By Mike Lopresti
June 10, 2015 — For Signature Saturday on June 13, the Indians are having in a former pitcher, bank president, insurance company executive, author and coach.
Wait a second, that’s all one man. Carl Erskine, the Anderson, Ind. native best remembered for his pitching years with the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers, will be signing autographs at Victory Field Saturday. Gates open at 5 p.m. Click here for more information.
So here are 10 things to know about Carl Erskine.
- Five was the operative number the day he earned his first World Series win, 6-5 against the New York Yankees. It was Game 5 of the 1952 Series, played on Oct. 5. He won, despite giving up five runs in the fifth inning. He celebrated with wife Betty that night because it was their fifth wedding anniversary. They have now been married 67 years.
- He struck out 14 Yankees in Game 3 in 1953, a World Series record that would stand for 10 years.
- Erskine holds honorary doctorates from Anderson College and Marian. He coached baseball at Anderson and won four championships.
- Erskine batted .156 in his major league career. He hit one home run, in 1955.
- He was the only pitcher to throw two no-hitters in Brooklyn’s batter-friendly Ebbets Field.
- Erskine recently authored a book, The Parallel, drawing together two important men in his life, who both had to overcome adversity, ignorance and social stigma. One was teammate and friend Jackie Robinson, for breaking the color barrier in baseball. The other was his son Jimmy, born with Down syndrome.
- Erskine grew up not only with a flair for the curveball, but also music. He played a harmonica throughout his career for relaxation, though never in public. But in recent years he has played the national anthem on the harmonica for several sporting events, including before a Pacers playoff game.
- He scored one point and had four fouls for Anderson in the morning game of the 1944 state high school basketball finals at the State Fairgrounds Coliseum. The Indians lost to Kokomo 30-26.
- He started the Dodgers’ first game in Los Angeles, going eight-plus innings in a 6-5 win over the San Francisco Giants on April 18, 1958, before 78,672 fans in the Memorial Coliseum.
- He was in the Dodgers’ bullpen, getting ready for the ninth inning of the Brooklyn-New York Giants playoff game on Oct. 3, 1951. But when pitching coach Clyde Sukeforth noticed Erskine was bouncing his curve in the dirt, he alerted manager Chuck Dressen. So Ralph Branca instead was sent out to pitch against Bobby Thomson. You probably know the rest of the story.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________Mike Lopresti is a Ball State University graduate and Richmond, Ind. native and resident. He was a sports columnist for Gannett newspapers and USA Today for 31 years, and covered 30 World Series and 33 Major League Baseball All-Star Games. He is a voter for Baseball Hall of Fame. When he retired he was 16th in nation in seniority on Baseball Writers Association of America.