Vin Scully said that "his legacy is the thought that unheralded players can rise to the heights, that someone who at the time was considered an ordinary athlete could wind up pitching Game 1 of the World Series."
Joe Black wasn't a superstar. He had experienced some success with the Negro League Baltimore Elite Giants, but was far from their top player. Black still had the stuff to make people notice, though. With a monster fastball, a deceptive slider, and pinpoint control the Dodgers decided to take a flyer out on him, so they signed him up for the 1952 season.
His career started out with a bang. Black didn't allow an earned run out of the bullpen in his first 9 appearance. He finishing the year with a 15-4 record (14 wins as a reliever), 2.12 ERA, and 15 saves. Winning Rookie of the Year honors he also placed third in voting for the MVP. Heck, Joe Black was so good out of the pen, Dodger manager Chuck Dressen decided to have him start his last 2 games of the 1952 season in preparation for a World Series start.
In game 1 against the Yankees he stepped out onto the mound and shut them down in a 4-2 complete game win. Black then pitched game 3, but allowed one run too many as the Dodgers couldn't muster a run against Allie Reynolds. Then, in deciding game 7, he couldn't hold back the inevitable as the Yankees walked away with the title on homers by Woodling and Mantle.
We didn't win the championship, but thought we gained a new star. Unfortunately, the future would not be so great. Over the next spring, with Dressen's urging, Joe would try to learn some some new pitches, but found that the effort messed with his control. Soon, he lost his touch and would never be as good as that first season in Brooklyn.
At the end, Joe Black was an ordinary pitcher with one extraordinary season, and it's a season still spoken about today. Featured here is another card from my autograph collection. It is Joe Black's 2001 Fleer 'Greats of the Game' auto'd insert card.