Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Boys of Summer

Earlier today, on the The Tony Kornheiser Show, ESPN's Tim Kurkjian mentioned that Duke Snider is sick, and that ESPN had him write an obit the other day -- one he hopes they don't have to use anytime soon.

A lot of news organizations keep pre-packaged obituaries for certain people around, just so that they'll have them ready to go when needed. There's an old newspaper term for this, but I can't for the life of me remember what it is, though I feel like it's two words, the second of which is "list." As standard practice, the names on the list and the obits themselves are kept secret, simply as a matter of good taste. Sometimes, they're leaked. While it might seem insensitive, you can hardly fault news organizations for wanting to have something ready, just in case. As David Foster Wallace might have said, when they actually run it, they're "just being orderly."

This all got me thinking about just who's left from the original Boys of Summer -- the '55 Dodgers team that brought Brooklyn its only World Series championship.

Duke Snider - The Duke of Flatbush is the last starter left from the '55 squad.

Don Zimmer - Zim, then a 24-year-old utility infielder, put up a .731 OPS in 88 games in 1955.
George Shuba - A reserve outfielder who spent his entire seven-year career with Brooklyn. He played 44 games in the 1955 season, his last in the majors.

Bob Borkowski - A utility outfielder, Borkowski appeared in only nine games with the Dodgers after being acquired as the player to be named in a deal with the Reds for pitcher Joe Black. He saw no major league action after July 10th. Ever. Technically, he still gets a ring.

Don Newcombe - The ace of the Dodgers' staff. He went 20-5 that year, posting a 1.113 WHIP and a ridiculous 38 walks in 233.6 innings -- that's 1.5 walks per nine. Newcombe was an all-star that year, and won the Cy Young and MVP awards with a spectacular 1956 season.

Carl Erskine - Oisk was serviceable in '55, posting a 1.28 WHIP in just under 200 innings.

Ed Roebuck - The 23-year-old rookie hurled 84 innings for the Dodgers in '55, and pitched to eight batters in a single, two-inning appearance during the World Series.

Roger Craig - The future Padres and Giants manager saw 90.6 innings of work as a 25-year-old rookie in '55.

Sandy Koufax - The 19-year-old phenom went 2-2 in 41.6 innings over 12 appearances. While the stuff was there, the control wasn't. He struck out 30 and walked 28. Koufax did not pitch in the post-season that year.

Tommy Lasorda - If you'd told a Dodgers fan in 1955 that this guy would one day be one of the franchise's great figures, you'd have been tarred, feathered and thrown into a large body of water. In 1955, the second of his three big-league seasons, Lasorda pitched 4 innings in 4 games -- including one start. His ERA was a Mike Williams-esque 13.50. Not surprisingly, he didn't make the post-season roster, and was the recipient of the Dodgers' Not Invited Back award -- they sold him to the Kansas City Athletics during spring training the following year.

This has been fun. Maybe next up, we'll do the 1960 Pirates.

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