Dodger Thoughts

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

Tag: Ralph Branca

Visiting the Hall of Fame
Part 1: Brooklyn memories

It was a Cooperstown Surprise.

Last weekend brought me to the wilds of New York for family reasons, on a trip that had been planned for months but near the last minute unexpectedly left me with a free day. Staying only 90 minutes from the National Baseball Hall of Fame, I rose at 6:30 a.m. Sunday, on four hours sleep after having traveled all Saturday from home, and made the drive to a little slice of baseball heaven. 

At age 51, this was my second trip to the Hall — my first came when I was 14. People have asked me if the Hall seemed different, but so much time has passed that the biggest compare and contrast I can make is doing the trip with my dad vs. doing it solo. 

That said, another major difference was having a cellphone, as opposed to only memories that would fade over time. I took more than 200 photos, and with this year’s annual induction ceremony only days away, there seems to be no better time for me to share some of them with you (with apologies for the quality). I’m going to divide them into multiple posts, starting with this one centered on the Brooklyn Dodgers. 

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The real tragedy of the Dodgers’ 1951 collapse

National Baseball Hall of Fame Library

If you’re a Dodger fan under the age of 70, which would seemingly cover a lot of you, how much do you really mind that the Dodgers didn’t win the 1951 pennant?

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Previewing Brothers in Arms
Part One: The Kings of Brooklyn

Hi again. Next in this series of teases for the May 1 release of Brothers in Arms: Koufax, Kershaw, and the Dodgers’ Extraordinary Pitching Tradition (pre-order now!) is a preview of “Part One: The Kings of Brooklyn,” focusing on the beginnings of the Dodger pitching tradition and running through the man who finished off the franchise’s first World Series title.

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Jansen, Kershaw, Seager named to NL All-Star team


By Jon Weisman

The wait is over for Kenley Jansen, and it never began for Corey Seager.

The Dodgers’ veteran closer and rookie shortstop have each been named to their first National League All-Star team, where they are joined at least in spirit by Clayton Kershaw — who despite his current back injury earned his sixth consecutive All-Star spot.

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In case you missed it: Opening Day is one month away

Kid collage 030515js393

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

For more photos from Thursday, visit LA Photog Blog.

By Jon Weisman

Opening Day is one month away. Opening Day is one month away. And this kid looks ready.

Here are the latest links:

  • Clayton Kershaw looked outstanding Thursday, but he said he had to make an adjustment to fix his slider before his second inning, according to Ken Gurnick of
  • As Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles points out, Spring Training for Kershaw is as much about building endurance as anything else.
  • Saxon also had a good Q&A with Ellis, touching quickly on several different subjects.
  • Kershaw and Ellis described their adjustment to the new 145-second time limit between innings, in this Dylan Hernandez story for the Times. More from both in this video here.
  • It’s actually fun to watch big-leaguers adjust to MLB’s caveat-filled directive to keep one foot in the batter’s box, as Mike Oz points out at Big League Stew.
  • Farhan Zaidi talked platooning in this story by Bill Plunkett of the Register. An excerpt:

    (Joc) Pederson has a mercurial relationship with left-handed pitching. He hit lefties well in the Class-A California League (a .330 average), struggled against them in Double-A two years ago (.200) then handled them well in Triple-A last year (.299 with a 1.020 OPS).

    “It’s interesting. I think with lefties you see that more,” Zaidi said of the fluctuations. “One, you’re dealing with left-on-left sample sizes that are pretty small. So there’s just some noise there anyway. And then I just think with lefties it kind of comes and goes a little bit.

    “As a general rule, righties will have more consistent splits from year to year. Lefties will have a good year against left-handed pitching and then they’ll have a down year. Really getting a gauge for how guys are performing in that role as early as possible definitely helps. I’ll say this – the sort of exciting thing about him (Pederson) is that he has everyday potential because he has had seasons of success against lefties. There are guys who always struggle in that role.”

  • It might take all of Spring Training for Don Mattingly to decide how he sets up his bullpen in the absence of Kenley Jansen, Mattingly told Gurnick.
  • Here’s an exhaustive evaluation of top Dodger prospects by Kiley McDaniel at Fangraphs.
  • MLB official historian John Thorn has been running a series of posts at Our Game on baseball’s greatest photographs. Here is Part 5, and here is a cool Neil Leifer shot of Willie Davis in Part 2.
  • NYU, the school that produced Ralph Branca (and my wife), has brought back varsity baseball after a 41-year absence, writes Tom Pedulla for the New York Times. A group photo from the early 1940s that includes Branca runs with the story.

In case you missed it: Links from around the Internet

Los Angeles Dodgers Vin Scully is Grand Marshall of the Rose Parade

By Jon Weisman

We’ll make it a habit at Dodger Insider to provide links to noteworthy news and features around the Internet, though this first edition ends on a somber note.

  • One last look at Vin Scully’s big day as Grand Marshal of the Rose Parade, as seen through the lens of Dodger team photographer Jon SooHoo.
  • Hanley Ramirez is the top shortstop and Clayton Kershaw the top pitcher in Tristan H. Cockcroft’s rankings of fantasy players in major-league baseball for  Ramirez is eighth among overall players (Mike Trout of the Angels is first) and Kershaw 11th. Zack Greinke is 33rd overall and Matt Kemp, despite his recent injury struggles, is 36th. Kenley Jansen (54th) is third among relievers.
  • Former Dodger infielder Ryan Theriot has retired, according to teenage wundereporter Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish (via MLB Trade Rumors). Acquired in the same 2010 midseason deal that brought the Dodgers Ted Lilly in exchange for Blake DeWitt, Brett Wallach and Kyle Smit, Theriot had a .323 on-base percentage and .283 slugging percentage in 228 plate appearances for the Dodgers. That November, he was traded to St. Louis for Blake Hawksworth. Theriot’s last regular-season at-bat was at Dodger Stadium in October 2012, wearing a Giants uniform, with Clayton Kershaw striking him out.
  • A history of Dodger air travel is offered by Ron Cervenka at Think Blue L.A.
  • Manny Mota was inducted into the Baseball Reliquary Shrine of the Eternals in 2013, and Emma Amaya of Dodger Blue World has videos of the ceremony, including Mota’s acceptance speech. “I am fortunate and blessed to have been able to do what I loved the most,” Mota said. “Baseball has given me and my family so much.” Amaya herself received the Reliquary’s Hilda Chester award for distinguished service to the game by a baseball fan.
  • Ralph Branca turns 88 today, and Dakota Gardner has a piece on him for Cut4 — including his winning streak on the game show “Concentration.”
  • Does it help to have an innings-eater take one for the team in order to rest a tired bullpen? An analysis by Bryan Cole at Beyond the Box Score suggests that the effect might not be as much as you think.
  • Baseball lifer Jerry Coleman, the famed Padres play-by-play announcer (and the only active Major League player to see combat in two military conflicts), has passed away. “We were much richer for having known him,” Scully said. “He had a wonderful and full life as a Major League player, a war hero and a Hall of Fame broadcaster. He was a sweet good natured and happy soul and he will be sorely missed. Our sympathies are extended to his family and all the many wonderful friends that he had.”

No offense, but they need offense

Twenty-three years since the World Series last began with the Dodgers …

  • Don Mattingly gave an interview to 710 ESPN’s Mason and Ireland in which he said the Dodgers’ biggest need was “offense, no question” but added that he wasn’t confident the team would sign a big-time slugger.
  • Roberto Baly of Vin Scully Is My Homeboy posted a 2012 Dodger schedule with preliminary game times that put the start of Opening Day at 3:35 p.m. in San Diego. Clayton Kershaw pitching in Petco Park with shadows starting to spread across the field? Intriguing …
  • The Left Field Pavilion Blog posted a fantastic picture of Carl Furillo’s great catch in Game 6 of the 1952 World Series for the Dodgers.
  • It’s the 30th anniversary of Rick Monday’s Canadian clout – the pennant-winning home run in Montreal, notes Chris Jaffe of the Hardball Times.
  • Also from Jaffe: a piece on the 10 weirdest career-ending performances of all time.
  • David Ogden reviewed the ballpark at Dodger minor-league affiliate Ogden for Stadium Journey.
  • Satchel Price of Beyond the Boxscore picked a 2011 all-National League West team, with Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw and … Jamey Carroll earning spots.
  • Kershaw won the Warren Spahn Award for best left-handed pitcher in baseball in 2011.
  • For Variety, I wrote two pieces looking at the World Series from a TV ratings angle: a main story and a blog post that, among other things, note that much more important to Fox than the teams in the World Series is the length. Game 7s in the past 20 years improve the audience that watched a Game 6 by approximately 50% on average.
  • Bob Timmermann defends the all-Midwest World Series at L.A. Observed’s Native Intelligence.
  • Tom Hoffarth of the Daily News has a piece on why Fox doesn’t believe in a live strike-zone pitch-tracker.
  • With a new book coming out on the 60th anniversary of the Shot Heard ‘Round the World, Ralph Branca gave an interesting interview to the Platoon Advantage.
  • Josh Fisher, Esq. of Dodger Divorce answered some questions about the McCourt divorce settlement at ESPNLosAngeles.

August 15 game chat

As we wait for the third-place Los Angeles Dodgers to take the field …

  • Beating victim Brian Stow is making what his doctors say is “significant” improvement, according to The Associated Press, but his ultimate prognosis remains unclear.
  • Sweep or no sweep, Evan Bladh of Opinion of Kingman’s Performance is jealous of the Houston Astros for stockpiling prospects.
  • Matt Kemp guested on the Dan Patrick Show today – Roberto Baly of Vin Scully Is My Homeboy passes along the link. Kemp said that “of course” he wants to stay with the Dodgers.
  • In case you missed it Sunday, catch up with Tony Jackson’s warm piece on Dodger shortstop Justin Sellers at
  • Kind of a fascinating story from Joshua Prager in the New York Times about former Dodger Ralph Branca discovering his heritage.

Kershaw cruises in Dodger shutout

Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesScott Rolen and Russ Mitchell in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Line Dancers”

Dodgers 2, Reds 0


  • Clayton Kershaw pitched four shutout innings, allowing two baserunners and striking out three.
  • Lance Cormier, Jon Huber, Roman Colon, Wilkin De La Rosa and Oscar Villarreal completed the shutout, allowing four hits, walking one and striking out one.
  • Matt Kemp doubled in Casey Blake in the fourth inning.
  • Dee Gordon singled, stole second and scored in the eighth inning after singles by Aaron Miles and Trent Oeltjen.
  • John Lindsey doubled in his first spring at-bat.
  • The Dodgers turned three double plays.


  • We’re going to give lowlights the evening off …


  • Ralph Branca shared his memories of Duke Snider in the New York Times.
  • The Dodgers were dead last in 2010 international spending with a mere $314,000, according to Baseball America. The efforts to step it up outside our borders are lagging, to say the least.
  • Minor-leaguer Luis Vasquez is a “clubhouse sensation” with his magic tricks, writes Ken Gurnick of

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