IN 1950, A COUPLE OF FRIENDS and I concluded that the world was about to end.
After all, the stupid war in Korea was raging with the Chinese army about to roar into South Korea by way of the Chosin Reservoir.
The Soviet Union, with the mad Stalin still in charge, was shooting off A-bombs.
There seemed little doubt that we young 'uns would soon be off to war.
Not that I was that young. I turned 21 in 1950 and had already served a hitch in the peacetime Air Force (as a reporter on a base weekly newspaper in Cheyenne, Wyo.). I was working for a civilian weekly, the long-defunct Media News, drinking a lot of beer and paying only peripheral attention to the sports world where the Phillies and Eagles were making noise.
Since the world was about to blow itself up, I and two friends, who had already served Army hitches, decided to take off for California for one last fling. We left on my birthday, Sept. 23, 1950. I kissed my girlfriend goodbye, and a few months later, she sensibly married somebody else.
On Oct. 1, my friends and I were parked at Long Beach, Calif., watching the Pacific roll in and listening on the car radio to the final game of the season in which the Phillies clinched the National League pennant by beating the Dodgers in extra innings at Ebbets Field.
Robin Roberts pitched against Don Newcombe and Dick Sisler hit the game-winning homer in the 10th inning. We probably were the only people on the beach who gave a damn.
Of course, those were the exciting Whiz Kids, a bunch of youngsters in their 20s (Rich Ashburn and Robin Roberts were 23). Unfortunately, they were swept by the Yankees in the World Series, but you know that story.
Well, the world didn't blow up. I worked a few factory jobs in California (newspapers weren't hiring) then returned to the Media News.
Of course, the Eagles were tearing up the National Football League in 1950 with the likes of future Hall-of-Famers Chuck Bednarik, Pete Pihos, Steve Van Buren and Alex Wojciechowicz thrilling the crowds at Shibe Park.
And the Athletics were still in business.
I was never a sports reporter, but when I was with the old Evening Bulletin, I used to write color at sporting events, such as the heavyweight championship fight between Joe Frazier and Oscar Bonavena in 1968, when I got to shake the hands of Muhammad Ali, Rocky Marciano, Two- Ton Tony Galento and others.
Then there was 1964. I was sent to the airport to meet the Phillies returning from the Great Collapse. They had blown a 6 1/2-game lead with 12 games left in the season by losing 10 in a row. But a large, forgiving crowd of fans welcomed them back home.
As the team members were walking along a corridor, a boy of about 12 shouted, "Yeah, Mauch, you blew it!" That, of course, was the lead on my story.
Then on Oct. 1, 1970, I was doing color for the final game at Connie Mack Stadium. The much-abused Gene Mauch had brought his Montreal Expos to town. The Phillies beat the Expos, 2-1, in 10 innings of a meaningless game.
But the real story was how the fans tore the old stadium apart to get souvenirs. The din sounded like a boiler factory, although I had never heard a boiler factory in full cry. A post-game ceremony, which was to include a helicopter taking home plate to the team's new home at Veterans Stadium, was canceled because of the uproar. It made a good story.