Tag Archives: Brooklyn Dodgers

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.

Did you see Jackie Robinson hit that walk-off?

Jackie Robinson’s most memorable moment in the 1955 baseball season was a steal of home against the Yankees in the World Series. It’s a famous play, one that Yankees catcher Yogi Berra disputed until his death, claiming that Robinson should have been called out.

I’ve got a play from 1955 that involves Jackie Robinson touching home plate that is pretty cool, and there’s no disputing it.

It comes from a regular season game with the Cardinals on June 6. The Dodgers had already made the race for the NL pennant a runaway, winning 37 of their first 49 games. But it looked like on this day that the Cardinals had their number. They had a 4-1 lead through five innings and 28—year-old rookie standout Luis Arroyo on the mound.

Though the Cardinals were 20-26, Arroyo had been awesome, going 6-0 with a 1.56 ERA in his first eight appearances. This is the same Arroyo who was the closer on one of the greatest teams of all-time, the 1961 Yankees. But that was then and this is now.

The Dodgers rallied for two runs in the sixth, with Pee Wee Reese homering for one and an RBI ground out by Frank Kellert producing the other. Arroyo stuck it out and got through the seventh and eighth innings unscored upon to take a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the ninth.

In today’s game, Arroyo would have been long gone and a parade of relievers would have tried to finish the Dodgers off. In 1955, Harry Walker let Arroyo stay in the game, even after walking Gil Hodges to lead off the home ninth.

What’s funny here is that if Robinson had done what he intended to do, Arroyo might have escaped unscathed. But Robinson’s two bunt attempts both went foul. The third try was a normal swing and turned out to be the charm – Robinson hit a game-winning home run to left center field.

It marked the third time in two seasons that Robinson beat the Cardinals with a walk-off hit, the second time he’d done it with a come-from-behind-walk-off home run. Difference being that this one is another chapter in the most memorable season in Brooklyn Dodgers history.

Robinson Minutiae

You would have thought that Robinson would have had a walk-off steal of home in his career, but he never did. The Dodgers didn’t have a walk-off steal of home in Robinson’s tenure. They did have one a year after he retired – Jim Gilliam had one against the Cardinals in 1957.

Robinson did a pretty good job tormenting the Cardinals, posting a .342 batting average against them, the highest for him against any team. Coincidentally, 1955 was his worst season against them. He hit .282.

The title of this blog post is a tribute to a song about Jackie Robinson called “Did you see Jackie Robinson hit that ball?”