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Height of today' ballplayers vs. Brooklyn Dodgers

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  • Height of today' ballplayers vs. Brooklyn Dodgers

    This week's issue of New York Magazine reports that at the Jackie Robinson Foundation's celebration of Jackie Robinson's birthday, Ralph Branca was asked whether baseball players are "just too big these days?" His reply:
    "When I played, you had to work in the wintertime to put food on the table. We lived on hay, oats, and water, like horses. These players may be bigger, but they don't run any faster and they don't throw any harder. They only hit the ball farther because the bats are better, the ball is souped up, and the parks are smaller."

    Of course Ralph was bigger (taller) than most players of his day, so perhaps he missed the essence of the question. There are not too many players today who are below 5 ft 10 in. as many of our favorites were when the Bums played in Brooklyn. Think of Reese, Zimmer, Stanky, Bordagary, Bridges, Fernandez, Gilliam, Fitzsimmons, Casey, Franks, Gionfriddo, Hamric,Brown, Cox, Campanis, Hassett, Haugstadt, Hoak, Hermanski, Herman, Holmes, Lasorda, McDevitt, Mauch, Mauro, Morgan, Olmo, Owen, Palica, Pfund, Podres, Reiser, Teed, Van Cuyk, R. Walker, Amoros, Higbe, to name but a few.

    There were some tall ones, tall enough to field a basketball team that played exhibition games for publicity against other commercial (business) teams at the old Brooklyn Paramount. The starting five were Hodges, Branca, Miksis, Newcombe and Barney. I once asked Ralph why Robinson was not playing on that exhibition team as he was an outstanding basketball player in college and a great all-round athlete. Ralph said that during those early years (1949 - 1952), though Jackie would have been great, he was making too much money traveling to various places in the off-season when those exhibition games were played.

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