibition contest at Majors Stadium, which the Majors won 4-3.

Following the National Anthem, Sims read the “line up” cards for the Majors and the Yankees — which included the names of Manager Casey Stengel and Joe DiMagggio in center field.

Sims also read from a “New York Times” article of the game, which noted there were 2,951 fans at the game and that the Majors’ Jackie Sullvan had six hits during the contest.

Sims also played a recording of the start of the 1949 American League Championship game between the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, in which the legendary Mel Allen said the Yankees had rebounded from a less than impressive start that April.

“For us to have had a part in making the Yankees fans sweat, I love that,” Sims said.

There was the ceremonial throwing out of the first pitch, a group singing of ‘Take Me Out To The Ballgame’ and lots of baseball stories.

Dr. John Mark Dempsey, who helped organize the effort which resulted in the placement of a historical marker at Majors Stadium, also took part in the festivities and noted he is currently compiling a book on small town baseball in Texas.

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