Tuesday, July 14, 2015


The 50 Greatest Dodger Games of All Time


J. P. Hoornstra



There was a knock on our door last fall, just after we had settled in. It is a long and exhausting journey to Fort Myers from Wellington, and it takes me some to adjust. I opened the door to my good friend Mike Richey. He handed me a baseball. It had been signed by Carl Erskine. Mike hails from Pendleton, Indiana, which is a stone’s throw from Anderson. Erskine resides in Anderson.



Erskine grew up in Anderson, attended high school, and still lives there. He will be 89 in December. Erskine played for the Dodgers, first in Brooklyn, then in Los Angeles. He was fortunate to play for the Dodgers at a time when they established themselves as the best team in baseball. They won the World Series in 1955, the first time in franchise history.



He played for the Dodgers from 1948 to 1959, and retired because of injury. He entered the business world, and later became president of the Star Bank of Anderson. His philanthropic work in the state of Indiana is extensive. He donated land to the Anderson Community School System. The Erskine Elementary School was built on the site.



The exploits of the Dodgers from that era are well recorded in Roger Kahn’s great book, “The Boys of Summer”. Another book on Dodger baseball has recently hit the shelves: “The Fifty Greatest Dodgers Games”. It was written by J. P. Hoornstra who is the ultimate authority on Dodger baseball. He reports on the team for the Los Angeles News Group. I am certain that he bleeds “Dodger Blue”.



For many years, beginning in the early 50s, I was a New York Yankee fan. It was not difficult because they were in the hunt every year. They had the most glamorous players, and they were, in fact, the closest franchise to the main cities in Canada. My visit to Yankee Stadium in 1954 to see the Yankees and the Cleveland Indians sealed the deal for me.



The fifty chapters in the book tell the tales of the fifty games that Hoornstra has selected. In the countdown from 50, chapter 11 refers to Manager Charlie Dressen’s time with Erskine. “Oisk” was the name attached to Erskine. It is a derivative of his last name in “Brooklynese”. In 1952, Oisk had just pitched the fifth game of the World Series, all eleven innings. After the game, he fielded questions from the media, while shaving. He had a date that evening. It was his fifth wedding anniversary.



The Dodgers jumped out to a 4-0 lead in that game on an RBI single from Andy Pafko, a sacrifice fly from Pee Wee Reese, and a two run homer off the bat of Duke Snider. The Yankees came storming back and took the lead. Erskine was sure that he was going to get the hook at that stage; however, in his trip to the mound, Dressen asked Erskine what his plans were for that evening. He retired the next nineteen Yankee batters, with none reaching first base. He was supported by great fielding, particularly by Pafko and Carl Furillo. Yankee manager Casey Stengel remarked, “I never saw two better catches anywhere”. Unfortunately, the Dodgers lost the next two games, and the Series.


The chapters are not in any chronological order. Each one is a fine read all on its own. Little fragments of baseball history.


As is the case with these reviews, this book will be on the shelves of the Wellington Library in a week. A must read for any Dodger fan.



James Hurst

July 14, 2015



Good job..Thanks. It's really helpful :)
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