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  • Pete Reiser

    How come nobody ever talks about Pete Reiser anymore? Boy, his early stats are impressive. he must have had the whole package, speed/Avg./moderate power. Didn't he run into the wall and he was never the same? He sure would have solidified that outfield throughout the 50's. I would have plunked him in left of course, or maybe he was a better fielder than Duke,maybe Reiser in Center, Duke in left!
    sigpic

  • #2
    bad eyes after 1 too many crashes. I personally believe he was a 5 tool player (batting avg-some power-speed on bases-speed/range on defense-and a moderate throwing arm). Comparable to modern day Andrew Jones of Braves or a Shawn Green of LA minus a few HRs

    I bet he would have gotten some HoF ballot votes had he had a normal career without his bad eyes hurting him early in his career. h
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    Last edited by dreifort; 04-22-2005, 12:20 PM.
    Son, we'd like to keep you around this season but we're going to try and win a pennant.

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    • #3
      Dreifort, you seem to have a limitless number of Dodger photos. Where do you get them? Your website looks good by the way.
      sigpic

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      • #4
        as a kid collecting the normal baseball cards, I quickly realized modern baseball cards were mass printed and worthless - so I started collecting pre-1960 cards and memorbila. I have a small collection of physical photos, I also have friends who work at the local newspaper in my home town and they "hook" me up with nationwide archives....the rest I have found on the internet and collected on my computer.

        Reiser is one of my all-time favorite Dodgers.

        and I'm glad you enjoy my website....my way of showing my love for the hisotry of baseball and the Dodgers.
        Last edited by dreifort; 04-22-2005, 12:36 PM.
        Son, we'd like to keep you around this season but we're going to try and win a pennant.

        Comment


        • #5
          Shuba, you will enjoy this article about WC Heinz's thoughts on Pete.


          Pistol Pete Reiser, a man for all to admire

          Harold Patrick Reiser was born in 1919 in St. Louis, and by 1941 had become the National League's batting champ with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He's not in the Hall of Fame, but at least one of our country's most prominent sportswriters, W.C. Heinz, says Pete is his “all time guy,” a man who is “what professionalism is all about.” Heinz said, “A professional is someone who makes every play. There's no compromise.” For Reiser, there was no compromise. Carried off the field on a stretcher at least 11 times, given his last rites at least once while playing, concussions, dislocated shoulders, torn muscles, bruises, and scars were all a part of the Pistol's game. He ran a 9.8 second 100-yard dash, he sprinted down the first base line no matter what he hit, he flew into second base blocking out double plays, no matter what big lug was there, he was among the very best in his league in stolen bases, he dove for balls in the outfield, and he crashed into those outfield walls more times than anyone has dared count. As Pete might say, "I'm gonna catch that ball no matter what."

          July 30, 2004

          There are precious few things better to learn about in the course of a day than a real American professional. They're all over the place in our country, but it's not always that easy to find out about them, the real ones, that is.

          In paging through the September 2004 edition of American Heritage magazine, we ran across an article by Nathan Ward entitled, “A life in the loser's dressing room,” an interview with W.C. Heinz. Among other things, Heinz is a world-class sports writer and author with a special place in his heart for boxing. In the interview done by Ward, Heinz was asked this question:

          “Looking back broadly, are there any athletes or events you covered that remain particularly large in your mind down the years?”
          Heinz cited two men, Joe Louis and a baseball player named Pete Reiser. Just about everyone knows about Joe Louis. This editor did not know about Pete Reiser, so that lack of knowledge lit a fire.

          What Heinz said about Reiser is most noteworthy, and inspiring. This is what he said:

          “My all-time guy was a baseball player named Pete Reiser. When somebody risks his life the way he did, that to me is what professionalism is all about. Who knows how great Pete would have been if he hadn't wrecked himself running into all those outfield walls. But he was philosophical about it. He said, 'If I hadn't played that way, how good would I have been?' So running into outfield walls was part of playing. He never regretted for a moment that he'd hit those walls. I never found anyone else who had professionalism as strong as Reiser, never saw anyone who had that much promise and then destroyed it. A professional is someone who makes every play. There's no compromise. Lombardi used to lecture on that: 'There are approximately 150 different plays in a game that you have to make, and you have to be professional on every one of them.'”
          Harold Patrick Reiser was born in 1919 in St. Louis, Missouri, and he died in 1981 in Palm Springs, California. You might recall that Pete Maravich, a college and pro basketball star, was well known in the 70s and 80s as “Pistol Pete” Maravich. Well, Pete Reiser was the original “Pistol Pete.” He was an outfielder (also played third base) for the Brooklyn Dodgers (1940-1942, 1946-1948), and later the Boston Braves (1949-1950), Pittsburgh Pirates (1951) and Cleveland Indians (1952). He played in two World Series, one in 1941, his banner year, and the other in 1947. He batted lefty, threw righty.

          In 1941, Pistol Pete was the National League's batting champ with a .343 average, 117 runs (league leader), 39 doubles (league leader), and17 triples (league leader), and had a .553 slugging percentage (league leader). He played in a career-best 137 games that year, and his Dodgers won their first pennant in 21 seasons.

          Reiser was a “little guy” at 5'-10.5” and 185 lbs. But he was a fast son-uva-gun, clocking 9.8 seconds in the 100-yard dash in spikes and full uniform. In the gee-whiz category, John Owens was the first man recorded to run the 100-yard dash below 10 seconds, clocking 9-4/5 seconds on October 11, 1890. In 1930, Frank Wykoff, while a sophomore at USC, set a new world record for the 100-yard dash in 9.2-5 seconds, a record that would stand for 17 years. So the Pistol could run.

          Perhaps what stood out most about Reiser was his commitment to the game at all costs. In his day, he was known as the consummate hustler. As one writer put it, “He simply ignored outfield walls, constantly crashing into them.” Reiser was quoted saying:

          "I'm going to catch that ball; regardless of the outcome style of play.”
          He sprinted down the first base line no matter what he hit, broke up double plays sliding hard into opposing fielders, he dove for fly balls, and crashed into fences. He hit a wall in St. Louis, his hometown, suffered a concussion and separated shoulder. Red Smith counted 11 times that Reiser had to be carried off the field on a stretcher. In 1946, he separated his shoulder, broke his ankle, tore muscles and had to quit before season's end. But he came back in 1947, alongside Jackie Robinson, and these two finished 1-2 in steals for the year. Pete crashed into a wall that season as well, and could only play 110 games. He was hurt so badly after hitting the centerfield wall at Ebbets Field that he was actually given his last rites. In the 1947 World Series, he misplayed several balls due to vertigo. He was traded to the Braves after the 1948 season and again to the Pirates and Indians. His bruises, scars, and dizzy spells all forced him to quit the game in 1952.

          You'll be interested to know that Pistol Pete went into the Army during WWII, and served from 1943 through 1945. He first met Jackie Robinson at Fort Riley, Kansas.

          Pete Reiser played only four full seasons. These are his career stats: .295 BA in 861 games, scored 473 runs, .380 on base pct and stole 87 career bases. He is not a member of the Hall of Fame.

          When thinking about guys like Pete Reiser, it is worthwhile to return to one of his lead admirers, W.C. Heinz. In the interview mentioned previously with Nathan Ward, Heinz said this about what makes a professional:

          “My philosophy of professionalism is that if there is a leak in the basement and you are a plumber and you are called in the middle of the night, then you go there and handle that leak and weld that joint or whatever you have to do. And if you're soaking wet, then you go home and you clean your clothes, and you can sleep knowing that you did what you had to do. If everybody behaved this way, it would be a far better world.”
          Son, we'd like to keep you around this season but we're going to try and win a pennant.

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          • #6
            I saw him play in 1941 and 1942. In 1942 he was hitting 383 in late July when he hit a wall and that really ended what may have been a HOF career. I think at his best which was 1 and a half seasons he was the best all round player i ever saw, and that includes Willie Mays.He was still a good enough player to be walked intentionally putting the winning run on in the 1947 WS when Bill Bevens was pitching a no-hitter. And he had a broken ankle at the time. A little trivia the nickname Pistol, came from the fact Pete loved Western movies, and as a kid carried around toy pistols constantly. As for the 9.8 hundred take that with a grain of salt, Dave Sime an Olympic 100 Meter silver Medalist ran a 9.8 in a baseball uniform, and spikes,believed to be the fastest ever. Back to Pete had Leo Durocher not pressured him to play so soon after his concussion, maybe Pete would have fully recovered, we kids thought that in 1942 at the rate Pete was going he had a shot at hitting .400, unfortunately Pete is now a member of a list of players that might have been HOF, if only.............

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            • #7
              You have to wonder why it took so long for the Dodgers to finally pad the walls at Ebbets Field. Reiser was practically killed before they finally did it and by then his career was on the downside.
              Did anyone else have padded walls in those days or were the Dodgers the first?
              I know MacPhail developed the first helmet inserts (with help from John Hopkins doctors) after Ducky Medwick was almost killed after joining the Dodgers.
              I realize the macho image was strong back then but you think they would have tried to protect their players better.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Paulmcall
                You have to wonder why it took so long for the Dodgers to finally pad the walls at Ebbets Field. Reiser was practically killed before they finally did it and by then his career was on the downside.
                Did anyone else have padded walls in those days or were the Dodgers the first?
                I know MacPhail developed the first helmet inserts (with help from John Hopkins doctors) after Ducky Medwick was almost killed after joining the Dodgers.
                I realize the macho image was strong back then but you think they would have tried to protect their players better.
                I believe Brooklyn was the first, and it was mainly because of Reiser.

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                • #9
                  Ebbets Field was the first ballpark to install "padding" on the outfield walls (no warning track at that time), largely if not entirely because of Reiser's experience. It should be noted that he ran into (unpadded) walls in other ballparks as well; I don't have the particulars at hand, but someone out there may have details.

                  I wrote "padding" in quotation marks because the original installation was ludicrous in terms of the protection it afforded. Yes, it was better than nothing; anything would have been better than nothing, since the walls themselves were concrete. But if you ever left the ballpark via the center field gate and along the way examined that "padding" closely, you discovered, as I did, that the material had hardened - presumably dried out not long after having been put up - with very little "give" to it. Furthermore, there was air space between that material and the wall itself, except around the borders where it had been attached (nailed?), and the material, as a result of weathering, had curves, ridges and dips in it, rather than hanging straight down. In other words, it afforded very little protection - possibly because of the substances available at that time, possibly because the front office took the most economical means to still the outcry over the fate of poor Pistol Pete Reiser.
                  pb::

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                  • #10
                    I believe it was a rubber material and although rubber bounces, it doesn't cushion real well if you run into it full speed.

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                    • #11
                      On WFAN this afternoon, there was a discussion about how fans react when an opposing player makes a great player. The discussion revolved around the Mets.

                      During this time frame this afternoon while the discussion was going on, a Brooklyn Dodgers fan called up the show. He mentioned that when Pete Reiser was playing for the Boston Braves following his years with the Dodgers, the fans at Ebbets Field applauded Reiser after he hit a HR against the Dodgers. In essence, the caller's interpretation was the fans wanted to let Reiser know how much they appreciated his efforts as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers. This is another illustration of the Dodgers having an outstanding fan base.

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                      • #12
                        If you want to know what Pistol Pete looked like running the bases and playing the field, check out Arizona's Eric Byrnes.

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                        • #13
                          Of note, Pete lost three years to the war. Missing those years doesn't make him an HoFer, but he did lose the three years right after his injury.
                          Buck O'Neil: The Monarch of Baseball

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                          • #14
                            musial6 and KCGHOST, there's an article that ties into what you both mentioned. I'll provide the link but only post the parts of the article that pertain to Pete Reiser and Eric Byrnes.

                            As it turned out, Eric Byrnes is having his most productive seasons in Arizona.

                            There's no question that WWII prevented Pete Reiser from having the opportunity to have the type of seasons which would ranked him with the best players over the 6 year period from 1941 to 1946. I'm basing this on Reiser's performances the season's right before and after he served the United States. Assuming of course that Reiser would have stayed relatively healthy from 1943 to 1945, which was far from a given based on ultra aggressive style of play:

                            .................................................. .................................................. .................................................. ....................


                            http://boyofsummer.blogspot.com/2005_07_10_archive.html

                            And by extension, maybe he also knows what he's doing by trading OF Eric Byrnes and cash to the Rockies for LHP Joe Kennedy and RHP Jay Witasick. Byrnes is 29 and is in his sixth season in the majors, though he has only been a regular for the last few of them. He'll either be a free agent or at least elligible for arbitration at the end of the year, and therefore expensive in either case, a luxury the Oakland franchise cannot afford.

                            Beane has built his team by finding reasonably inexpensive talent through the draft and through minor league free agency, keeping players through the portions of their careers during which they're both good and cheap, and preferrinf to let someone else pay them the big bucks afterwards, even if they may be better once they leave Oakland. Terrence Long, Ramon Hernandez, Jason Giambi, Cory Lidle, Jason Isringhausen, the list is almost endless. But the proof is in the pudding as the A's have had six-straight winning seasons with the Moneyball formula, including four trips to the playoffs.

                            Another possible reason for trading Byrnes, though Oakland would never admit this, is the possibility that he'll get injured. ESPN's baseball analysts were handing out their defensive awards for the first half of the season last night (slow sports news day, you know) and Peter Gammons' pick was Eric Byrnes, whom he called "The Crash-Test Dummy" because he plays defense with such abandon, running and diving for balls, crashig into walls, teammates, moving automobiles, etc. just to make a catch. It's a great and creative nickname, something today's game tends to lack, but it's also a recipe for disaster.

                            Historically, one of the better known individuals with such tendency was Brooklyn Dodgers outfielder Pete Reiser, who had a reputation for crashing into walls and other non-malleable objects as well. Reiser's enthusiasm and acrobatics made him a fan favorite, like Byrnes, though he was a better player than Byrnes is. He finished second in the NL MVP voting in 1941, sixth in 1942 and 9th in 1946, even after he missed the '43-'45 seasons serving in the military. He had hit .306 while scoring 400 runs, driving in 298 and stealing 78 bases during the six years Brooklyn had him, but after being traded straight-up to the Boston Braves for a backup outfielder named Mike McCormick, Reiser never saw 260 plate appearances in a season again, and hit only .248, stealing only 9 bases over parts of four seasons with three different clubs throughout his career.

                            Not that Byrnes is necessarily doomed to the same fate. Theoretically, Byrnes should be helped offensively by Coors Field, as nearly every hitter is. He's got 20-homer, 20 steal potential in Oakland, a pitcher's park. The thin Colorado air should help to improve his strikeout-to-walk ratio and help to turn some of those doubles into home runs, making him more valuable in fantasy leagues, if not in an actual one. However, the large expanses in the Colorado outfield will mean that Byrnes will have even more area to cover, and potentially more chance to dislocate, oh say, a shoulder while diving for a batted ball and crashing into Cory Sullivan and/or a Volkswagen.

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                            • #15
                              hello all: here's a little known fact about pistol pete reiser: although the BB encyclopedia lists pete as a left-handed hitter, the pistol switch-hit in 1940, and then again from 1948-1952. regards, pete "pistol" trunk, NJ
                              you can take the Dodgers out of Brooklyn, but you can't take the Brooklyn out of the DODGERS
                              http://brooklyndodgermemories.freeforums.org/

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