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Jim Furtado
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Editor - Baseball Primer


Willie Mays Newsbeat

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Revisiting the Volatile Season of ‘65

For the next six days, much of Los Angeles was set ablaze and looted in a paroxysm of protest against racism and police brutality. Liquor stores and pawnshops were ransacked, 200 buildings were burned to the ground, and snipers on rooftops took aim at the firefighters who came to help. One young Dodgers fan, then-10-year-old Ozzie Smith, later recounted the harrowing experience to The New York Times.

“We had to stay in the house for a week, maybe two weeks,” Smith said. “My dad would go down to the store for food and come right home. You could hear gunshots all the time.”


Ten miles away at Dodger Stadium, as Maury Wills and company faced the Pirates, management offered rain checks to ticket holders who didn’t feel safe enough to attend. Players, too, were worried.

“I had to drive through that area to get to the ballpark,” Johnson told the Los Angeles Daily News. “People were shooting. There were snipers on the freeway. I wore my uniform because that was my identification. I thought if people saw that I was a Dodger, I wouldn’t get killed.”


“I really don’t think Juan should have been playing at all,” said Willie Mays. “He was pretty strung out, full of fear and anger, and holding it inside.”

Marichal was typically genial and devoted to his Bible studies. But the Juan Marichal who woke up on Aug. 22 to face the Dodgers was not the same man who carried a picture of St. Martin, the peacemaker, in his pocket.

“Juan wanted to fight,” teammate Matty Alou said. “He had the devil inside him that day.”

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

How the Pirates stole Roberto Clemente from the Dodgers

Holy cow, Clemente next to Willie Mays in the outfield?

The Dodgers signed Clemente 15 months after Campanis first saw him. By then, the Giants, Braves, Red Sox and Cardinals had also expressed interest, according to David Maraniss’ biography “Clemente.” The Braves were serious bidders, reportedly offering the largest bonus ($25,000 to $35,000). But Maraniss writes that Clemente wanted to play in New York, where he had friends and relatives in the growing Puerto Rican community there. From Maraniss’ book:

That left the Giants and Dodgers. Any signing over $6,000 would designate Clemente as a bonus player, meaning a team would have to protect him on the major league roster or face losing him in a supplemental draft after his first year in the minors. The Giants, apparently concluding that Clemente needed at least a year of seasoning, kept their offer below the bonus line. Their scout, Tom Sheehan, hoped that Clemente would sign for a $4,000 bonus and begin in Class-A ball in Sioux City, Iowa.

It wasn’t enough. The Dodgers signed Clemente for a $10,000 bonus and a first-year salary of $5,000. Maraniss writes that the Dodgers had motives beyond just Clemente’s talent: They simply wanted to keep him away from the Giants, where he would team with Willie Mays in the outfield. The Dodgers knew he needed some time in the minors, as well. Dodgers general manager Buzzie Bavasi would later say, “It was a cheap deal for us any way you figure it.” Indeed, as Maraniss notes, another reason it was cheap is that white bonus babies were receiving bonus payments six times higher on average than black and Latin players.



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