A Fan’s Look at Dodgers Slugger Carl Furillo

I recently wrote an article about the ten greatest home run hitters of the Los Angeles Dodgers (Los Angeles Dodgers' Top Home Run Hitters). These were the players who hit the most homers, while wearing Dodger Blue. While most of the ten names on the list were easily recognizable, there was one I must admit I was not familiar with. Seventh on the list, with 192 home runs with the Dodgers, is rightfielder Carl Furillo.

Carl Furillo shown in a 1950s Bowman Gum baseball card.
Wikimedia Commons

Carl Furillo was a life-long Dodger who started with the team in Brooklyn, after serving in World War II. In his first year with the Brooklyn Dodgers, at age 24, Furillo had a .284 average with only three homers and 35 RBIs. He got hot in 1949, hitting 18 homers with 106 RBIs. He moved with the team from Brooklyn to Los Angeles and continued to average 17 homers per season over his entire career.

Furillo continued playing with the Dodgers until the end of his career, in 1960. After 15 years on the team, he had played in 1,806 games with 1,910 hits. He knocked in 192 home runs and had 1,058 RBIs with a .299 career average. Furillo played in the All Star games in 1952 and 1953 but was not elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. In 1953 he led the league with his .344 average.

He was always a strong batter for the Dodgers and hit over .300 for five seasons and knocked in 90 or more runs for the team six times. Furillo, who, like me, was from Pennsylvania, and was nicknamed "The Reading Rifle" for his great arm. (Reading is a city in Pennsylvania near his birthplace.)

Furillo is legendary to Dodgers fans from an incident that happened in 1953 against the then New York Giants, now the San Francisco Giants. Then, as now, the Giants were the Dodgers' arch-rivals and during a game between the teams, Furillo was hit by a pitch thrown by Giants pitcher Ruben Gomez. In reply, Furillo stormed the Giants' bench and charged their manager, baseball icon Leo Durocher.

When asked about the incident years later, according to the New York Times, Furillo said: "We hated the Giants. We just hated the uniform." Carl Furillo played in seven World Series' with the Dodgers and passed away in 1989.

His last interactions with the team were not positive, he was injured mid-way through his 15th season and wanted to finish the season to qualify for a higher pension. The team released him, he eventually sued the Dodgers for back pay and won, but then claimed he was blacklisted from working in the sport as a result.

Source: baseball-reference.com

Freddy Sherman grew up in Philadelphia, which didn't make being a Los Angeles Dodgers fan easy. He has lived in Los Angeles for twenty years, now able to follow the Dodgers openly and attends games frequently. You can follow him on Twitter -@thefredsherman.

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Updated Thursday, Mar 8, 2012