Gaelic football, amputee baseball, & Army Olympics: New York Times headlines from 1947

This week’s headlines from sports history come from The New York Times, as published the week of September 9-15, 1947.

Location: New York City

The New York Times is a major American newspaper that began publication 1851. It is still published today and is one the largest US newspapers by size of circulation.

In 1947, Harry S. Truman was the US president and the Christmas classic Miracle on 34th Street premiered on silver screens. Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier in April, and the New York Yankees swept the Brooklyn Dodgers to win the World Series. In college football, Notre Dame would repeat as the AP Poll’s national champions.

Here is a sampling of sports headlines The Times published this week in 1947:

“Giant Batsmen Stage 10-Run Assault in Last Two Innings to Beat Pirates”

Publication Date: Tuesday, September 9
This image of Gearhart scoring the final run ran next to the article.

This article covered the New York Giants’ late rally against the host Pittsburgh Pirates. In the game, Pirates 39-year-old pitcher Fritz Ostermueller took a no-hitter into the fifth inning and Pittsburgh built an 8-0 lead after seven innings. However, the Giants torched Ostermueller for seven runs in the eighth and then added three more in the ninth off a Lloyd Gearhart homer to claim a 10-8 win.

The result meant little in the National League standings, except that Pittsburgh took sole possession of the league’s cellar. By the season’s end, New York would finish fourth in the NL, 13 games back of Brooklyn, and Pittsburgh wound up sharing the bottom of the league with Philadelphia.


Publication Date: Saturday, September 13

This was a short recap of a charity baseball game between leg amputees and arm amputees. Those with arm amputations won the seven inning affair 21-12.

All proceeds of the game benefited building a metropolitan clubhouse for the National Amputation Chapter No. 76 of the Disabled American Veterans. An August 10 report in the New York Times noted that the planned clubhouse would include a recreation center, a swimming pool, and an orthopedic laboratory.

According to the recap—which dubbed the leg amputees “Broken Wings” and the arm amputees “Flat Tires”—it was the ninth win for the leg amputees in 15 games against the arm amputees.

Fiorello Marino of New Rochelle was highlighted for his efforts on the mound—he pitched all seven innings and struck out 10 while giving up 15 hits. Based on a 1949 column about World War II amputees I dug up on, Marino would’ve been around 21 at the time of the game. He lost his left arm while serving with the Eighth Armored Division under General Bernard Montgomery during a battle close to the Ruhr river in Germany. Marino passed away in 1997.

The amputee matchup continued annually to at least 1950, as a Times report in the May 28th edition of that year is the final mention I can find covering the charity game. In June 1951, the Boston Red Sox and New York Giants would play an interleague exhibition game to raise funds for New York’s National Amputation Chapter instead. The Red Sox won that game 5-3.

“35,000 See Caven Defeat Kerry for All-Ireland Gaelic Football Laurels”

Publication Date: Monday, September 15
This image of the final ran alongside the article.

In 1947, the Polo Grounds played host to the All-Ireland Gaelic football championship final, the capstone of Ireland’s premier knockout tournament of Gaelic football. For the match, underdog Caven defeated Kerry 2 goals and 11 points to 2 goals and 7 points behind eight points from Paddy Donohue. The title was the third All-Ireland championship for Cavan.

This was the first and only time the Irish championship was played outside Ireland. The international staging of the final attempted to cater to New York’s large Irish-American population as well as honor the 1847 famine that caused many Irish people to emigrate to America. Additionally, New York’s mayor at the time, William O’Dwyer, was Irish-born, likely helping catalyze the decision to play the final at the Polo Grounds.

Outside the oddity of Gaelic football, the Polo Grounds was normally the home of both the baseball and football Giants in 1947. It later housed the Mets and Jets in the 1960s before its demolition in 1964.

Interestingly, one American-born player participated in the Gaelic football contest: Cavan’s Mick Higgins, who scored the game’s final point.


Publication Date: Monday, September 15

Held over two days at the Olympic Stadium in Allied-occupied Berlin, the Army “Olympics”, as the Associated Press’ wire report nicknamed the event, was actually just a track meet featuring military athletes from eight Allied countries: Belgium, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United States. Two other nations, Czechoslovakia and Russia, were invited, but neglected to send athletes. In the 1947 edition, the French team eclipsed the US with 38 points to the Americans’ 34. Points were awarded on a 5-3-1 basis for the top three finishers in each event.

Outside of the top two nations, Denmark surprised the competition and took third with 29 points. Great Britain was fourth with 26 and the Netherlands rounded out the top five with 16.

The article makes note of Dutchman Jan Kleyn, whose victories in the 100- and 200-meters set meet records and earned him “outstanding athlete of the day” honors. The Dutch Royal Airforce officer later competed in the 100 at the 1948 London Olympics, but missed out on the final due to injury. The United States won three events in Berlin: Bill Chynaweth (javelin), Silkirtis Nichols (high jump), and George C. Berger (400-meters).

Officially known now as the World Military Track and Field Championships and run by the International Military Sports Council, the 1947 event was the second edition. The championships were organized annually until 1971 and have been held irregularly since.

Headlines for this article were sourced from The New York Times’ own TimesMachine.