Erskine circa 1953.
December 13, 1926 |
|July 25, 1948, for the Brooklyn Dodgers|
|Last MLB appearance|
|June 14, 1959, for the Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Earned run average||4.00|
|Career highlights and awards|
Carl Daniel Erskine (born December 13, 1926) is a former right-handed starting pitcher in Major League Baseball who played his entire career for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers from 1948 through 1959. He was a pitching mainstay on Dodger teams which won five National League pennants, peaking with a 1953 season in which he won 20 games and set a World Series record with 14 strikeouts in a single game. Erskine pitched two of the NL's seven no-hitters during the 1950s. Following his baseball career, he was active as a business executive and an author.
Known as "Ersk", or more accurately "Oisk", owing to the Brooklynese diction of the borough, Erskine signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1946, and after two minor league seasons he made the team in July 1948 as part of a powerful squad that included Roy Campanella, Carl Furillo, Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson and Duke Snider. Along with Snider and Reese, he lived in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bay Ridge, and was frequently to be found around the baseball diamonds on Shore Road, offering encouragement to youngsters.
He broke into the majors a year before Don Newcombe, and from 1948–50 was used primarily as a reliever, going 21-10. In 1951, he mixed 19 starts with 27 relief appearances, and went 16-12. For the following five seasons, he was right at the heart of Brooklyn's rotation, especially with his work in 1952-53, which was crucial for the NL pennant winners due to Newcombe serving in the army from 1952 until mid-1954. Erskine was 14-6 in 1952 with a career-best 2.70 earned run average, then had his 20-win season in 1953, leading the league with a .769 winning percentage along with 187 strikeouts and 16 complete games, all career highs. This was followed by 18-15 in 1954, posting career highs in starts (37) and innings (260-1/3), then by 11-8 in 1955 and 13-11 in 1956.
When Newcombe was pitching in the ninth inning of the third game of the playoff with the New York Giants on October 3, 1951, Erskine and Ralph Branca were warming up in the bullpen. On the recommendation of pitching coach Clude Sukeforth, who thought that Branca had better stuff, Newcombe was relieved by Branca, who then gave up the game-winning home run to Bobby Thomson. Whenever Erskine was asked what his best pitch was, he replied, "The curveball I bounced in the Polo Grounds bullpen in 1951."
Erskine, author of two no-hitters, (against the Chicago Cubs on June 19, 1952 and the New York Giants on May 12, 1956), was a member of the beloved Dodgers team which won the 1955 World Series for the franchise's first Series title. He appeared in eleven World Series games (1949–52–53-55-56), and made the NL All-Star team in 1954. His 14 strikeouts as the winner of Game 3 of the 1953 Fall Classic – including striking out the side in the ninth inning – broke the Series record of 13 held by Howard Ehmke (1929, Game 1), and stood for 10 years until Sandy Koufax struck out 15 New York Yankees in the first game of the 1963 World Series; but he was ineffective in Games 1 and 6, although he was not charged with the losses. From 1951 through 1956, Erskine won 92 games while losing only 58, which helped the Dodgers to four pennants during the "Boys of Summer" era.
Despite his two no-hitters,
Then in 1957, like so many of his Dodgers teammates, Erskine began his final decline. He moved to Los Angeles with the team the following year, but lasted only a season and a half. The long decline of his career had actually been set in motion during his rookie year when he injured his shoulder in his first major league start, yet not only finished the game but started twice more in extreme pain. So serious was the injury, in which he pulled a muscle away from his shoulder bone, that he was unable to throw between starts; by 1957, at only 31, he was on his way out, and he made his final appearance on June 14, 1959. In a twelve-season career, he posted a 122-78 (.610) record with 981 strikeouts and a 4.00 ERA in 1718.2 innings pitched.
Following his retirement as a player, Erskine returned to his native Indiana. He coached at Anderson College for 12 seasons, including four Hoosier Conference championships, and his 1965 squad went 20-5 and reached the NAIA World Series. He had 18 players named to All-Conference teams, and three named as All-American. In 1973, his final season, he coached John Bargfeldt, who later spent three seasons in the minors as a Chicago Cubs prospect. He also became a leader in the community, participating in numerous organizations and businesses, including rising to the presidency of the Star Bank of Anderson, Indiana before easing back to the role of vice chairman of the board. He is devoted to his son Jimmy, who has Down syndrome and lives at home and holds a job nearby at the Hopewell Center for people with developmental difficulties, and to his grandchildren Abby, Amy, Luke, and Dannae.
To commemorate Erskine's accomplishments both as a Dodger and as a citizen, a 6-foot (1.8 m) bronze statue was erected in front of the Carl D. Erskine Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine Center. Erskine also donated part of his land to the Anderson Community School System to build a new school, which was named Erskine Elementary.
Erskine currently serves as a member of the advisory board of the Baseball Assistance Team, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to helping former Major League, Minor League, and Negro League players through financial and medical difficulties.
Erskine is also a very active member of the First Baptist Church of Anderson, Indiana.
- Carl Erskine (2004). Carl Erskine's Tales from the Dodgers Dugout: Extra Innings. Sports Publishing. ISBN 1-58261-282-X.
- Carl Erskine (2005). What I learned from Jackie Robinson. McGraw Hill. ISBN 0-07-145085-8.
- Roger Kahn, The Boys of Summer (New York: Harper & Row, 1972)
- List of Major League Baseball no-hitters
- List of Major League Baseball players who spent their entire career with one franchise
- Bob, Hurte. "Carl Erskine". sabr.org. Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
- Tackett, Michael (May 28, 2016). "Carl Erskine Helps Honor a Childhood Friend". New York Times. p. SP5. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
- Benardo, Leonard; Weiss, Jennifer (2006). Brooklyn by Name. New York and London: New York University Press. p. 125. ISBN 978-0-8147-9945-1. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
- [dead link]
- Carl Erskine Official Website
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- BaseballLibrary – profile and career highlights
- Society for American Baseball Research. Carl Erskine, written by Bob Hurte.
June 19, 1952
May 12, 1956
|Brooklyn Dodgers Opening Day