Yankees World Series hero coached football at Red Bank Catholic

By Bob Behre

 

The Yankees four games to three victory over the Dodgers in the 1947 World Series was a wild ride heard by millions on the radio and viewed, for the first time by an albeit significantly smaller television audience.
 
The amazing and thrilling ‘47 Series capped the Dodgers’ Jackie Robinson’s first major league season. It wasn’t Robinson, however, who stole the show captured incredibly in Kevin Cook’s remarkable book, “Electric October: Seven World Series Games, Six Lives, Five Minutes of Fame That Lasted Forever.”
 
If you love baseball, and we know you do, “Electric October” is a terrific read that cannot be missed and is an excellent cure for the baseball blues that set in during the cold off-season.
 
One of the six protagonists in the book, Yankees second baseman George “Snuffy” Stirnweiss, in turns out, lived in Red Bank, N.J. and even coached football at Red Bank Catholic High School in 1954. Stirnweiss had retired from baseball two years earlier and was pressed into service by the local booster club when the current coach fell ill.
 
Stirnweiss, an All-American halfback at North Carolina, proved to be an exceptional novice at the coaching game. His ‘54 Red Bank Catholic squad won a state title but he turned down an offer to coach the next year. “High school football was too much pressure,” he said. Nice to see times don’t change much. Snuffy didn’t seem to be bothered by the pressure in the ‘47 Series. He had seven hits in the seven games, including a triple and three RBI, more importantly fielding his position in spectacular fashion.
 
The other protagonists in “Electric October” are such baseball mortals as the Dodgers’ Cookie Lavagetto, Al Gionfriddo and manager Burt Shotton, and the Yankees’ Bill Bevens and manager Bucky Harris. Lavagetto ended Bevens’ no-hit bid with a game-winning double with two-outs in the ninth inning of Game 4. Gionfriddo, of course, made a spectacular catch to rob Joe DiMaggio of a game-tying extra-base hit in Game 6. 
 
On Sept. 15, 1958, Stirnweiss, 39, was on his way to New York City for an interview with CBS TV, riding a train from Red Bank. That train never made it to New York, derailing and crashing into Newark Bay.