Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dusty Rhodes... Rest In Peace

I would argue that James Lamar "Dusty" Rhodes hit the most underrated home run in baseball history.

The 1954 World Series was supposed to be a cakewalk for the Cleveland Indians. They won 111 games, an AL Record, ended the Yankees 5 year reign as World Champs and took on a seemingly overmatched Giants team.

Now any baseball fan worth their weight in tobacco knows that Willie Mays made the amazing back to home plate catch off of Vic Wertz in Game 1.

But the game went into extra innings and without a Giants win, Mays catch would have been an interesting footnote. (See Endy Chavez)

With 1 out and 2 on in the bottom of the 10th, Durocher sent in Dusty Rhodes... a guy who couldn't play the field and seemed like a limited talent... but had a knack for the big hit off the bench.

He got it. Granted it travelled about half the distance as Vic Wertz's out... but it was enough to be the second Walk Off homer in World Series history. And he did it off of future Hall of Famer Bob Lemon.

The Giants won the opener. And then with the Giants trailing in Game 2, Rhodes came off the bench again and tied the game with a pinch hit single off of Early Wynn, another future Hall of Famer.

In Game 3, Rhodes once again came off of the bench and delivered. This time he singled home a run off of Mike Garcia (not a Hall of Famer, but he was an All Star and a 19 game winner in 1954, so he wasn't exactly a slouch.)

The Giants ran up a 7-0 lead in Game 4 and Rhodes wasn't needed off of the bench, but his final numbers were amazing.

He batted .667 with an OPS of 2.381. He finished the series 4-6 homering twice and driving in 7 runs all together without starting a game.

They didn't give out World Series MVPs in 1954, but no doubt he would have won it.

The Giants haven't won the World Series since 1954, but I know one fan who can recite that roster and the events of the World Series as if it were yesterday.

My dad loved and still loves the 1954 team... and with Rhodes' heroics they were not just footnotes!

If not for Rhodes then the Giants would be looking back at 1933 as their last title.

Rest in peace Dusty.
And don't let anyone up there tell you that was a cheap homer!

In honor of Dusty... watch this great World Series film for the '54 series!


  1. Sully,
    Great blog, great post. I agree about the homer being underrated. I'm a little younger than your dad, so circumstances being what they were, I became a Jints fan in 1955. Maybe if I am hypnotized I can recall the '54 Series. Your film link now makes that unnecessary. Many thanks.

  2. Adrian, Toronto7:17 PM

    Quite possibly the greatest single-World Series pinch hitting performance ever. I named my fantasy team after him two seasons ago.

  3. Excellent style to build a good blog, the video above was something impressed, specially the graphic design and the history telling about it. I will visit the blog to find betters entries in the next update.

  4. This man now rest in peace but it doesn't matter because all things this man did while he lived was incredible, I'd like that most of the players were like this incomparable player.