Friday, November 03, 2006

Glory Days with the Dodgers by John Roseboro

Except from
"Glory Days with the Dodgers"
by John Roseboro with Bill Libby
Chapter 3, page 34:
We got to see the Indians play at Municipal Stadium once or twice a year. That was in the late 1940s when they had Bob Lemon, Bob Feller, Mike Garcia, and Early Winn, but they usually lost the pennant to the Yankees. They had one of the first black big leaguers, Larry Doby, a great player and a hero of mine. And they gave
Satchel Page a chance to pitch in the big leagues even though he was long past his prime. That gave me a chance to see the greatest of the black pitchers, maybe the greatest of all pitchers, period. They had a white catcher, Jim Hegan, who was a hero of mine. He did things smooth, effortlessly. He was a real pro and when I became a catcher I copied him, remembering him.

They also had a black outfielder named Harry “Suitcase” Simpson. I will always remember him because he stole a foul ball from me. It’s always a kid’s dream to catch a foul ball at a big-league ball game. One time during practice I was standing near the right-field foul pole, watching, when a ball came right to me. Just as I went to catch it, a big glove jumped in front of my face and took it away from me. It turned out Simpson had stolen it. Usually a big-league ballplayer lets a ked catch a foul ball when it’s hit into the stands in practice. Sometimes they even threw you one they caught near the stands. But Simpson just threw this ball back to the infield, and it steamed me.

Years later, barnstorming with the big leaguers, I landed in Mexico with Simpson and I chewed his ass out. I told him he wouldn’t remember me but I remembered him because he wouldn’t let me have the big-league baseball that I came closest to catching when I was a kid. He laughed and we became friends, but I never really forgave him.

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