Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dusty Rhodes, 1927-2009. R.I.P.

Former major leaguer James Lamar "Dusty" Rhodes died yesterday of complications from diabetes and emphysema. He was 82.

Rhodes played only seven seasons in the major leagues but his status is legendary amongst New York Giants fans (of which my Dad was one.) His best season was in 1954. In less than 200 at bats, Rhodes hit .341 with 15 home runs and 50 RBI for the New York Giants. But he is best remembered for what he did in the '54 World Series. The Giants were heavy underdogs against the Cleveland Indians who had a won a then major league record 111 games in the regular season.

But that meant nothing to Rhodes. In three games, Rhodes went 4 for 6 hitting 2 home runs with 7 RBI. One of those home runs was off future Hall of Famer Bob Lemon in the 10th inning to win Game 1 of the Series. Of course, that was the same game where Willie Mays made his famous over the shoulder catch in straight away center field off Vic Wertz. That is the enduring image of that World Series. However, it was Rhodes who was named World Series MVP as the Giants swept the Indians in four.

Four years later the Giants moved to San Francisco. Dad put a curse on them and they have not won a World Series since. Not that it stopped me from picking them to win it this year.

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