Whitey Ford was Casey Stengel's designated big game pitcher, though curiously he never pitched a crucial seventh game of the World Series, despite the fact that the Yanks played seven of them during his career.
A number of legendary goaltenders have roamed NHL ice over the years, but Terry Sawchuk is the only goalie to post a goals-against average of under 2.00 in five straight seasons. As a Detroit Red Wing, Sawchuk accomplished this from 1950-1955. Amazingly, the Hall-of-Famer did it in his first five seasons in the league.
A regulation basketball court is 94 feet in length. On November 13, 1967, Jerry Harkness of the Indiana Pacers made history. In an ABA game against the Dallas Chapparals, with one second left on the clock, he fired a desperation shot that set the record for the longest connection in pro basketball. The Pacers won the game on the 92-foot toss.
When the Ducks beat Ottawa on the road in Game Four even without the great Chris Pronger, it was over. I thought the Ducks would win the Cup, but in seven. Great team!
Story of the Week
Carl Furillo was a Brooklyn Dodger, one of the famed “Boys of Summer.” He was a tremendous player who was absolutely treated unfairly by Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley and major league baseball. Read on.
Carl Furillo had one of baseball's greatest throwing arms from the outfield. Because of this, one of his nicknames was "The Reading Rifle". Furillo played right field for the great Dodger teams of the late ‘40s and ‘50s, and was a member of seven pennant-winning squads. Five times Carl Furillo batted .300 or better, he won a batting title in 1953, and he knocked in over 100 runs twice, all while patrolling right field for more than 1,400 contests. Furillo was also involved in one of baseball's biggest brawls, with none other than Leo Durocher. But Carl and the Dodgers had a bitter parting, one that unfairly blackballed him from the game he loved.
Born in 1922 in Pennsylvania, Carl Furillo quit school in the eighth grade. Furillo started playing baseball for a living as an outfielder in the Eastern Shore League, receiving eighty dollars a month. He was signed by the Dodgers after he excelled with Reading of the Interstate League, where he got his nickname due to his great right arm and his superior throwing ability. He debuted with Brooklyn in 1946, hitting .284 in 335 at bats. The right-handed batting Furillo improved greatly the next season, knocking in 88 runs while batting .295. Injuries limited his play in 1948, but Carl had his best season in 1949 as he hit .322 with 18 home runs and 106 runs batted in. The Dodgers won the pennant, but he hit just .125 in the World Series as Brooklyn fell to the Yankees in five games.
Furillo put together his second and last 100 RBI campaign in 1950, although he had good run producing years as well in the coming seasons. In 1953, he was hitting at a .344 clip in early September and leading the National League in batting. In a game against the hated New York Giants, Carl was hit on the wrist by a pitch after Giants' skipper Leo Durocher yelled, "Stick one in his ear!" Furillo went to first, and while the next batter was being pitched to, Carl dashed into the Giants' dugout and began to throttle Durocher. In the ensuing struggle and chaos, Monte Irvin of the Giants stepped on Furillo's hand, breaking his little finger. Although Carl missed the rest of the year, he qualified for the NL batting title, winning it by two points over the Cardinals' Red Schoendienst. Carl made it back for the World Series, where he hit .333 in a losing cause.
The right field wall at Brooklyn's Ebbets Field was very high, and Furillo became adept at playing the quirky ricochets and caroms. His arm accounted for nine seasons of double-digit outfield assists, with a high of 24 in 1951. He once fielded a clean line drive hit by pitcher Mel Queen of the Pirates and threw him out at first base in the eighth inning to preserve a no-hitter that Ralph Branca was pitching; Ralph lost it in the ninth. Furillo made a circus catch of an apparent home run ball hit by Johnny Mize in the 1952 World Series to save a 6-5 Dodger win over the Yankees, but he did not play for a Series winner until 1955. In that Fall Classic, Carl homered in Game One and hit .296, as Brooklyn finally beat the Yankees.
Furillo moved with the Dodgers to Los Angeles in 1958, where he began to play less and less. His two-run pinch-hit single won Game Three in the 1959 World Series, which the Dodgers won in six games over the White Sox. But Furillo and the Dodgers parted on terrible terms when the club released him in 1960 after he tore a calf muscle. Carl was furious because if he had lasted the season he would have been in the league fifteen full seasons, qualifying him for a higher pension payment each month. When he sued the Dodgers, saying he had suffered a baseball related injury, he rightfully won and was awarded back pay, but no team would have anything to do with him as a coach or a scout. In January of 1962, Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley and baseball commissioner Ford Frick denied that Furillo had been blacklisted by the game's owners, but he never did hold a job in the sport again. Make no mistake; O'Malley and puppet Frick did blackball Carl from MLB.
Carl Furillo wound up with 1,068 runs batted in and a .299 career average in his 15 big league seasons. He passed away in 1989 at the age of 66 from an apparent heart attack after suffering from leukemia. Pee Wee Reese, one of Furillo's teammates in Brooklyn, remembered how Abe Stark’s Clothing Store had a sign on the right field wall at Ebbets Field. The sign on the base of the wall promised a free suit to any opposing player who hit it on the fly. Reese recalled that "nobody ever won a suit because Carl Furillo was in right field for the Dodgers.”
After retiring, Furillo left the sport as he had no choice. His eighth grade education didn’t offer him much of a future. While writing his landmark 1972 book “The Boys of Summer” about the 1955 championship Dodgers team, author Roger Kahn located Carl installing elevators at the World Trade Center. Furillo later worked as a night watchman and the manager of a deli. Not a fitting end for this absolutely marvelous player!
Last Week’s Trivia
A few years ago, Central State University saw fit to bestow this athlete with an honorary doctorate. In his acceptance speech, the jock stated, “I don’t know what kind of doctor this makes me, but as I look out on all the fine women in the audience, I hope it’s gynecologist.” Who spoke this classic if not classy acceptance? He was none other than Mike Tyson.
Trivia Question of the Week
The 1981 Yankees took a 2-0 lead over Milwaukee in the playoffs, but the Brewers bounced back to win two games, and force a series-deciding final game. George Steinbrenner stormed into the locker room after Game Four and screamed to his players that they’d damn well better win Game Five or else. Then one Yankee stood up in the locker room, looked straight at his boss and said, “Fxxx you, George!” Who was this player with the giant balls, and it’s not baseballs I’m talkin’ about? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.