Tuesday, July 09, 2013

RIP, Dick Gray - The Man Who Hit LA's 1st Home Run

The Dodger family received some sad news yesterday.  Dick Gray, LA's first starting 3rd baseman, died on Monday.  He was 81 years old. 

Dick Gray began his Baseball career as an 18-year old kid out of Jefferson, Pennsylvania.  For the first 3 years he rose up the Brooklyn Dodgers farm system until he entered military service during the Korean War.  Upon returning in 1955, he rejoined the franchise and started to show some pop in his bat.  In 1956, Gray belted 24 home runs for the Fort Worth Cats - the Dodgers AA club.  Then in 1958, the Dodgers first year in Los Angeles, he earned the starting 3rd baseman job to start the season.

It was while in Los Angeles that he forever chiseled his name into the Dodgers record books.

On a Wednesday evening on April 16th, Dick Gray hit the very first home run in LA Dodgers history.  It was against the San Francisco Giants at Seals Stadium.  He was a huge contributor in that early season victory as he went 3 for 6 with 3 RBI's and 2 runs scored.  The Dodgers walloped the Giants 13 to 1.

To further solidify his Dodger legacy, Dick Gray also hit the very first Dodger home run at the Dodgers home field in the Coliseum.  On April 18th he cranked out his 2nd homer of the season in the 7th inning of a very close game.  It was the last run the Dodgers would score that afternoon, and would eventually be the winning run as the Dodgers squeaked by with a 6 to 5 victory.

Unfortunately, his stay in Dodger Blue would be short lived.  In the middle of the 1959 season he would be traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for Chuck Essegian and Lloyd Merrit.

When he retired from Baseball he went on to live in Anaheim and joined the Buena Park School District.  He retired from there in 1993.  As far as I know, his last public appearance was in April of 2012 at the Frank & Son's show.

RIP, Dick Gray.
Above are some vintage pics of Dick Gray in LA Dodger Blue, via Baseball Birthdays.

Below are his career stats, via Baseball Reference:

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