was born on Sept. 19, 1926 in Los Angeles, CA, which was
a good place to be born for a guy who played just about
his whole career with the Dodgers. My playing days started
in Brooklyn in '47, then out to Los Angeles in '58, the
Yankees in '63, and the Giants in '64.
When I first started out in the majors, Branch Rickey tried
to cure me of my biggest flaw, that being "ignoring the
strike zone." With an umpire standing behind the plate,
coach George Sisler made me stand at the plate with the
bat on my shoulder. After the ball was thrown, the ump would
call it a ball or a strike, and then Sisler would ask me
what I thought it was. I wasn't allowed to swing.
At first my opinion and the umps were far apart, but after
awhile, I learned not to lunge for pitches that weren't
strikes. Even still, six times I struck out over 90 times
for a year.
Playing all of my Hall of Fame Career in the Outfield,
I was proud of the strength of my arm. One day, while talking
about how far I could throw a ball, my teammates put me
to the test. While the groundskeepers were tending to Ebbets
Field, I stood at home plate and threw the ball as far as
I could. The first throw struck the scoreboard in
right-center field. The second throw cleared the right field
fence (40 feet high and 350 feet from home).
Besides my arm, I also had a booming bat. I hit 40
or more Hr's from '53 to '57, and ended up with a total
of 407. My lifetime avg was .295, and my slugging
percentage was .540.