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Question 9 - Who Was I?

The Silver FoxI 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.

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