Monday, March 30, 2020
Copyrighted by Sarah Morris, 2020
During his Major League career all with the Dodgers, both in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, Harold “Pee Wee” Reese was the Dodger captain while playing superior defensive shortstop.
From Louisville, Kentucky, Reese’s acceptance of Jackie Roosevelt Robinson, the first African American player to perform in the Major Leagues, helped to have the rest of the team and the League come grips of having an African American player.
When Robinson arrived, Reese already was an established elite shortstop. He led the National League in assists and fielding percentage. Four times he led the League in putouts. Twice he led in double plays. Although Robinson played first base on April 15, 1947, when he debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers, soon, he was moved to second base, where Reese and Robinson made one of the best double play combinations in history.
Reese was a good hitter, not much power. In 1947, he led the National League walks, and in 1952, he led in stolen bases.
Ten times, Reese played for the National League All-Star team. Although he never won an MVP, eight times Reese finished in the top ten in the voting. He helped the Brooklyn Dodgers seven pennants and one world championship in 1955.
According to Reese’s teammates, Reese never got too high too low. Maintaining an even keel is a crucial skill but the hardest ability to develop for any baseball player. Reese was a quiet classy leader. One day in Cincinnati during the 1947 season, Robinson had received a death threat, and the rowdy crowd was screaming nasty racist slurs, worse than normal. During infield practice, Reese simply walked over to Robinson and put his arm around Robinson. While having a conversation with Robinson, the crowd quieted and began to accept Robinson.
In 1950, the Dodgers named Reese was their captain. The Dodgers don’t usually have captains. Their last captain was Davey Lopes. If the Dodgers had a captain nowadays, it would be Justin Turner.
In 1984, Reese became a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. On the Dodger Ring of Honor, Reese’s #1 is represented. His #1 was for Reese was the number 1 in the hearts of the Brooklyn Dodgers’ fans.