A boy's return to the World Series 91 years later

ByKeith Olbermann, Special to ESPN.com ESPN logo
Wednesday, October 25, 2017

On Saturday, Oct. 2, 1926, Babe Ruth slid into second base in the third inning of the first game of the World Series -- and ripped the seat of his pants.

In the Yankee Stadium bleachers, an 11-year-old boy attending his first major league game, burst into laughter. "We roared! The little trainer, Doc Woods, raced out with a needle and thread, and the Babe just stood there grinning while they stitched up his trousers right on the field!"

The same boy -- a little older -- will be in the left-field stands Wednesday night as the Los Angeles Dodgers host the Houston Astros in the second game of this World Series. He is the actor Norman Lloyd.

In three weeks he'll celebrate his 103rd birthday, and his friends decided to get him tickets as an early present. When Rich Hill throws the game's first pitch, Lloyd presumably will set the longest fan seniority streak in World Series history (unless you know of anybody who attended games in, say, both 1903 and 1995).

He may also hold a similar record for Dodgers fans. "I went to my first Dodger game at Ebbets Field in 1927," Lloyd reminisced back in 2015. "They were awful, but I loved them. I have ever since. After all, they followed me to Los Angeles after I moved here," he said with a laugh during a 2015 interview.

Lloyd has played everything from the title character who falls from the torch of the Statue of Liberty in Alfred Hitchcock's 1942 film "Saboteur," to Dr. Auschlander in the 1980s TV series "St. Elsewhere," to a cameo part in Amy Schumer's movie "Trainwreck" two years ago. He was in Orson Welles' famous Mercury Theatre presentation of Julius Caesar a scant 80 years back, was one of the villains in "Dead Poets Society," and worked with Charlie Chaplin, whom he played tennis against weekly: "Easy to beat. Charlie was so vain he would never wear his glasses."

In that same 2015 interview, Lloyd shared a clear memory of the 1926 opener: "Yankees, 2-to-1. Gehrig drove in both the runs, the second one, Ruth scored." He then recites the starting lineups for both teams, including nine future Hall of Famers. The game was played so long ago the correct pronunciation of the Cardinals' leadoff hitter, center fielder Taylor Douthit, was believed by the SABR crowd to have been lost in the cracks of history. "Doothit," he says matter-of-factly. "How else would you say it?"

Until last night, it had been 29 years since anybody had seen a World Series game at Dodger Stadium, but for Lloyd it has been a little longer. "While they've been playing I've usually been working. The last Series game I saw, I managed to take my son the day the Orioles beat Koufax. That was 1966, wasn't it?"

Alert and mobile, he is undaunted by a return to the World Series kaleidoscope of noise and drama that he first witnessed at what was also Lou Gehrig's first game. But he does worry.

"Same thing I worry about every year in October," he said recently. "Are we certain we're not overusing Kershaw?"