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

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

Chapter 15. Clyde Sukeforth

James L. Ray

Clyde Sukeforth was a backup catcher who played parts of ten seasons in the Major Leagues for the Cincinnati Reds and Brooklyn Dodgers. Over those ten seasons, Sukeforth hit .264 with only 2 home runs and had 96 runs batted in. Although his accomplishments as a player were minimal, Sukeforth’s subsequent years as a Minor League scout and big league coach led him to play key roles in three momentous baseball events: the discovery of Jackie Robinson, the signing of Roberto Clemente, and the decision to send in Ralph Branca to pitch to Bobby Thomson, a decision that led to Thomson’s 1951 “Shot Heard ‘Round the World.”

Clyde Leroy Sukeforth was born on November 30, 1901, in Washington, Maine, a tiny rural town. His father was Pearle Leroy Sukeforth, who as a young man was a cooper but who later became a dairy farmer. Clyde’s mother was Sarah M. Grinnell, known as Sadie. Pearle and Sarah were married in May 1899 and had their first child, a daughter named Hazel, in November 1899.

The Sukeforths received out-of-town news only from the Boston Post, which was delivered by stagecoach every evening to the local library. From the time he was a young boy, Clyde journeyed to that library to read about his favorite baseball players. Most of those players were members of the Boston Red Sox, who just happened to be the best team in baseball during Clyde’s adolescent years.

But Sukeforth did not just read about the game; he played it whenever he got the chance in the brief summers of southern Maine. “Every kid played baseball in my day. That’s all there really was to do. There was no organization to it, but we played seven days a week. And every kid had a ball and a glove,” Sukeforth said in a 1991 interview.

Clyde Sukeforth managed the Dodgers to victories in the
first two games of the season.

In 1916 Sukeforth enrolled in the Coburn Classical Institute, a college preparatory high school in nearby Waterville. By the end of World War I, Maine had become one of the leading paper-manufacturing states in the nation. Massive sawmills, pulp mills, and paper plants popped up around the state, creating jobs and giving rise to a number of company-sponsored baseball teams. After graduating from high school, Sukeforth played two

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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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