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

By Lyle Spatz; Maurice Bouchard et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 64. Dick Whitman

Ted D. Smith

Dick Whitman’s life was described by his brotherin-law Bob Read as “the kind of story that maybe America was built on.” A member of “The Greatest Generation” that survived the Great Depression and fought totalitarianism in World War II, he forged a professional baseball career that began in 1942 and ended in 1957. While the war delayed Whitman’s big league debut, he eventually played as an outfielder for three pennant-winning teams in his six years as a Major Leaguer. His most notable contribution came as a member of the 1950 Philadelphia Phillies, for whom he served as a pinch hitter and substitute outfielder during the team’s pennant drive.

Dick Corwin Whitman was born on November 9, 1920, in Woodburn, Oregon, thirty miles south of Portland. His parents were Clyde Eli Whitman and the former Nancy Margaret Hicks. The couple also had a daughter, Virginia, born in 1928. Clyde was in the Oregon National Guard and saw action at the Mexican border in 1916, and he served in France in World War I.

Dick’s baseball abilities were apparent early. After starring for his local high school team, he played alongside fellow future Major Leaguers Johnny Pesky and Joe Erautt in 1938 and 1939 for the Silverton Red Sox, a local semipro team. The Silverton team was highly successful, winning the Northwest regional tournament and competing in the National Baseball Congress semipro championship tournament in Wichita in both those years. The 1939 team went 34–2, finishing third nationally. Pesky, Erautt, and Whitman all made the 1939 national semipro All-Star team.

Dick Whitman was a semi-regular in 1946, but he appeared
in only four games in 1947.

Upon graduation from high school in 1938, Whitman enrolled at the University of Oregon, where he was an active member of the Sigma Nu fraternity and played on fraternity teams in a number of intramural sports. On the baseball field, he was a standout center fielder for the Ducks’ varsity team from 1940 through 1942, batting .397 for his college career, a mark that still stands as the school record. The team won the Northern Division of the Pacific-8 conference in his junior and

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Table of Contents v
  • Foreword ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Chapter 1- How the 1947 Team Was Built 1
  • Chapter 2- Spring Training in Havana 3
  • Chapter 3- Jackie Robinson 6
  • Chapter 4- Branch Rickey 15
  • Chapter 5- Leo Durocher 22
  • Chapter 6- Kirby Higbe 28
  • Chapter 7- Bobby Bragan 32
  • Chapter 8- Dixie Walker 36
  • Chapter 9- Carl Furillo 44
  • Chapter 10- The Suspension of Leo Durocher 50
  • Chapter 11- Branch Rickey and the Mainstream Press 57
  • Chapter 12- Timeline, April 15-April 30 62
  • Chapter 13- Ebbets Field, 1947 64
  • Chapter 14- Jackie Robinson’s First Game 67
  • Chapter 15- Clyde Sukeforth 69
  • Chapter 16- Burt Shotton 73
  • Chapter 17- Ray Blades 80
  • Chapter 18- Spider Jorgensen 84
  • Chapter 19- Hal Gregg 87
  • Chapter 20- Timeline, May L-May 20 92
  • Chapter 21- Hank Behrman 95
  • Chapter 22- Rube Melton 99
  • Chapter 23- Jackie Robinson and the Jews 103
  • Chapter 24- Timeline, May 21-June 15 105
  • Chapter 25- Gene Hermanski 109
  • Chapter 26- Hugh Casey 113
  • Chapter 27- Rex Barney 119
  • Chapter 28- Tommy Brown 124
  • Chapter 29- Harry Taylor 129
  • Chapter 30- Timeline, June 16-June 29 132
  • Chapter 31- Ed Chandler 134
  • Chapter 32- Marv Rackley 137
  • Chapter 33- Gil Hodges 140
  • Chapter 34- George Dockins 146
  • Chapter 35- Eddie Stanky 150
  • Chapter 36- Timeline, June 30-July 14 157
  • Chapter 37- Arky Vaughan 159
  • Chapter 38- Duke Snider 164
  • Chapter 39- Ralph Branca 172
  • Chapter 40- Clyde King 176
  • Chapter 41- Jake Pitler 181
  • Chapter 42- Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1947 All-Star Game 185
  • Chapter 43- Timeline, July 15—July 31 186
  • Chapter 44- Pee Wee Reese 189
  • Chapter 45- Bruce Edwards 197
  • Chapter 46- The Protested Game of July 20, 1947 201
  • Chapter 47- Joe Hatten 203
  • Chapter 48- Timeline, August 1-August 17 207
  • Chapter 49- Howie Schultz 210
  • Chapter 50- Pete Reiser 215
  • Chapter 51- Tommy Tatum 223
  • Chapter 52- Timeline, August 18-August 31 226
  • Chapter 53- Eddie Miksis 228
  • Chapter 54- Stan Rojek 232
  • Chapter 55- Dan Bankhead 235
  • Chapter 56- Timeline, September L-September 19 239
  • Chapter 57- Phil Haugstad 242
  • Chapter 58- Don Lund 246
  • Chapter 59- Vic Lombardi 250
  • Chapter 60- Jack Banta 254
  • Chapter 61- Johnny Van Cuyk 257
  • Chapter 62- Timeline, September 20-September 28 261
  • Chapter 63- Willie Ramsdell 263
  • Chapter 64- Dick Whitman 267
  • Chapter 65- Ervpalica 271
  • Chapter 66- Ed Stevens 276
  • Chapter 67- Walter O’Malley 279
  • Chapter 68- John L. Smith 284
  • Chapter 69- Red Barber 287
  • Chapter 70- Connie Desmond 294
  • Chapter 71- Advertising and the Dodgers in 1947 298
  • Chapter 72- The 1947 World Series 305
  • Chapter 73- Al Gionfriddo 312
  • Chapter 74- Cookie Lavagetto 316
  • Chapter 75- Al Gionfriddo’s Memorable Game Six Catch 320
  • Chapter 76- Lavagetto Ends Bill Bevens’s No-Hit Attempt 323
  • Chapter 77- Most Valuable Player Award 326
  • Chapter 78- Rookie of the Year Award 327
  • Chapter 79- Cy Young Award 328
  • Chapter 80- Dodgers Attendance in 1947 329
  • Chapter 81 - Ownership Issues in Brooklyn 333
  • Epilogue 337
  • Notes and References 339
  • Contributors 373
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