Thursday, April 13, 2017

Ed Stevens Story about Losing the 1st Base Job to Jackie Robinson

As we all know, Jackie Robinson broke the color-barrier in 1947 as a first baseman. What we don't know much about is what happened to the guy that had the position before him -- Ed Stevens. Well, thanks to the current Jackie Robinson Foundation Auction we get a glimpse at what was in Ed's head. Featured above is a typewritten letter, dated to 1995, from former Dodger first baseman Ed Stevens, and in it he expresses a bit of antipathy. Not towards Jackie, but toward Branch Rickey. (auction link)

He writes:
I was replaced in 1947 by Jackie Robinson on the Dodgers. My story's never been told on that. I sacrificed my career to make room for Jackie Robinson. I had the ballclub made. I was gonna be the regular first baseman and, 'course they had Howie Schultz over there, the basketball player, and we'd been doin' some alternating. I hit against right-handers, he hit against left-handers.
This is the platoon the Brooklyn Dodgers likely would have had that season. Stevens continues:
Mr. Rickey told me if I'd go back to Montreal and make room for Jackie Robinson and have myself a good year, that he would shake my hand in a gentleman's agreement that he would bring me back as soon as I got to hittin' good and got myself in shape - to give him a chance to get rid of Eddie Stanky, move Jackie Robinson to second base and I had a job for the next 10, 15 years, as long as my ability would allow me.

1946 Questionnaire Filled Out by Don Newcombe at Jackie Robinson Auction

Among the throngs of Jackie Robinson memorabilia available at Goldin's current auction are collectibles featuring other notable leaders and athletes. In the Jackie Robinson Foundation auction you can find items related to tennis great Arthur Ashe, Alex Haley (writer of Roots), President Lyndon Johnson, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Abraham Lincoln, Harper Lee (writer of To Kill a Mockingbird), basketball great Bill Russell and Muhammad Ali. Additionally, there is the questionnaire you see on the right that had been filled out by Dodger great Don Newcombe in 1949 -- his rookie season. (auction link)

As you know, Newk played an important role in the Civil Rights Movement. Per Lyle Spencer at
It was 28 days before Dr. King's assassination in 1968, and he was in the midst of peaceful protest speeches, marches and demonstrations. On his way home to Atlanta, with an evening to relax, Dr. King visited Newcombe and let him know what he, Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby and Roy Campanella had meant to the civil rights struggle.

Blog Kiosk: 4/13/2017 - Dodgers Links - Just Another Dodger Victory

So many good things happened for the Dodgers last night. To start things off, Andrew Toles belted a line-drive home run to right field (with the wind blowing in, mind you) to start the game and to give the Dodgers an immediate 1-0 lead. Per John Jackson at
"He threw it low and I hit it on a line, so the wind was no factor because it was so low," Toles said. "It was a line drive. The wind was definitely a factor [overall], though."
That early head start was buoyed by another fantastic start by oft-injured Brandon McCarthy. He is clearly back. Per Rowan Kavner at Dodger Insider:
“He did a really good job tonight, kept them off-balance, kept attacking them,” Grandal said. “He’s got a great sinker, obviously, it’s known around the league.”
McCarthy threw six scoreless innings, with three walks, four strike outs and just four singles. Lastly, the Dodgers relief staff continued their dominance. Ross Stripling, Luis Avilan and Kenley Jansen shut things down to earn a Dodgers victory, 2-0. BTW, let's not forget about Chase Utley's smarts. He came around to score on an error in the eight inning that was only made possible due to his hustle. The old man continues to show what he brings to the table -- intelligence, leadership and guile.

The above photo via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2017. Go here to check out more pics by Jon from yesterday game in Chicago. Below are more links to check out:
  • This Day in Dodgers History: In 1939 Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig, during a spring game against the Dodgers, hit two homers. It would prove to be the last home runs he would ever hit. In 1954 Walter Alston makes his major league debut as the Dodgers manager. In 2009 second baseman Orlando Hudson hit for the "Cycle" against the Giants during the Dodgers home opener. He is the first Dodger to ever accomplish the feat at Dodger Stadium, and the first Dodger to do it in a nine-inning game since Gil Hodges in 1949. In 2012 Dodger starter Aaron Harang struck out nine consecutive Padre batters -- breaking the Dodgers franchise record of eight held by Johnny Podres. The Major League mark is at ten, and is held by Mets pitcher Tom Seaver in 1970.
  • Happy Birthday, Kid Elberfeld, Ben Cantwell & Ed Amelung!