Once, twice, three times gets it done

Had Dolph Camilli made the major leagues earlier than 1933, when he was 26, this piece might be about a Hall of Fame player, or at least someone with a close case for Cooperstown. As it is, Camilli was a very good ballplayer for 12 years for the Cubs, Phillies and Dodgers. It was with the Dodgers for whom this first baseman, who predates Gil Hodges, starred. He had lofty on-base percentages and slugging percentages and drove in 100 runs with Brooklyn four times in a five-year span.

Camilli was the NL MVP in 1941, hitting 34 home runs and driving in 120 runs for a team that won the pennant. You could make the case he won the MVP award all in one amazing game.

It was September 1, 1941, the first game of a doubleheader with the Boston Braves. The Dodgers and Braves played 15 innings, which was the subject of complaining in the newspapers the next day, because the second game was halted due to darkness, forcing the Dodgers, who were just out of first place, to make the game up.

The Braves led 4-0 after two innings helped by two Dodgers errors, hence the grumbling. The Dodgers got three runs back in the fourth inning, but did nothing more until the eighth. That’s when Camilli turned the game into his highlight reel. With two outs, he clubbed a 450-foot home run to center field to tie the game.

The Braves, managed by Casey Stengel at the time, went back ahead in the 10th inning on Hall-of-Famer Paul Waner’s RBI hit. Two of the first three Dodgers to bat in the home 10th went down, with Billy Herman drawing a walk. That brought up Camilli. This time he doubled off the Ebbets Field scoreboard, scoring Herman to tie the game again.

Camilli walked in the 12th, but was left stranded. He singled in the 14th, but Pee Wee Reese lined out with the bases loaded to keep the game tied.

Finally in the 15th, a walk, single and hit by pitch loaded the bases bringing the right man to the plate, Camilli. His single, his fifth hit of the game won the for the Dodgers. In all, Camilli had two tying hits in the eighth inning or later, a walk and a hit to try to extend extra-inning rallies, and the winning hit. Pretty cool stuff.

That started a heck of a close to the season for Camilli. He hit .316 with a 1.024 OPS and 26 RBI in 27 games. The Dodgers won the pennant by 2 ½ games and Camilli was a very worthy MVP choice.

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