Dodger Thoughts

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

Tag: Jim Gilliam

At 39, Chase Utley can still be more than an on-field coach

Dave Roberts and Chase Utley in April 2017 (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Here’s something that might surprise you, because it surprised me — Chase Utley actually hit the ball well for the better part of 2017.

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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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Remembering ’65: See-saw second half of August

remembering-65-wide-v1-grass

By Jon Weisman

When might you be having a charmed season? When you’re scoreless with two out in the bottom of the 10th inning, Sandy Koufax bats for himself and walks, and then Roberto Clemente — of all people — drops a fly ball to allow the game-winning run to score.

That’s what happened August 14, 1965 at Dodger Stadium to allow the Dodgers to win, 1-0.

“It was sinking all the way,” Jim Gilliam, who hit the ball at Clemente, told Frank Finch of the Times. “Clemente first had his glove up in front of his chest, but at the last moment had to shift it. That’s when he muffed the ball.”

Said Clemente: “I was groping for the ball. I lost it.”

Though there were still many skeptics about the ’65 Dodgers, one who saw their potential was Pirates third baseman Bob Bailey.

“They’re not just giving an 80% effort like some teams,” Bailey told Times columnist Sid Ziff. “They go all out. They go for the extra base, the squeeze bunt, the impossible catch. And, of course, they’ve got tremendous pitching.”

But rather using the Clemente game to launch like a rocket to the National League pennant, the Dodgers would have one of their bumpiest weeks of the year.

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Remembering ’65: Jim Gilliam comes out of retirement to rescue Dodgers

remembering-65-wide-v1-grass
LAD-JIM-GILLIAM-0013Fifty years ago today, the Dodgers activated retired third-base coach Jim Gilliam to return to the field.

“The old pro is back,” Walter Alston told the Times.

Though he had been a full-time coach, Gilliam had been taking batting and infield practice since Spring Training.

“I’m glad to be back on the roster,” he said. “I think I can help the club, and that’s all that counts.

Alston cautioned that he didn’t “intend to play Jim at third base very much, but there will be times when he will finish up the game there after pinch-hitting.”

That plan lasted for about three days. The 36-year-old Gilliam played 16 innings across a May 31 doubleheader and went on to start 99 more games during the remainder of the 1965 season and all seven in the ’65 World Series.

In a story that appeared in Dodger Insider magazine this month, Mark Langill offers a fond look back at how Gilliam’s improbable comeback boosted the Dodgers to a title. (Click each page below to enlarge.)

— Jon Weisman

Gilliam page 1
Gilliam page 2
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In case you missed it: The curious case of Clayton Kershaw

Los Angeles Dodgers at Oakland Athletics

By Jon Weisman

The good news for Clayton Kershaw is, he’s healthy.

Not to mention that for the first two innings — six up, six down — of today’s 7-3 loss to Oakland, the Dodger ace made last week’s start look like every bit the aberration we thought it was. Six up, six down.

Then came a third inning which, as much as anything, was reminiscent of the third inning of Game 6 of the 2013 National League Championship Series.

Kershaw allowed two walks, an RBI single and another walk that loaded the bases. Then former Dodger Nick Punto came up, got ahead in the count and began fouling off pitches, just like Matt Carpenter did in his 11-pitch NLCS at-bat against Kershaw.

Punto won this marathon, singling to right field to drive in two more runs, and Kershaw was pulled mid-inning, ultimately charged with five runs.

And by the sounds of it, he was ready to sentence himself to pitcher jail. From Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:

… “It’s not fun to deal with,” said Kershaw, who has an 18.00 ERA. “Physically, I feel great. I don’t have any excuses. I don’t know, searching for answers right now. I know it’s Spring Training, it doesn’t matter, but it matters to me.”

Mattingly said he wasn’t panicking.

“The first two innings were really good, then he got out of rhythm and couldn’t find it,” Mattingly said. “Good thing is, it’s Spring Training, that’s why we’re here. He had the same kind of spring last year. He has a level of expectation of always being good. I don’t have a problem with that. He expects to be in midseason form, and we keep working toward that. He gets frustrated. That’s why we love him.” …

On the opposite end of the spectrum was Seth Rosin, who followed his two-inning, five-strikeout outing Wednesday by tossing three shutout innings with three strikeouts today. That included pitching out of a second-and-third, none-out jam in the fourth inning, thanks to an Adrian Gonzalez throwing error.

“This outing is actually more impressive to me than his first outing,” SportsNet LA analyst Orel Hershiser said on the air. “Today, he’s facing some adversity, against a team swinging the bat really well, and he’s still able to get them out.”

Rosin, by the way, was born in 1988, 7 1/2 months after Kershaw and a couple weeks after the Dodgers won the World Series.

Coming in behind Rosin on the highlight reel was Dee Gordon, who had an RBI triple for the second consecutive game, and Andre Ethier and Miguel Olivo, who each had two hits.

[mlbvideo id=”31426707″ width=”400″ height=”224″ /]

Family Friday

© Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers 2012

Without further or farther ado …

  • From the Dodger press notes: “The Spring Training Baseball Show with Kevin Kennedy and David Vassegh on Dodger radio partner AM 570 Fox Sports L.A. rolls on tonight after the duo debuted yesterday. The show will air tonight from 9:00-10:00 p.m. PT, but the hour-long show will normally air six days a week (excluding Sunday) at 7:00 p.m. PT. “
  • A fun video of the Dodgers during 1967 Spring Training includes great shots of coach Jim Gilliam, manager Walter Alston and an earful of 21-year-old Don Sutton. Thanks to Roberto Baly of Vin Scully Is My Homeboy.
  • The Dodgers signed two players from their tryout camp, Blake Johnson and Brandon Mims, and both have interesting backstories that Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness chronicles.
  • Today in Jon SooHoo: My favorites are the smiling Clayton Kershaw with Sandy Koufax (and Rick Honeycutt), A.J. Ellis with Chad Billingsley and broadcaster Jaime Jarrin with his grandson, Dodger minor-leaguer Stefan Jarrin.
  • Ellis, devaluing his own on-base skills (and his minor-league track record), told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com that batting eighth helped him draw walks and seemed not to want to feast on the fastballs that would come batting in front of Matt Kemp.

    … “I love hitting eighth. I take it as a challenge and embrace it. There’s a strong mental aspect to it and I feel privileged in that spot. Jamey Carroll hit eighth a lot for us and he taught me a lot.

    “Before my first game at Triple-A, Tim Wallach was manager and he called me in and told me I would hit eighth no matter what, because that’s where I would hit in the big leagues and it’s the most important position. After that, I took pride in it.”

  • Related: Chris St. John of The Platoon Advantage studied how minor-league walk and strikeout rates for batters correlated with major-league performance.
  • Why not? Mark Timmons of LADodgerTalk.com predicts 30 wins for Clayton Kershaw. A safer bet than 50-50 for Matt Kemp?
  • Former top MLB draft pick Brien Taylor, whose story I linked to recently on Dodger Thoughts, has been arrested for cocaine trafficking.
  • Jim McLennan of AZSnakepit looks back at Spring Training 2011 and writes about what the regular season would have been like if it had continued in the same fashion. Among other things, Arizona would have lost 109 games.
  • Kerris Dorsey, who played Billy Beane’s daughter so well in “Moneyball,” was cast in a Showtime pilot, “Ray Donovan,” starring voice of HBO Sports Liev Schreiber.
  • The title says it all: Eastbound and Downton.

Vigil tonight for Bryan Stow and against fan violence

Many of us are hoping that somehow, what happened to Bryan Stow becomes a turning point in the problem of fan violence. Here’s an example of some Southern Californians showing some initiative:

A community vigil in support of Bryan Stow, the victim of a beating in the Dodger Stadium parking lot after last week’s opening game, is scheduled for Wednesday at 6 p.m. PT at the Los Angeles County Medical Center.

The vigil’s grass-roots sponsors, which include the Garfield High School Healthy Start Collaborative, East Los Angeles Prevention Project and the Latino Equality Alliance, are supporting Stow’s recovery while also taking a stand against the violence of his attack. Stow has been in a medically induced coma for the past several days.

He suffered a severe skull fracture and bad bruising to his brain’s frontal lobes, Dr. Gabriel Zada, a neurosurgeon, said Tuesday.

At one point, doctors had to remove the entire left side of his skull to ease pressure on his brain. The pressure is now normal but Stow remains in a coma from his injuries and from sedation to reduce his brain activity, Zada said.

“There is evidence of brain injury and dysfunction,” Zada said.

It was reported Tuesday that Stow, a San Francisco Giants fan, sent a text message while inside the stadium to family indicating that he was scared of what might happen to him.

“In response to this tragic event and to show our support for the victim, we call upon all community leaders, Dodgers fans and Angelinos to stand in solidarity with Giants fans and the family of Bryan Stow against any form of violence,” said a statement on the vigil’s Facebook page. “We call upon our community leaders to address this growing problem with our urban youth and young adults. We need to evaluate and respond to the issue of alcohol and substance abuse association with community violence.”

Organizers said a press conference would follow the vigil.

The L.A. County Supervisors, the L.A. City Council, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Giants and Stow’s employer, American Medical Response, have led contributions to a reward now totaling $100,000 for information leading to the arrest of the individuals who inflicted the beating on Stow, a paramedic and father of two from Santa Cruz, Calif.

The Giants announced Tuesday that “The Bryan Stow Fund” had been established through the San Francisco Police Credit Union. Donations can be made and further information can be found at www.sfpcu.org.

Here’s more of the latest news on Stow, a combined report by wire services and ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Tony Jackson.

* * *

  • Jim Murray on Jim Gilliam, 50 years ago today (via the Daily Mirror):

    … You might say Jim is with the Dodgers but not of them. The distinction is important. He starts every season in the dugout. He sleeps every night with his bag packed at his feet and rumors of a trade swirling around in his dreams. He lives his life in a kind of limbo midway between the Dodgers and the rest of the National League.

    Then the season starts and some “phenom” begins to leak at the seams, the stuffing oozing out of him at every trip to the plate. The manager sets a hysterical search amid the bat bags, locker room towels and press clippings of his wunderkind — and there sits Jim Gilliam, waiting. …

    When the Dodgers came to L.A., they brought Jim along with all the enthusiasm of a man asking his mother-in-law on the honeymoon. They had a hot-shot third baseman named Dick Gray, and began to offer Gilliam around like a claiming horse until Gray began to leak like a sieve in the field and strike out on balls the catcher couldn’t get his glove on.

    Gilliam became a third baseman and the Dodgers became World Champions …

  • Here’s a really nice column on the passing of a TV insider by Variety’s Brian Lowry.

    … His most memorable line is a cautionary one I’ve quoted for years — one that addresses the way coveted Hollywood promotions are often fraught with peril: “The best job you’ll ever have,” he said, “is the one that precedes the one you always wanted.” …

Dodgers had momentum, heart and purpose in 1978 … and it wasn’t enough


APJim Gilliam spent 25 years – half his life – in a Dodger uniform.

Keeping with this week’s theme

Davey Lopes, wearing Gilliam’s 19 on his sleeve during Game 1 of the ’78 Series, worshiped the Dodger coach.

Game 1 of the 2010 World Series almost exactly matched the final score of Game 1 of the 1978 World Series. That was Dodgers 11, Yankees 5, and it was played the night the Dodgers, for the only time in their history, retired the number of a non-Hall of Famer.

Jim Gilliam had passed away two nights earlier, barely 24 hours after the Dodgers won the National League pennant.

From Ross Newhan of the Times:

Throughout the playoff victory over Philadelphia he was driven by the memory of his relationship with Jim Gilliam, saying he had never before reached such an emotional peak, that when he went to the plate he could hear Gilliam speaking to him.

Davey Lopes, the Los Angeles captain, again resembled a man possessed Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium as the Dodgers, dedicated to sustaining the memory, crushed the New York Yankees, 11-5, in the inartistic opening game of the 75th World Series.

Lopes, who batted .389 against the Phillies, hitting two home runs while driving in six runs, ripped a two-run homer in the second inning and a three-run homer in the fourth, propelling the Dodgers into a lead that was 7-0 before Tommy John permitted his first run. …

The flags in center field were at half-staff and the game began only after the crowd was asked to join in a moment of silent meditation. The Dodgers carried a memorium to Gilliam on the sleeve of their uniform, a black patch with Gilliam’s No. 19 embossed in white.

“We dedicated the pennant to Jim,” manager Tom Lasorda said, “and we are determined to dedicate a world championship to him.” …

“Jimmy is up there watching us,” Lopes said following Tuesday’s victory. “His spirit is in each of us. The Yankees beat 25 guys last year and this year they’ll have to beat 50 of us. We’re going to do our damndest to win this for him and we’re confident we will.”

Things only became more emotional the next day. “On the afternoon of October 11,” I wrote in “100 Things,” “with Game 2’s first pitch hours away, baseball paused and gathered at Trinity Baptist Church to pay their respects – 2,000 strong – at Gilliam’s funeral. A memorable photo from that day shows Dodger tormentor Reggie Jackson of the Yankees standing solemnly between Lopes and Tommy Lasorda. All three delivered eulogies.” That long day’s journey into night ended with Bob Welch’s legendary triumph over Reggie Jackson for the final out.

From “100 Things”:

Clinging to a 4-3 lead in the top of the ninth, the Dodgers sent out Terry Forster for his third inning of work. Yankee playoff hero Bucky Dent opened the inning with a single to left field and moved to second on a groundout. A walk to Paul Blair put the go-ahead run on base, signaling that Forster had passed his expiration date.

Lasorda’s do-or-die replacement had 24 career appearances, 11 in relief. The two batters he needed to get out, Thurman Munson and Jackson, had 465 career home runs – three of them hit by Jackson in the last game of the previous year’s World Series. Dodger fans at the stadium and across the country waited for the roof to cave in.

Welch fed a strike in against Munson, who hit a sinking drive to right field that Reggie Smith caught at his knees.

APSteve Yeager is triumphant as Reggie Jackson strikes out.

It was Jackson time.  This wasn’t just any slugger.  This was the enemy personified, a man, though well-liked in his later years, considered perhaps the most egotistical, vilifiable ballplayer in the game.

Welch began by inducing Jackson to overswing and miss. With Drysdalesque flair, he then sent in a high, tight fastball that sent Jackson spinning into the dirt.

Jackson later told Earl Gustkey of the Times that he was expecting Welch to mix in some of his good offspeed pitches, but instead came three fastballs, each of which were fouled off.  Then there was a waste fastball high and outside to even the count at 2-2.

After another foul ball, another high and outside fastball brought a full count. The runners would be moving. Short of another foul, this would be it.

As everyone inhaled, in came the heat.  Amped up, Jackson swung for the fences – not the Dodger Stadium fences, but the fences all the way back in New York.

Only after Jackson missed the ball and nearly wrapped the bat around himself like a golf club, only through Jackson’s rage, could Dodger fans begin to comprehend what happened.

Jackson carried his fury into the dugout and clubhouse with him, pushing first a fan on his way to the dugout and then Yankee manager Bob Lemon once inside.

The only thing that could have made the event better for Dodger fans would have been for them to have had longer to enjoy it. The Dodgers didn’t win the World Series that year; they didn’t win another game. Welch himself was the losing pitcher in Game 4, allowing a two-out, 10th-inning run in his third inning of work, and gave up a homer to Jackson in Game 6. But for a moment, the Dodgers and their fans enjoyed one of the most triumphant and exhilarating victories over the Yankees ever imaginable.

There probably hasn’t been a more emotionally charged Los Angeles Dodger team in history. That includes 1988. This was a team that had revenge and redemption on its mind all year, feelings that were only intensified by the passing of their beloved coach.

And they fell in their next four games – a 5-1 Game 3 loss, the bitter 10-inning, Game 4 defeat that starred Jackson’s moving hip, and then the final two games by a combined 19-4.

Sometimes, the stars seem aligned; sometimes, you have every reason to believe. And sometimes you lose, even when you leave everything you have, absolutely everything, on the field.

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