In 1954, when the Sporting News polled reporters about the players they interviewed, Karl Erskine stood out. Among his fellow Brooklyn Dodgers, Erskine has been named with several attributes, including “Best Marriage,” “Best Parent,” “Most Intelligent,” and “Most Conversational.”
At 96, Erskine has outlived all of his teammates on the 1954 team. But when I visited his home in Anderson, Indiana, last month, he still displayed the same traits that writers mentioned nearly 70 years ago. He and his wife Betty have been married for 75 years. Jimmy, the youngest of four children, was born with Down syndrome in 1961, and Carl was inducted into the Hall of Fame this year and received the Buck O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award for his work with the Special Olympics and other organizations.
Erskine no longer travels and will be represented by family and friends at a ceremony in Cooperstown, N.Y. on Saturday, but he remains an intelligent conversationalist and his insight will be appreciated when I visit. It goes far beyond the column I wrote. Here are some of those bits of knowledge.
Come to Stan Musical
“He almost never missed his swing. He was always hitting the ball somewhere. Sometimes it was a line shot, sometimes it was a loop shot. But he was always in touch.” “He had no outpitch at all. He just hit the ball somewhere. But he didn’t have very good contact with out-of-speed pitches.” He added that he had. “Later I told him, ‘Stan, it was a lot easier to play with you than it was with you.'”
“Aaron was an interesting hitter because he didn’t hit a lot of home runs in the early days. He hit these line drives, he was just a bullet. The baseball term is a clothesline. But in the end he – I don’t know what changed – he started throwing balls in the air, and when he did, he kicked them out of the field.”
Face off against Willie Mays
“Mayes hit the upper deck foul ball, and I always avoided it, so I finally learned to throw Mayes inside. He was a pure hitter.There are only a handful of guys like that in baseball.They broke all the rules about standing and holding.But they were the best hitters in the league. is.”
Game changes from 1949 to 1959
“Diamonds became more consistently and professionally done. There weren’t a lot of bad hops, that was one thing. Gloves gave us a lot more protection, but they started making them out of kangaroo skin, a very lightweight leather, so that changed the way big gloves weren’t too heavy. It was a big defensive change in NBA.It’s just part of the evolution of the game.”
Transfer from Ebbets Field to Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
“The Coliseum was like a National League polo ground, with each line very short and deep in the outfield. It was one of those coincidences that happened.”
About modern games
“It’s an interesting question because all the changes have actually come more from around baseball than baseball. The game itself and the basics are pretty much the same. It’s still going to get the ball to the other side of the field or all of that, so when I think about baseball, I think less about how it’s changed and more about how it hasn’t changed.”
about his bright prospects
“Norman Vincent Peale, do you know that name?” He was a minister. His identity is the comment “Positive Thinking”. He always stressed it. There are many ways to think about it, but the best way to look at life positively is to be positive and see the positive in it. So I was shocked by that, and I believe so. That’s what he recognizes. In fact, he wrote a book called The Power of Positive Thinking, which is a powerful book. It keeps you focused on a positive life. Instead of always looking at the worst part of the experience, there is always something to choose from that brings another upside. i like that and i think he is right. ”