Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Look Back at Former Brooklyn Dodger Ivy Olson

I was recently cruising around eBay to do some online window shopping when I came across a vintage 1930 press photo from the AP of former Brooklyn Dodger infielder turned coach Ivy Olson.  Check it out above, or check out the eBay auction here.  Since we are in the midst of a Dodger winter and it's likely most of you know nothing about Ivy, I figured I would take a moment to introduce you to him.  Heck, I can't claim to know much about him either, so this post also helps me know a little more about this former Dodger fave.

A childhood friend of Casey Stengel, Ivy Olson was average sized, average skilled and a larger than life ballplayer who both endeared himself to fans and was the cause of great consternation.  He played Baseball during a time called the 'Deadball Era' - when men treated the game (to borrow a phrase from Ty Cobb) like it's something like a war. 

(eBay Auction Link)
Ivy was hard-charging, hard-playing and took no prisoners on the field.  You would often see him in the middle of a scuffle with fist being thrown to and fro, sliding into second base with his spikes coming in high or screaming expletives like a drunken sailor out on leave.  His heart and hustle was obvious, and Brooklyn fans, seeing a little bit of themselves in the man, were immediately smitten.  Of course, this was Brooklyn, so that love often turned to jeers.  After all, Ivy Olson was just an average ballplayer with a propensity for errors at the most inopportune times.

For instance, during the 1916 World Series against the Boston Red Sox Ivy Olson placed himself in the Baseball record books for the wrong reason.  In the third inning of Game 5 (the final game of the series) Olson made two fielding errors on a single fielding chance; thereby being the first of only two players to have ever done that during a World Series game.  Hilariously, the other man to do it was also a Dodger - Willie Davis in Game 2 of the 1966 World Series.

Oy Vie!  A play like that would cause twitter to blow up in todays world.

Ivy Olson played ten season in Brooklyn; from 1915 to 1924.  He was a key component of two pennant winning Dodger teams (1916 and 1920) and currently holds the Dodger franchise single season record for at-bats per strikeout (55.1 in 1922) and is the Dodgers all-time at-bats per strikeout leader (26.8).  In 4,212 Brooklyn at-bats he struck out only 157 times.  Wow!

If you are looking for a strange tale about Ivy Olson check out the SABR biography by Brian Stevens
It is said that Olson carried a rulebook in the back pocket of his uniform in each of his 1,574 games. During an umpire's oration, he would take out the book and riffle the pages with a flourish. But he would often get the thumb before he could reach the appropriate reference to the rule in question.
You should definitely check out Brian Stevens phenomenal biography on Olson to learn even more about him.  Also, in preparing this post I ran into several other Ivy Olson press photographs on eBay and have included them here for you to see.  Links to those auctions are attached to the pics caption. 
(eBay Auction Link)

Below are Ivy Olson's career statistics, via Baseball Reference:

* Please follow on twitter @ernestreyes *
* Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...