1958 The Greatest Game Ever Played

January 20

The Shop’s year has started slow just as it did last year.  A few brewery parts are made, some for orders and some for stock. Jack is working on a quotation for Paul Jones Distillery on his own today. His father will stay out of it and see what Jack’s estimate is. Eddie knows he has to trust his son at some point and this will serve as a test to see what Jack has learned.

Quotation for Paul Jones Distillery. January 20, 1958.

January 30

Jack reads in the morning paper that Roy Campanella was in a very serious car accident. He is paralyzed and his career is over. Jack is stunned. It’s a tragedy for this man and his family but also a blow to baseball. He was the best Jack ever saw(Jack maintained that belief through his life) and could have done so much in the game. The Dodgers have just moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles this year and now this shock to the team.  Along with sadness, Jack feels a disappointment for this man who he watched play ball as a boy, when they were both boys about the same age. Jack expected to be watching Roy Campanella play for years, breaking records along the way. He admired his play and the man himself. After discussing it with his father who is equally shocked, Jack must get to work.  He is making a copper water box for the Shop. They are still in need of work and Eddie is convinced this is the time to increase their stock of parts and to make things they need around the place. The water box will be used to cool hot pipes and tubes and to clean them as well. Jack anneals straight lines on copper sheet then folds the sections 90 degrees to make each side of the box. The seams are then soldered closed and the piece is finished. It is very typical coppersmith work and Jack has no problem with it.

The Shop’s job book entry. Job for the Shop itself. January 30, 1958.

February 18

The work is coming in in dribs and drabs but at least the jobs are coming. Majestic Distillery has ordered an aluminum paddle to be fabricated. Aluminum pipe and sheet is hammered, bent and welded together to make the paddle. Majestic wants to use aluminum for sanitary purposes and also for its light weight. Aluminum is a challenge to work with and very difficult to anneal. It takes close attention and awareness of the heat being applied. The aluminum must reach at least 600 degrees and just a bit hotter will melt it. John Benser, the Shop’s machinist, is experienced and he makes the paddle in about a day.

The Shop’s’ job book entry. Majestic Distillery job. February 18, 1958.

March 3

Jack drives his four oldest girls to school on a cool Monday morning.  The girls are sitting quietly in the backseat sleepily watching Lakewood Avenue go by.  Jack’s mind is on the Shop and when he reaches St. Elizabeth’s, he doesn’t stop until he reaches the corner then turns right on to Baltimore Street. He heads west up the hill heading to work. The girls suddenly are more awake and they exchange looks. Nancy holds her finger to her mouth and the girls are as quiet as a mouse. Jack calmly  turns left on to Patterson Park Avenue when suppressed smiles turn to giggles.  Jack hears them and realizes he forgot his girls. He grumbles to himself and quickly goes around the block back to Baltimore Street. The girls are all giggling now as Jack returns down the hill and turns left to take them to school. He wishes his still grinning girls a great day and then makes his way to the Shop.

Baby Nan 4
Nancy Kavanagh. Mid 1950s.

April 3

The Shop receives its first substantial job of the year when A. Smith Bowman Distillery hires them to re-tin a 1900 gallon copper tank. This will take days on site for several men. Bowman is in Sunset Hills, VA so the decision is made to have the men spend two overnights there. Ed Jr. and Mr. Funke are dispatched with two helpers to handle the job.

April 15

A big crowd shows up at Memorial Stadium for the Orioles opening day game against the Washington Senators. At the Shop, Eddie and Jack have the radio on low, but loud enough to hear. The Birds lead throughout this game and win easily. Brooks Robinson triples in Gus Triandos in the second inning, then scores on a sacrifice fly by Ron Hansen. Triandos adds a two-run home run and Robinson goes three for three. Jack updates his brother Ed and the rest of the crew as he is in and out of the Shop most of the day. As Eddie, Jack and Ed Jr. leave the building the game is over and they are in a good mood. Winning that first game is always a good feeling for a fan. For at least a day, you are in first place.

Mary Kavanagh’s First Holy Communion. St. Elizabeth’s Church. May 1958.

May 6

The work is getting better as the weather gets warmer. Another tank repair and re-tinning order is placed.  This one is for Majestic Distillery. A crew of three will spend several days patching and re-soldering seams, then a few days tinning areas that need it. This is the type of job that has been missing this year and Eddie is happy to see another one come along.

June 21

Jack is home on a Saturday afternoon watching the Orioles play the White Sox in Chicago on the Saturday Game of the Week. The Shop’s crew are still just working five days but he and Eddie were in today working on next week’s schedule and sorting through several quotes. Jack has one he couldn’t finish at the office today so he sits with a pad on his lap and a beer in hand watching the game. The girls play and take turns to sit and watch some of the game with him. He loves it and despite that pleasant distraction he finishes his quotes. Jack does better than the Birds who manage only two hits and lose a close one 1-0. The Orioles can’t seem to get it right. They keep hovering about five games under .500. The loss doesn’t bother Jack. It was a good game and to Jack a day watching baseball is always a good day.

BNMJ dresed up
Jack Kavanagh and his six girls. (Left to right)Jackie, Jane, Mary, Nancy, Betty Ann holding baby JoAnn. Jack’s back to camera. 1957.

July 8

The Major League Baseball All-Star game comes to Baltimore. Memorial Stadium welcomes the best of both leagues to square off in their annual exhibition game. The Orioles’ representative is Catcher Gus Triandos. The game is played on a Tuesday afternoon so the Kavanagh’s are working and listening on the radio. Both line-ups are loaded with talent. Besides Triandos, the American League features Nellie Fox and Mickey Mantle. The National League has such stars as Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Stan Musial. It’s a close one but the AL pulls it out winning 4-3.

July 15

Jack and three fellows are out of the Shop on an installation at Gunther’s Brewery.  Gunther’s ordered some insulated skirts for a syrup tank to be made and installed. The fabrication has taken a few days and now the skirts are being soldered into place at the brewery. The skirts are made from copper sheet. It’s a straightforward installation for Jack and his crew. The rest of the boys are working on a brass railing and a few stock parts are being made.

July 25

A company called Swimpool, Inc. in Hagerstown has ordered some hand railings for a pool. The hand rails are being made from galvanized pipe. Each require four bends with a tight radius and they must be bent on the Climax bender. Swimpool has the pipe in stock and sends it in with the request they receive whatever is leftover. The pieces are cut and bent to their specifications and they turn out well. There is some flaking of the galvanize in the bend but a coat of galvanized paint fixes that fast. Swimpool Inc. is happy with the job and Eddie hopes they come back.

The Shop’s job book entry. Swimpool, Inc. job. July 26, 1958.

August 8

Jack is training one of the young workers, Charlie Owens, on the rolling machine. The Sweetheart Paper Co. in Chicago has ordered sixteen pipes to be bent. They are 3 5/8” O.D. with a 1/16” wall so they are very thin. They must be filled with sand before bending. Eddie himself is involved with this job. He cuts some plugs for the pipe from wood. Jack and Charlie are hammering the plugs into one end of each pipe, making sure it is a tight fit. The pipes are stood up and the sand poured in. The sand is then pounded down to eliminate any air pockets. The process is continued until each pipe is stuffed tightly with sand. Then the rolling begins with Owens running the machine and Jack giving guidance. It’s a tough job but Owens gets the hang of it and the pipes look good. Finally, the plugs are pried out with a wedge and the sand knocked out. The job is completed, crated and shipped to Chicago and Eddie takes it as a good sign that they received an order from as far away as Illinois.

September 18

Jack parks on the Jefferson Street side of his house and walks through the back door after a hot day at the Shop. Copper tubes for a fountain were rolled today and Jack did the annealing. A hot day made hotter by a torch. He hugs and kisses Betty and settles into his chair at the dinner table. Betty sets baby JoAnn into a high chair and the other five girls take their seats and begin firing question and comments to their father, asking Jack about his day and telling him about theirs. He looks from one to the other and responds to each in turn, his mood lightening through the meal. As the girls get back to play, Betty raises that mood even more. She is pregnant with baby # 7.

B N M J J J 1
The Kavanagh girls. Jackie, JoAnn, Jane, Mary, Nancy and Betty Ann(Left to right). 1958.

September 28

Jack and his old friend Urb Rosemary are at Memorial Stadium for the Colts first game of the season. Hopes are high for Baltimore’s football team. Last year they were 7-5 and seem to be on the rise. Fans including Jack felt the same about the Orioles but the Birds disappointed this year. Taking a step back, the Orioles lost two more than 1957. Jack and Urb watch a good start to the Colts season as they beat the Lions 28-15. Baltimore fan’s excitement increases as the Colts win their first six games.

September 30

Sweetheart Paper Co. has another set of pipes to be bent in the Shop. These must be annealed and that is a challenge. Steel must stay hot during the bending process. Torches are used to get the tubes cherry red then they are quickly slid into the rolling machine and heat is applied again while they are in the machine. It’s a hot job for all involved and it’s a relief when it’s over but the pieces bend well. They are crated and send to Chicago.

The Shop’s job book entry. Sweetheart Paper Co. job. September 30, 1958.

October 9

The Yankees get some revenge on the Milwaukee Braves who beat them in the last World Series. Milwaukee takes a commanding 3-1 lead in the series but the Yanks win three in a row to take the championship. The Braves strikes out fifty-six times for a dubious World Series record and New York out homers them 10-3 including four by Hank Bauer. Jack watches game three with his father at Eddie’s house. They share a couple of beers and talk as they watch, carefully going over each play. They have watched so many games since Jack was a boy, it’s like old times whenever they do.

October 29

Betty Kavanagh has a miscarriage and loses her baby. She is devastated and Jack does his best to console her and take care of her. He too is hit hard. They are a couple who love children. They have six  girls and they want and love a big family. They were excited for # 7 and Jack does all he can for Betty. She knows they can still have more children. They both mourn the loss of this baby and Betty is such a mother at heart she is sick from grief.

November 3

Late on a Monday afternoon, Betty is still tired and sickly. She lays on the couch in the middle room while Katherine is bringing dinner in from the kitchen.  There is always a pot of hot tea on the dining room table and the youngest JoAnn is toddling around and always curious, she pulls on the table cloth which spills the tea pot.  The tea splashes over her and she is burned. Betty jumps up when she hears the baby and rushes into the room to scoop up JoAnn. Katherine is panicked and both are crying. The other girls start crying as well and at this point Jack comes home from work. He is the calm voice that quickly finds out what happened and he rushes the baby to the hospital. After a salve and bandage are applied, JoAnn is okay but she does carry a scar on her chest from the scalding tea. Betty and Katherine are relieved but still feel terrible about what happened. Jack tells them both that it was an accident and thankfully the baby will be fine. Once back home from the hospital, baby JoAnn resumes toddling about unfazed.

JoAnn Kavanagh. Outside the front of 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1958.

November 13

The Shop’s second half of the year has been better than the first. The brewery and distillery work is steady but at a lower volume than last year. They are fortunate there has been a big uptick in the bending and rolling work. Today they finish two such jobs. Both are small but these jobs keep the doors open in a place like the Joseph Kavanagh Company. One is an aluminum pipe being bent to make an offset for the Steiner Fulton Co. It is a replacement part for one of their machines. The type of machine is not revealed to Eddie and he doesn’t care as long as they need the piece. The other is a job for Springfield State Hospital. They require a flat coil for heating with three 180 degree bends in it. The steel pipe is furnished, bent and threaded by the Shop and the hospital’s maintenance crew pick it up. These are two small jobs but they all count.

The Shop’s job book entry. Springfield State Hospital job. November 13, 1958.
The Shop’s job book entry. Steiner Fulton Co. job. November 13, 1958.

November 29

The Kavanagh’s visit Aunt Anna at the Visitation Convent on Roland Park Avenue on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Aunt Anna is a cloistered nun who teaches at the Convent’s school. She is Eddie’s sister and the family sees her as much as they can. At least once a month, they spend some time with her talking about her teaching, the family and the Shop. She loves seeing the children and sometimes they sing little songs for the sisters. The little ones then run and play on the convent grounds while the adults,  their parents and grandparents catch up with Anna.

December 13

A job for Majestic Distillery is finished today. They ordered some copper tasting cups and this is old time coppersmith work like they have done for decades. Sheet copper is annealed then curved around a small circular block to make the cup shape. A bottom is cut out of sheet as well and soldered to the sides. The side seam is closed too and the cup is cleaned up. This is the sort of work the Kavanagh’s hope to have all year but it hasn’t worked out that way. The pipe and tube bending and rolling jobs have helped to fill that gap.

The Shop’s job book entry. Majestic Distillery job. December 13, 1958.

December 24

The Kavanagh’s, their customers, employees and friends gather at 201 S. Central Avenue on Christmas Eve as they have for almost fifty years. The Shop is filled with holiday spirit as the family and their guests eat, drink and sing to welcome Christmas and salute another year of work completed. They talk of jobs that are finished and those that are set for January. It has been an off year but not bad. The hope is the recession will be a short one and the work will pick up. An old mantra of the Shop’s is to “hope for better times” and they do so. They have faith in this Shop that is over ninety years old and has sustained them through four generations. On Christmas Eve, they are unconcerned and the party is fun and festive.  A great deal of the conversation is about the upcoming NFL Championship game with our Colts facing the New York Giants this Sunday. The Colts won the Western Conference title and the Giants the East. Both teams have identical 9-3 records.  All are excited to watch on television and confident that Baltimore will be victorious.

December 28

Most of Baltimore is home on this last Sunday of the year to watch the big game. The NFL Championship is being decided today between the hometown Colts and the New York Giants. The game is being played in Yankee Stadium so the Giants have a bit of a home field advantage. Jack Kavanagh has his TV tuned to NBC and is set to watch and cheer the whole game. He has a couple of ice cold beers ready to drink and sits down to enjoy. The beginning of the game is sloppy with both teams committing turnovers and failing to take advantage of opportunities to score. Finally, the Giants kick a field goal to get on the board. In the second quarter, Quarterback Johny Unitas and the Colts put some plays together and answer the Giants field goal with a touchdown. By halftime, they have added another and lead 14-3. Folks all through Baltimore are excited and hopeful. In the second half, New York begins its comeback. They score a touchdown in the third quarter and another in the fourth. Suddenly things are quieter in those loud Baltimore homes including 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Jack shakes his head and yells at the television a few time to the puzzled bemusement of his wife and daughters. The Colts are down 17-14 with just a couple minutes left in the game when they receive a punt on their own 14 yard line. Johny Unitas invents something called the “two minute drill” and leads his team down field. A pass to Lenny Moore starts the Colts driving as the clock ticks away. After an incomplete pass, Unitas hits Raymond Berry with three consecutive throws to reach the Giants 13 yard line. Steve Myrha kicks a field goal with seven seconds left and the game is tied. On the ensuing kickoff, the clock ticks down to zero and the gun sounds ending the game.

“A tie?” Jack says to the living room of his Lakewood Avenue home. His daughters look up at him. They have been watching and playing on the floor but are not quite as fixated as he has been.

Jack looks over to his wife Betty then his oldest daughters, Betty Ann and Nancy, “It can’t end in a tie. Can it? They won’t do that? What’s gonna happen?” Betty shrugs but has no answer and the girls have none either.

Suddenly, the refs speak to the teams who are equally confused as to what happens next. Then the NBC announcers are declaring that an overtime will be played. The rules are quickly passed from the NFL officials to the TV announcers to the fans. They will continue to play but the next team to score shall win. A coin toss will determine who gets the ball first.

“A coin toss? That isn’t fair. This is crazy.” Jack says to the room in general but looks over at his daughters.

Daughter Nancy offers, “Maybe the Colts will call heads and will win, Dad.”

“I hope so,” Jack answers as he stares at the television. Just then the coin is tossed and the Giants win. They will get the ball.

“Oh hell.” Jack says under his breath now glaring at the TV. He turns to the right and asks his wife, “Can you get me another beer, hon.”

Betty hops up happy to have a reason to leave the room which is getting tenser and tenser. “Here you go, my darling,” handing Jack a National. Jack is distracted for a second and smiles up at her as he takes the beer. A moment later, his attention is back on the football game.

The Giants receive the Colts kick at the beginning of overtime but are unable to do much on offense. After three plays, they are forced to punt and the Kavanagh girls hear a noticeable sigh of relief from their father. Once again, Johny Unitas begins leading his team toward the Giants end zone. A combination of Alan Ameche’s runs and Unitas passing to Berry and the Colts get closer and closer.

“Go Go Go!” Jack shouts as Ameche breaks loose from the line and charges 22 yards down field to be tackled at the Giants twenty yard line. The room is strangely silent but for Jack’s occasional cheers, and the girls are watching him more then the game now.

Unitas drops back to pass and hits Raymond Berry on the eight yard line and Jack screams, claps his hands and rubs them together very quickly. This is one of Jack’s habits when something good happens or something funny is said, he claps and rubs his hands together. He leans forward in his chair and the television goes black.

“What? What? What is this? NOOOOOOOOOOOO!” Jack jumps to his feet and grabs his shirt with both hands below the collar and rips his shirt open. A shower of buttons fly through the air as little girls scatter and Betty charges in from the kitchen.

“Jack? What is it? What’s going on?” Betty quickly asks.

“The damn tv. It, it stopped.” He charges the television like a man possessed and slaps the side of it. “Damn it! What is this? The stupid thing,” he slaps it again.

“Don’t talk like that, Jack. Not with the girls here. What’s the big deal? Did they win?” Betty says as she watches her husband’s uncharacteristic panicked behavior.

“I don’t know if they won, hon.” Jack replies with angst in his voice. “What’s going on?!!”

Suddenly the transmission comes back on and the Colts are setting up on the eight yard line. Jack is still puzzled but he sits down, “Oh, okay okay. It’s on. It’s fine, Betty.” He’s happy he didn’t miss anything but the game isn’t over.

Two plays later, Unitas hands the ball off to Alan Ameche and he charges through the Giants line for a touchdown. The game is finished and the Baltimore Colts are the National Football League Champions. Jack leaps up from his chair and begins hugging his confused but happy daughters. He kisses his wife and scampers about the room. Finally, he grabs his beer and toasts the TV then takes a long swallow.

Betty rolls her eyes and grins at her husband. “I guess we won.”



Dwight D. Eisenhower is the President of the United States. NASA and the FAA are created. Elvis is drafted into the army. At 14, Bobby Fischer wins the US Chess Championship. The first American satellite is launched. The John Birch Society is founded. The micro chip is invented. The films “Vertigo” and “South Pacific” are released. Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince, Rickey Henderson and  Neil deGrasse Tyson are born.

There remain 48 states in the Union but Alaska has been granted statehood beginning in January.

“The Greatest Game Ever Played” Alan Ameche scores the winning touchdown. NFL Championship Game. December 28, 1958.

To read prior posts, click on the Table of Contents link below:

Table of Contents

One thought on “1958 The Greatest Game Ever Played

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s