Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Tag: Jackie Robinson (Page 1 of 3)

Jackie Robinson, 100

By Jon Weisman

Below, to celebrate the 100th birthday of Jackie Robinson, please enjoy this reprint of Chapter 1 of 100 Things Dodgers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die:

Jackie
From beginning to end, we root for greatness.

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The reign in pain: Justin Turner making HBP history


One other thread in the Andre Ethier legacy is that he is the all-time Los Angeles Dodger leader in times being hit by a pitch, with 58. But at the rate Justin Turner has been going, Ethier’s reign might not last the year.

Last year, the Dodger third baseman set a single-season franchise record with 19 HBPs, breaking Alex Cora’s previous and literal mark of 18. (Cora also held the Los Angeles career mark before Ethier.) That gave Turner 46 plunkings as a Dodger, putting him within 12 of Ethier — and Turner has averaged 14 HBPs over the past three seasons.

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In case you missed it: Rob Segedin’s big night

By Jon Weisman

It’s been a whirlwind in Dodger land lately, and for no one more than Rob Segedin, who not only hit his first two homers in the Majors on consecutive days, but also became a father late Monday.

Segedin and Andrew Toles became the first teammates in Major League history to hit their first two MLB homers in the same two consecutive games, according to Elias Sports. Here are their combined stats as Dodgers:

Segedin Toles

Doug Padilla has more on the Segedin saga at ESPN.com.

Let’s catch up some other things …

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Hitting history for Dodger All-Stars

Andre Ethier is introduced before the 2011 All-Star Game. ()Barry Gossage/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Andre Ethier before the 2011 All-Star Game. (Barry Gossage/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

By Jon Weisman

No Dodger has had a hit in an All-Star Game in five years, and so it’s up to Corey Seager to change that tonight — unless you’re looking for Kenley Jansen to grab a bat and come through.

Yasiel Puig, Dee Gordon, Joc Pederson, Yasmani Grandal and Adrian Gonzalez have combined to go 0 for 8 since Ethier’s pinch-hit, RBI single in fifth inning of the July 12, 2011 All-Star Game. Gordon did come around to score as a pinch-runner in the 2014 contest.

The greatest single All-Star batting performances by a Dodger belong to Duke Snider (two singles, a double and a walk in 1954) and Mike Piazza (double and home run in 1996).

Here are some firsts and lasts among all Dodger All-Star batters since 1933, when Tony Cuccinello became the franchise’s first All-Star hitter — striking out to end the 1933 All-Star Game …

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Hyun-Jin Ryu struggles in return

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By Jon Weisman

The question with Hyun-Jin Ryu tonight, or at least one of the big ones after he spent more than a year recovering from shoulder surgery, was about the effectiveness of his fastball.

The San Diego Padres didn’t have much trouble answering it, knocking eight hits and scoring six runs over 4 2/3 innings, the length of Ryu’s first big-league appearance since the 2014 playoffs, in a 6-0 victory.

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‘Jackie Robinson’ doc explores complex life

Jackie pic

By Jon Weisman

Tonight, the two-night, four-hour documentary “Jackie Robinson” premieres on PBS. In this piece for Dodger Insider magazine, I interviewed Ken Burns about how the documentary seeks to humanize a figure that time has made more mythological.

With each passing year, the stature of Jackie Robinson looms larger in the history of baseball and the United States.

But it has been nearly 70 years since Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier, nearly 60 years since he retired from baseball and well over 40 years since he passed away. And in that time, the flesh-and-blood Robinson has only grown more and more remote.

“This is a person who has become kind of one-dimensional, [because] heroism in our media culture tends to make you just one-dimensional — perfect,” said famed documentarian Ken Burns, who with his daughter Sarah and son-in-law David McMahon directed and produced the four-hour “Jackie Robinson,” airing in April on PBS. …

Read the entire article here, or in Dodger Insider magazine, which officially launches its new edition at Dodger Stadium’s Opening Day on Tuesday.

In case you missed it: Utley’s suspension canceled

Chase Utley works out on February 29. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Chase Utley works out on February 29. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Indians at Dodgers, 12:05 p.m.
Joc Pederson, CF
Corey Seager, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Scott Van Slyke, LF
Yasmani Grandal, C
Trayce Thompson, RF
Rob Segedin, 3B
Shawn Zarraga, DH
Charlie Culberson, 2B
(Alex Wood, P)

By Jon Weisman

Chase Utley spoke to reporters today about MLB rescinding his two-game suspension for his hard slide into Ruben Tejada at last year’s National League Division Series.

“At the end of the day, I believe that he believes the slide was not an illegal slide,” Utley said, according to Bill Plunkett of the Register.

Utley also spoke about Tejada, according to Doug Padilla of ESPN.com.

“I can’t say enough how terrible I felt for Ruben,” Utley said. “I had no intent to hurt him whatsoever. If anybody thinks I did, they’re completely wrong.”

Bill Shaikin and Mike DiGiovanna of the Times reported Sunday that the suspension would be withdrawn by MLB, which last month revised its rulebook about plays at second base.

… Tejada, vulnerable because his back was turned toward Utley, suffered a fractured right fibula and was sidelined for the rest of the playoffs. In announcing the suspension for what an MLB statement called an “illegal slide,” (MLB chief baseball officer Joe) Torre cited Utley for a “rolling block … away from the base.”

However, such a slide was not explicitly outlawed until Feb. 25, when MLB adopted a new rule to protect middle infielders on slides into second. As a result, Torre said Sunday, the league might have faced difficulty upholding the suspension via an appeal hearing.

“I think it would have been an issue,” Torre said. “There wasn’t anything clear-cut to say that play violated a rule.”

Torre said the priority for the league was not in pursuing a suspension of Utley but in revising the rules to enhance player safety. …

Here are some more pregame news and notes …

  • Howie Kendrick was going to make his first Spring Training start at third base today, but he was a late scratch because of right groin soreness. For the second time in three days, Shawn Zarraga was called upon to serve as emergency designated hitter, with Rob Segedin taking the start at third.
  • Carl Crawford confirmed to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com that he has been told he will begin the season as a reserve left fielder behind Andre Ethier.
  • Gurnick rounds up some more health updates, including two innings of live batting practice by Julio Urias and the resumption of Hyun-Jin Ryu’s throwing program after a week off.
  • Also, Ethier has a right-hand contusion but was able to continue most baseball activities today, while Alex Guerrero is also back at it and is a candidate to start at designated hitter on Tuesday.
  • Micah Johnson spoke to Padilla about his bid to carve out playing time for himself at what’s become a crowded second base for the Dodgers.
  • SportsNet LA’s Alanna Rizzo was among those to speak with Richard Deitsch of SI.com in this comprehensive story about safety issues facing female sports reporters.
  • The story of Clayton Kershaw’s Public Enemy No. 1 is introduced from the point of view of the batter, Sean Casey, in this Anthony Castrovince story for Sports on Earth.
  • UCLA unveiled a Jackie Robinson statue on campus Sautrday, writes Chad Thornburg of MLB.com. In December, the Dodgers announced plans for their own Robinson statue at Dodger Stadium this year.
  • Tom Knight, a preeminent Brooklyn baseball historian, is remembered in this obituary by Bruce Weber for the New York Times.

Bridges to history: Last links to retired numbers

Reese Fairly

By Jon Weisman

With the Dodgers celebrating their 10 retired numbers in a pin series this year, I was curious who was the last active player to take the field with each of these legends. Here’s what I found:

1 Pee Wee Reese
Ron Fairly, who was 19 when making his debut with the 40-year-old Reese as a teammate on the 1958 “Welcome to Los Angeles” Dodgers, was 40 himself when he played his last big-league game in 1978. Years between Reese’s first game and Fairly’s last: 38

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Dodgers Love L.A.: A special day connecting the dots between Jackie Robinson and Dave Roberts

Jorge Jarrin, Dave Roberts and Mark Langill address students at Muir High School.

Jorge Jarrin, Dave Roberts and Mark Langill address students at Muir High School.

By Jon Weisman

It’s no exaggeration to say that Jackie Robinson is the pride of Muir High School, just as he is the pride of the Dodgers and, for that matter, the United States.

A tribute to Jackie Robinson in the Muir High School museum.

A tribute to Jackie Robinson in the Muir High School museum (click to enlarge)

So it was a special day for everyone today when this week’s Dodgers Love L.A. community tour (presented by Bank of America) made a stop at Muir, with a screening of portions of Ken Burns’ upcoming “Jackie Robinson” documentary, followed by a Q&A featuring manager Dave Roberts and team historian Mark Langill, moderated by broadcaster Jorge Jarrin.

Many of the four score students in attendance today will graduate from Muir exactly 80 years after Robinson did. But not to worry — his story still resonates.

“I loved the documentary,” said Bryan Barrios, senior captain of the Muir baseball team. “It was very inspiring (and) emotional. I walk around this campus just thinking about Jackie Robinson all the time. Sometimes I can’t believe he came here.”

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Martin Luther King and Jackie Robinson: A collection of connection

mlk jackie

By Jon Weisman

For Martin Luther King Day, here are some tidbits celebrating the civil rights leader’s connection with Jackie Robinson the Dodgers.

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Jackie Robinson statue to grace Dodger Stadium

robinson_jackie2

By Jon Weisman

A statue of Jackie Robinson, approximately nine to ten feet tall, will be unveiled at Dodger Stadium in 2016 at a location to be determined.

California-based sculptor Branly Cadet will create the Robinson statue, which will be followed in the future by other such pieces, according to Dodger president and CEO Stan Kasten.

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Chase Utley slide joins most controversial plays in Dodger playoff history

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By Jon Weisman

Jackie Robinson safe at home in 1949. Davey Lopes safe at first in 1977. The heat of Hanley Ramirez’s rib fractured by a pitch — two years ago this very day — still simmers. And above all, Reggie Jackson’s hip.

Nothing tops their notoriety in Dodger postseason history, but entering that pantheon is Chase Utley’s slide, a play we will be talking about for years.

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Dodgers Franchise Four: Drysdale, Koufax, Robinson, Snider

FF_LAD_WINNERS_1024x512

Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, Jackie Robinson and Duke Snider were announced during tonight’s All-Star pregame as the winners of MLB’s Franchise Four balloting, which basically picks the equivalent of the franchise’s Mount Rushmore from its history of players.

Among those with Dodger ties, Mike Piazza was chosen for the New York Mets, Pedro Martinez for the Boston Red Sox, Frank Robinson for the Baltimore Orioles, Paul Konerko for the Chicago White Sox, Jim Thome for the Cleveland Indians, Rickey Henderson for the Oakland A’s, Adrian Beltre for the Texas Rangers, Luis Gonzalez for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Greg Maddux for the Atlanta Braves, Gary Sheffield for the Miami Marlins and Gary Carter for the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals.

— Jon Weisman

Jackie Robinson explains how the Dodgers missed out on Willie Mays

Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers (L) congratulates New York Giant Willie Mays, after the Giants beat the Dodgers 7 to 1, capturing the 1954 National League pennant.  (American Academy of Achievement)

Jackie Robinson congratulates Willie Mays after the Giants clinched the 1954 National League pennant with a 7-1 victory over the Dodgers on September 20. (American Academy of Achievement)

By Jon Weisman

It’s often been told how the Dodgers let Hall of Fame outfielder Roberto Clemente slip through their grasp, but while it’s no secret, the tale of how Willie Mays could have been a Dodger is less well known. Here’s Jackie Robinson’s version, as written by Frank Finch in the June 6, 1965 edition of the Times:

Jackie Robinson, here to telecast the game for ABC, was telling friends about the time he first was given a “chance” to break the color barrier in baseball. “Sam Jethroe and I worked out with the Boston Red Sox in 1945 while we were with the Kansas City Monarchs. They took our names and phone numbers, but we never heard from them. I signed with Mr. (Branch) Rickey later that year.”

Jackie says the Dodgers blew a chance to land Willie Mays when he was a 16-year-old phenom with the Birmingham Black Barons. “The Dodger players were much impressed with Mays when we played an exhibition game with the Barons,” said Jackie. “The front office in Brooklyn was contracted, but Wid Mathews, Mr. Rickey’s assistant, turned down Willie because Wid said he couldn’t hit a curve ball.”

More is written about Matthews at the SABR Baseball Biography Project. The game against Mays would have taken place shortly after Robinson broke in with the Dodgers in 1947. Mays, of course, broke in with the Giants in 1951.

Below, here’s a snapshot of Mays with Tommy Lasorda while the pair were playing in Cuba.

Tommy and Willie Mays in Cuba

Approximate translation:

Two new “Scorpions”

Willie Mays, outfielder who has brought the “Almendares” (old Cuban League team that represented the Almendares district of Habana) to replace Williams marching ahead. He appears with another defensive player(?) in the blue jersey, Tom Lasorda, who was left of the payroll of Marianao (another Cuban baseball team that represented the Marianao district in Habana) despite that he has four wins and two losses. His lack of control was the reason for his release from the Marianao team. In 51 2/3 innings, he’s given up 54 walks.

There’s never been a Dodger quite like Justin Turner

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Miami Marlins Wednesday, May 13, 2015 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles,California.  Photo by Jon SooHoo/©Los Angeles Dodgers,LLC 2015

Diamondbacks at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Chris Heisey, CF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Alex Guerrero, LF
Yasmani Grandal, C
Kiké Hernandez, SS
Alberto Callaspo, 3B
Carlos Frias, P

By Jon Weisman

Justin Turner’s knee is still stiff after taking a foul ball Monday, and Joc Pederson is “a bit worn down and beat up,” so they are resting tonight along with Andre Ethier against Arizona lefty Robbie Ray.

I can barely remember how I lived before Baseball Reference’s searchable Play Index came into my life, but a perfect example of the irrational pleasures it provides me came Monday night, when I got it into my head to figure out where Turner ranked offensively in history among Dodger third basemen.

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