The Team That Forever Changed Baseball and America: The 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers

By Lyle Spatz; Maurice Bouchard et al. | Go to book overview
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Chapter 21. Hank Behrman

Rob Edelman

Hank Behrman was a minor contributor to the golden age of baseball in Brooklyn. His career was all promise and little delivery. Yet the five-footeleven, 174-pound right-hander did have one sterling season for the Dodgers. In 1946, his rookie campaign, he appeared in forty-seven games and posted an 11–5 record with a sparkling 2.93 ERA. A year later his cumulative ERA for the Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates jumped to 6.25, and by 1950 he was out of the Majors for good, at the age of twenty-nine.

Henry Bernard Behrman was born in Brooklyn on June 27, 1921. By the time he reached high school, his family had moved to Maspeth, in the borough of Queens. The Dodgers signed Behrman after he attended a tryout at Ebbets Field in 1940. The youngster spent the 1941 campaign playing for the Valdosta Trojans in the Class D GeorgiaFlorida League. His 18–10 record and 3.11 ERA earned him a promotion to the Durham (North Carolina) Bulls in the Class B Piedmont League for 1942. On July 25 he tossed a no-hitter for the Bulls at Asheville, and completed the season with a 1411 record and a 2.92 ERA.

At the close of the 1942 campaign, Behrman entered the army. After basic training, he was assigned to the 326th Glider Infantry Regiment. He spent the bulk of his time in the service at the Alliance Army Air Base in Nebraska, where he pitched for the base team. In February 1945, the 326th arrived in France. With the end of the war in Europe in May, Behrman was selected to play for the Thirteenth Airborne Division Black Cats, who compiled a 33–4 record. The 326th returned to the United States in August and, on January 30, 1946, Behrman was mustered out of the military. The Dodgers assigned him to the Montreal Royals, their top farm club.

Hank Behrman was traded to Pittsburgh in May and
returned to the Dodgers in June.

Despite his status as a raw rookie, Behrman proclaimed that he would rather quit baseball than spend the 1946 season in the Minors. During spring training, the twenty-four-year-old hurler impressed the Dodgers’ brass with his rubber arm and his money pitch, a lively fastball that zoomed upward or sank as it neared home plate. On April

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