The old Brooklyn and current Los Angeles Dodgers have featured some colorful characters. While the team is off to a sensational start in 2012, I always like to look back at some of more colorful characters to ever wear a Dodgers uniform.
Branch RickeyBranch Rickey was general manager from 1943 through 1950. His building of the team after World War II made the Dodgers serious title contenders. His most controversial (and brave) move in 1947 was to break baseball's color barrier. He made Jackie Robinson the first African-American to play in the Major Leagues. Rickey also helped created baseball's farm system in the 1920s.
Floyd "Babe" HermanBatting .393 in 1930, Herman still holds the Dodgers record for the highest season average (1930). However, Babe as a right fielder was famous for dropping fly balls, including several that hit his head. He also sometimes became confused when on base, because he daydreamed or stopped to watch others hit. Once, he doubled into a double-play when he and two other players ended up together on third base.
Edwin "Duke" SniderHe was the Duke of Flatbush, for where Brooklyn's Ebbets Field was located. Many of his home runs in the 1950s flew into busy Bedford Avenue, and kids blocked traffic hoping to get a prized Snider ball. This Hall of Famer hit 40 or more homers five consecutive seasons and led all batters in homers and RBIs during the 1950s.
Duke was always frank about his vocation. After being booed by the home town fans, he commented that they "didn't deserve a pennant." Then he declared he was only in baseball for the money and would rather be in California on his avocado farm than playing in Brooklyn.
Charles "Casey" StengelCasey played outfield for the Dodgers and the Braves, but is best known for his later career as a team manager. As a player, Stengel once showed his fun side when trotting in from the outfield. He'd caught a bird, and when he doffed his hat to the fans, the bird flew out. The "old perfessor", as he was called as manager, was often quoted for outlandish sayings. One was, "There comes a time in every man's life, and I've had plenty of them." Also my favorite, "Managing is getting paid for home runs someone else hits."
Leo DurocherHe was "Leo the Lip", because of his fiery temper and arguments with umpires. As a shortstop, he played for the Dodgers and Yankees, before managing the Dodgers starting in 1939. He led the Dodgers to a pennant in 1941, their first in 21 years, but they lost the World Series to the Yankees. After gambling rumors and a highly publicized affair with a married Hollywood actress, his actions and association with gamblers did not go un-noticed by the league. MLB commissioner A. B. Chandler suspended Durocher for the entire 1947 baseball season for "the accumulation of unpleasant incidents" that were "detrimental to baseball." He made his most controversial move when he left the Dodgers in 1948 to manage their cross-town rivals, the Giants.
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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