Carl Furillo

Carl Anthony Furillo (March 8, 1922 – January 21, 1989), nicknamed "The Reading Rifle" and "Skoonj", was an American professional baseball right fielder who played in Major League Baseball (MLB), spending his entire career with the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers. A member of seven National League (NL) champions from 1947 to 1959 inclusive, Furillo batted over .300 five times, winning the 1953 batting title, with a .344 average — then the highest by a right-handed hitting Dodger since 1900. Noted for his strong and accurate throwing arm, he recorded 10 or more assists in nine consecutive seasons, leading the league twice, and retired with the fifth-most games in right field (1,408) in NL history.

Carl Furillo
Carl Furillo 1953
Furillo, circa 1953.
Outfielder
Born: March 8, 1922
Stony Creek Mills, Pennsylvania
Died: January 21, 1989 (aged 66)
Stony Creek Mills, Pennsylvania
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 16, 1946, for the Brooklyn Dodgers
Last MLB appearance
May 7, 1960, for the Los Angeles Dodgers
MLB statistics
Batting average.299
Home runs192
Runs batted in1,058
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Early years, minor league baseball

Furillo was born in Stony Creek Mills, Pennsylvania. He left school in the eighth grade, and often felt awkward among his teammates as a result; they would later recall that he rarely socialized with players who were better-educated. He signed with the Reading, Pennsylvania, team in the Interstate League, earning one of his nicknames with his powerful arm; the Dodgers were sufficiently impressed by his ability that they purchased the entire minor league franchise to acquire him. His other nickname, "Skoonj", came from the Italian word scungilli ("snail"), which was his favorite dish.

Major league career

Arriving in the major leagues in 1946, he batted .295 for the 1947 NL pennant winners, finishing the year ninth in the league with 88 runs batted in. He was one of the key members on the Dodgers' 1949 champions, hitting .322 (4th in the NL) with 18 home runs, and placing among the league's top ten players in RBI (106), slugging average (.506), hits (177), runs (95), triples (10) and total bases (278); he finished sixth in the voting for the MVP Award. In 1950 he batted .305 (7th in the league) with 18 home runs, 106 RBI, and a career-high 99 runs. He achieved a personal best with 197 hits, finishing third in the NL for the second year in a row, for the 1951 team which lost a legendary pennant playoff to the New York Giants; he also batted .295 (9th in the NL) with 91 RBI and 93 runs. In that year he set a team record with 667 at bats, exceeding Ivy Olson's 1921 total of 652; Maury Wills broke his mark with 695 in 1962.

He became skilled at negotiating balls hit off the high right-field wall at Ebbets Field, and after he led the NL in assists in both 1950 (18) and 1951 (24), opposing runners were increasingly reluctant to challenge his arm. On August 27, 1951, he threw out Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Mel Queen by two feet at first base after Queen had apparently singled into right field. Furillo batted only .247 for the 1952 pennant winners, though he was selected to his first All-Star team. Diagnosed with cataracts, he had surgery in the offseason and returned with perhaps his best season, winning the batting title and collecting 21 home runs and 92 RBI with a career-best 38 doubles (3rd in the NL). His .344 average was the highest by a right-handed Dodgers hitter since Oyster Burns hit .354 in 1894; Tommy Davis would better him with a .346 mark in 1962. He was again named an All-Star, ending the year fifth in the league in slugging (.580), and finished ninth in the MVP balloting.

Furillo's season ended on September 6 against the Giants – he was batting against Rubén Gómez in the second inning, and opposing manager Leo Durocher was yelling for Gomez to "stick it in his ear"; Furillo was hit on the wrist by a pitch, and proceeded to first base, but with a 3–2 count on the next batter, Durocher and Furillo charged towards each other. Furillo got Durocher in a headlock, and in the ensuing brawl, Monte Irvin of the Giants stepped on Furillo's hand, fracturing a knuckle on his little finger.[1]

For the 1955 champions he was seventh in the league with a .314 average, along with 95 RBI and a career high of 26 homers. With the 1956 team which repeated as NL champions, earning the team's seventh pennant in ten years, he slipped to a .289 average but maintained solid power totals with 21 homers, 83 RBI and 30 doubles. He hit .306 in the Dodgers' last season in Brooklyn in 1957, and batted .290 in their first year in Los Angeles, finishing eighth in the league with 83 RBI. With the 1959 pennant team, his playing time was reduced to only 50 games, with just 25 of them in the outfield. But he had one last highlight in the playoff series against the Milwaukee Braves when he beat out a ground ball in the 12th inning of the second and final game, with Gil Hodges scoring from second base to win the NL flag.

Release and controversy

The Dodgers released Furillo in May 1960 while he was injured with a torn calf muscle; he sued the team, claiming they released him to avoid both the higher pension due a 15-year player and medical expenses, eventually collecting $21,000. He would later maintain that he was blackballed as a result and was unable to find a job within the sport – a charge denied by Commissioner Ford Frick.

World Series exploits

Furillo played in seven World Series with the Dodgers, six of them against the New York Yankees, winning in 1955 and in 1959 against the Chicago White Sox. He had an excellent 1947 World Series, batting .353 in a seven-game loss; he had two RBI and scored a run in a 9–8 Game 3 victory, and scored the run which gave Brooklyn the lead for good in an 8–6 win in Game 6. He preserved a 6–5 victory in Game 5 of the 1952 World Series when he made a spectacular catch over the fence of an apparent home run by Johnny Mize – who had already homered three times in the Series – with one out in the eleventh inning. In the 1953 World Series he hit .333, and drove in the tying run in the seventh inning of Game 1, though Brooklyn went on to lose; in the final Game 6, his 2-run homer with one out in the ninth tied the game 3–3, but New York scored in the bottom of the inning to win the game and the Series. In the victorious 1955 Series he started the scoring with a solo home run in his first at bat of Game 1, which New York won 6–5. In Game 7 he advanced Roy Campanella to third base on a groundout in the fourth inning, with Campanella later scoring, and was walked intentionally with one out and runners on second and third in the sixth, with another run following on a sacrifice fly by Hodges. The two runs held up for a 2–0 victory, and Brooklyn earned the only World Series title in franchise history. In the 1959 Series he was limited to four pinch-hitting appearances and his 2-run single in the seventh inning of Game 3 broke a scoreless tie. Los Angeles held on for a 3–1 win.

Statistical summary

In his 15-year career, Furillo batted .299 with 192 home runs, 1910 hits, 1058 RBI, 895 runs, 324 doubles, 56 triples, 48 stolen bases, a .458 slugging average and 514 walks for a .355 on-base percentage. As an outfielder, he had 3322 putouts, 151 assists, 34 double plays and 74 errors for 3547 total chances and a .979 fielding percentage. If he had one more hit in his career, he would have statistically had a .300 batting average.

After baseball

After retiring as a player, Furillo left the sport for good. While writing his 1972 book The Boys of Summer about the 1952 and 1953 pennant-winning teams, author Roger Kahn located Furillo installing elevators at the World Trade Center. During the mid-1960s, he owned and operated a deli in Flushing, Queens. Furillo later worked as a night watchman; he developed leukemia, and died in Stony Creek Mills, Pennsylvania at 66 years of age of an apparent heart attack. Although Furillo felt that baseball completely forgot about him and his accomplishments, his funeral was attended by many of his Dodger teammates, including hall-of-famers Sandy Koufax and Duke Snider. He is interred at Forest Hills Memorial Park in Reiffton, Pennsylvania.

In a 1976 Esquire magazine article, sportswriter Harry Stein published an "All Time All-Star Argument Starter", consisting of five ethnic baseball teams. Furillo was the right fielder on Stein's Italian team.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Can Rivals' Hatred Become Teammates' Amity? It's Happened". The New York Times. 17 February 2013. Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  • Baseball: The Biographical Encyclopedia (2000). Kingston, New York: Total/Sports Illustrated. ISBN 1-892129-34-5.

External links

1946 Brooklyn Dodgers season

The 1946 Brooklyn Dodgers finished the season tied for first place with the St. Louis Cardinals. The two teams played in the first ever playoff series to decide the pennant, and the Cardinals took two straight to win the title.

With their star players back from the war, Brooklyn had jumped back into serious contention. They would be respectable until their move to Los Angeles 10 years later.

This season was the team's – and Major League Baseball's – last non-integrated one.

1947 World Series

The 1947 World Series matched the New York Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Yankees won the Series in seven games for their first title since 1943, and their eleventh World Series championship in team history. Yankees manager Bucky Harris won the Series for the first time since managing the Washington Senators to their only title in 1924.

In 1947, Jackie Robinson, a Brooklyn Dodger, desegregated major league baseball. For the first time in World Series history, a racially integrated team played.

1948 Brooklyn Dodgers season

Leo Durocher returned as manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers to start the 1948 season but was fired in mid-season. He was replaced first by team coach Ray Blades and then by Burt Shotton, who had managed the team to the 1947 pennant. The Dodgers finished third in the National League after this tumultuous season.

The 1948 Dodgers were very much a work in progress, beginning to coalesce into the classic "Boys of Summer" teams of the 1950s. Gil Hodges was in the opening day lineup, but as a catcher. He would only be shifted to first base after the emergence of Roy Campanella. Jackie Robinson started the season at second base—Eddie Stanky had been traded just before the start of the season to make room for Robinson at his natural position; he had played first base during his 1947 rookie season. Pee Wee Reese was the only "Boys of summer" regular to already be ensconced at his position, shortstop. Billy Cox had been acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates during the offseason, but as one of nine players who would see time at third for the team that year, he only played 70 games at the position. Carl Furillo was already a regular, but in center field. Duke Snider was brought up to the team in mid-season, and it was not until 1949 that Furillo moved to right field and Snider became the regular center fielder.

Preacher Roe and Ralph Branca were in the starting rotation, but Carl Erskine only appeared in a handful of games, and Don Newcombe would not join the staff until the following year.

1949 Brooklyn Dodgers season

The 1949 Brooklyn Dodgers held off the St. Louis Cardinals to win the National League title by one game. The Dodgers lost the World Series to the New York Yankees in five games.

1950 Brooklyn Dodgers season

The 1950 Brooklyn Dodgers struggled for much of the season, but still wound up pushing the Philadelphia Phillies to the last day of the season before falling two games short. Following the season, Branch Rickey was replaced as majority owner/team president by Walter O'Malley, who promptly fired manager Burt Shotton and replaced him with Chuck Dressen. Buzzie Bavasi was also hired as the team's first independent General Manager.

Vin Scully joined the Dodgers' radio and television crew as a play-by-play announcer in 1950; in 2016, Scully entered his 67th consecutive season with the club, the longest such tenure in the history of sports broadcasting, that season was the first wherein his voice, as well as of Red Barber's, was broadcast on television station WOR-TV, making the Dodgers the last New York City MLB team to introduce regular television broadcasts, 11 years following the first broadcasts of 1939.

1951 Brooklyn Dodgers season

The 1951 Brooklyn Dodgers led the National League for much of the season, holding a 13-game lead as late as August. However, a late season swoon and a hot streak by the New York Giants led to a classic three-game playoff series. Bobby Thomson's dramatic ninth-inning home run off Dodger reliever Ralph Branca in the final game won the pennant for the Giants and was immortalized as the Shot Heard 'Round the World.

1952 Brooklyn Dodgers season

The 1952 Brooklyn Dodgers rebounded from the heartbreaking ending of 1951 to win the National League pennant by four games over the New York Giants. However, they dropped the World Series in seven games to the New York Yankees. Led by Gil Hodges, Jackie Robinson, and Duke Snider, the high-powered Brooklyn offense scored the most runs in the majors.

1953 Brooklyn Dodgers season

The 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers repeated as National League champions by posting a 105–49 record, as of 2017, it is the best winning percentage in team history. However, the Dodgers again failed to win the World Series, losing in six games to the New York Yankees.

1953 World Series

The 1953 World Series matched the 4-time defending champions New York Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers in a rematch of the 1952 Series, and the 4th such matchup between the two teams in the past seven seasons. The Yankees won in 6 games for their 5th consecutive title—a mark which has not been equalled—and their 16th overall. Billy Martin recorded his 12th hit of the Series scoring Hank Bauer in Game 6.

1954 Brooklyn Dodgers season

The 1954 Brooklyn Dodgers season was the first season for new manager Walter Alston, who replaced Chuck Dressen, who had been fired during a contract dispute. Alston led the team to a 92–62 record, finishing five games behind the league champion New York Giants.

In addition to Alston, the 1954 Dodgers had two other future Hall of Fame managers on their roster in pitcher Tommy Lasorda and outfielder Dick Williams. First baseman Gil Hodges and reserve infielder Don Zimmer would also go on to successful managerial careers.

1955 Brooklyn Dodgers season

In 1955, the Brooklyn Dodgers finally fulfilled the promise of many previous Dodger teams. Although the club had won several pennants in the past, and had won as many as 105 games in 1953, it had never won a World Series. This team finished 13.5 games ahead in the National League pennant race, leading the league in both runs scored and fewest runs allowed. In the 1955 World Series, they finally beat their crosstown rivals, the New York Yankees. It was the Dodgers first and only World Series championship won while located in Brooklyn.

1955 World Series

The 1955 World Series matched the Brooklyn Dodgers against the New York Yankees, with the Dodgers winning the Series in seven games to capture their first championship in franchise history. It would be the only Series the Dodgers won while based in Brooklyn, as the team relocated to Los Angeles after the 1957 season. This was the fifth time in nine years that the Yankees and the Dodgers met in the World Series, with the Yankees having won in 1947, 1949, 1952, and 1953; the Yankees would also win in the 1956 rematch.

This Series also marked the end of a long period of invulnerability for the Yankees in World Series. It was the Yankees' first loss in a World Series since 1942 and only their second since 1926. While the Yankees were 15–2 in Series appearances during that time, they would lose again in 1957, 1960, 1963, and 1964, for a record of 4–5 in World Series over the next decade.

1956 Brooklyn Dodgers season

The 1956 Brooklyn Dodgers edged out the Milwaukee Braves to win the National League title. The Dodgers again faced the New York Yankees in the World Series. This time they lost the series in seven games, one of which was a perfect game by the Yankees' Don Larsen.

1957 Brooklyn Dodgers season

The 1957 Brooklyn Dodgers season was overshadowed by Walter O'Malley's threat to move the Dodgers out of Brooklyn if the city did not build him a new stadium in that borough. When the best the mayor could promise was a stadium in Queens, O'Malley made good on his threats and moved the team to Los Angeles after the season ended. The Dodgers final game at Ebbets Field was on September 24 as they finished their 68th and last NL season, and their 75th overall, in Brooklyn in third place with an 84–70 record, eleven games behind the NL and World Series Champion Milwaukee Braves.

1958 Los Angeles Dodgers season

The Los Angeles Dodgers took the field before 78,672 fans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on April 18, 1958, to usher in the beginning of the team's new life in Los Angeles. It was a rough season, as the Dodgers finished 21 games in back of the pennant-winning Milwaukee Braves in the National League standings, but it was the beginning of the second phase for the team. Vin Scully and company moved to KTTV (television) and KMPC (radio) from that year onward, and the Dodgers became one of the first teams that commenced Spanish language radio broadcasts for Latinos, with KWKW as the first station to offer a Spanish-language service.

Bill Bevens

Floyd Clifford "Bill" Bevens (October 21, 1916 – October 26, 1991) was a right-handed Major League Baseball pitcher. He stood 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) and weighed 210 lb (95 kg). He signed with the New York Yankees at 20 in 1937, and spent seven seasons in their minor league system, throwing two no-hitters for the Wenatchee Chiefs before finally making his major league debut with the Yankees on May 12, 1944 at the age of 27.

In his third minor league season, he pitched his first no-hitter on September 21, 1939, against the Tacoma Tigers, winning 8-0 with the only opposing baserunner reaching on an error, giving his Wenatchee Chiefs their first playoff win after losing the first three games of the series to Tacoma.He pitched four years for the Yanks when they finally brought him up to the majors, amassing a career record of 40–36 with a 3.08 ERA. His best year was 1946, when he went 16–13 and 2.23. Although in the regular 1947 season, his last year in the majors, he won only seven and lost 13, in the World Series that year he held the Brooklyn Dodgers to one hit in 8 2/3 innings in one of the most memorable games in baseball history (see "The Cookie Game").

For 8​2⁄3 innings in Game 4 of the 1947 World Series Bevens had held the Dodgers hitless despite giving up a Series record ten walks. The Yankees were nursing a 2–1 lead. With one out to go for the first no-hitter in Series history, he walked right fielder Carl Furillo and then (intentionally) pinch-hitter Pete Reiser. Dodger manager Burt Shotton sent in Al Gionfriddo to pinch-run for Furillo and Eddie Miksis for the injury-slowed Reiser, and aging Cookie Lavagetto to pinch-hit for leadoff man Eddie Stanky. With two outs and two on in the bottom of the ninth, Lavagetto swung and missed for strike one but then on Bevens' second (and last) pitch lined a double off the right field wall scoring both runners and winning the game for the Dodgers 3-2 with their only hit.What became known as "the Cookie game" was played on October 3, 1947 and evened the Series at 2–2. On October 6, Bevens returned to the mound for 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief in the deciding Game 7, winning the world championship for the Yanks. It was the last major league game for the thirty-year-old Bevens.

"I do not use anything odd or unorthodox. I have a sinker, but it is a natural delivery. Fast ball, curve, change, and change in speeds. That is my repertoire." – Bill Bevens in Baseball Magazine (June 1947, Daniel M. Daniel)

He eventually landed another major league job with the Cincinnati Reds in 1952, but was sold to the Triple-A Pacific Coast League San Francisco Seals before he could see any action for the Reds.

Bevens died of lymphoma on October 26, 1991, five days after his 75th birthday.

List of Los Angeles Dodgers seasons

The Los Angeles Dodgers are the second most successful franchise in the National League and the third-most successful and second-most wealthy in Major League Baseball after the New York Yankees. The franchise was formerly based in Brooklyn and known originally as the "Grays" or "Trolley Dodgers" after the trams which supporters had to avoid to enter games. Later it became known successively as the "Bridegrooms", "Superbas", "Dodgers" and "Robins"; the present "Dodgers" was firmly established in 1932.

The franchise has won the World Series six times and lost a further 13, and like the Yankees and Cardinals have never lost 100 games in a season since World War I, with their worst record since then being in 1992 with 63 wins and their best records ever being in 1953 with 105 wins and both 1942 and 2017 with 104. Their most successful period, between 1947 and 1966 with ten World Series appearances and only two seasons with 71 or more losses (one of them the year they moved to Los Angeles after a dispute over stadium funding), was famous for the Dodgers becoming the first Major League Baseball team to incorporate African American players, led by Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella.

Stony Creek Mills, Pennsylvania

Stony Creek Mills is a census-designated place in Lower Alsace and Exeter Townships in Berks County, Pennsylvania. It is located about 5 miles east of the city of Reading. As of the 2010 census, the population was 1,045 residents.

The Boys of Summer (book)

The Boys of Summer is a 1972 non-fiction baseball book by Roger Kahn. After recounting his childhood in Brooklyn and his life as a young reporter on the New York Herald Tribune, the author relates some history of the Brooklyn Dodgers up to their victory in the 1955 World Series. He then tracks the lives of the players (Clem Labine, George Shuba, Carl Erskine, Andy Pafko, Joe Black, Preacher Roe, Pee Wee Reese, Carl Furillo, Gil Hodges, Roy Campanella, Duke Snider, Jackie Robinson and Billy Cox) over the subsequent years as they aged. The title of the book is taken from a Dylan Thomas poem that describes "the boys of summer in their ruin".

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