Other Free Encyclopedias » Famous Sports Stars » Baseball » Harold "Pee Wee" Reese Biography - Youth In Kentucky, Playing With Jackie Robinson, Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments, Career Statistics

Harold "Pee Wee" Reese - Playing With Jackie Robinson

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In spring 1947, when Brooklyn brought Robinson up from its Montreal farm club, tensions were high at the Dodger training camp. Reese took the lead in making a place for Robinson on the team despite resentments. Reese was the first to shake Robinson's hand and the first to play cards with him in the clubhouse. Not long after spring training began, a group of southern players, led by Dixie Walker, circulated a petition stating that they would not play if Robinson were allowed on the team. Reese, the team captain and a Southerner himself, bluntly refused to sign it. That action, many believe, effectively put an end to the uprising.

That was not the end of attacks on Robinson however. Once the season began, Robinson's presence gave rise to virulent racist provocation at ball parks throughout the United States. Witnessing a particularly violent eruption of racist heckling against Robinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, Reese walked onto the field and put his hand on Robinson's shoulder, a powerful expression of solidarity. "Pee Wee kind of sensed the sort of hopeless, dead feeling in me and came over and stood beside me for a while," Robinson is quoted in Arnold Rampersad's biography Jackie Robinson. "He didn't say a word but he looked over at the chaps who were yelling at me … and just stared. He was standing by me, I could tell you that. I will never forget it."

Chronology

1918 Born July 23 in Ekron, Kentucky
1937 Plays for New Covenant Presbyterian Church team
1938-39 Plays for Louisville Colonels of American Association
1939 Acquired by Boston Red Sox
1940 Sold to Brooklyn Dodgers
1941 Plays in first World Series
1942, 1947-54 National League All-Star
1943-45 Serves in U.S. Navy
1947 Jackie Robinson joins Brooklyn Dodges as first African American in major league baseball
1949, 1952-53, 1955-56 Plays in World Series
1954 Bats career high .309
1955 Brooklyn celebrates "Pee Wee Reese Night"
1958 Retires from baseball
1959 Coach for Los Angeles Dodgers
1984 Elected to National Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown
1984 Elected to Brooklyn Dodgers Baseball Hall of Fame
1997 Diagnosed with lung cancer
1999 Dies in Louisville

Awards and Accomplishments

1932 National Marbles Champion
1943, 1947-54 National League All-Star
1947 Leads National League with 104 bases on balls
1949 Leads National League with 132 runs scored
1952 Leads National League with 30 stolen bases
1952 Reaches base safely three times in one inning, a National League record
1953 Leads National League with 15 sacrifice hits
1984 Elected to National Baseball Hall of Fame and Brooklyn Dodgers Baseball Hall of Fame

Reese became Robinson's closest friend on the Dodgers, as well as his mate in a deadly double-play tandem after Robinson was switched to second base. Playing next to Jackie Robinson seems to have spurred Reese to the finest performances of his career. Beginning in 1947, Reese appeared in eight consecutive All-Star games. He had his best all-around season in 1949, batting .279 and leading the National League in runs scored. In 1954, he batted for a career high average of.309. Under Reese's captainship, the Dodgers won five National League pennants between 1949 and 1956. It wasn't until 1955 that Brooklyn finally managed to win the World Series, thanks in great measure to a spectacular play in the deciding game, in which Reese cut off a throw from the outfield after a fly out, spun blind and fired the ball to first to double off a runner there. The play helped preserve the Dodger's lead.

Reese hung up his spikes at the close of the 1958 season. When he retired, the Dodgers offered him the job of manager, a position he had already turned down twice as a player. He declined the job a third time, preferring to work with the team as a coach, a position he held for a single season. He subsequently worked as a baseball broadcaster for NBC and CBS, and as a representative for Louisville Slugger, the country's most respected maker of baseball bats. Reese underwent surgery for prostate cancer in the 1980s and in 1997 was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died on August 14, 1999 at his Louisville home.

Career Statistics

Yr Team Avg GP AB R H HR RBI BB SO SB E
BRO: Brooklyn Dodgers; LA: Los Angeles Dodgers.
1940 BRO .272 84 312 58 85 5 28 45 42 15 18
1941 BRO .229 152 595 76 136 2 46 68 56 10 47
1942 BRO .255 151 564 87 144 3 53 82 55 15 35
1946 BRO .284 152 542 79 154 5 60 87 71 10 26
1947 BRO .284 142 476 81 135 12 73 104 67 7 25
1948 BRO .274 151 566 96 155 9 75 79 63 25 31
1949 BRO .279 155 617 132 172 16 73 116 59 26 18
1950 BRO .260 141 531 97 138 11 52 91 62 17 26
1951 BRO .286 154 616 94 176 10 84 81 57 20 35
1952 BRO .272 149 559 94 152 6 58 86 59 30 21
1953 BRO .271 140 524 108 142 13 61 82 61 22 23
1954 BRO .309 141 554 98 171 10 69 90 62 8 25
1955 BRO .282 145 554 99 156 10 61 78 60 8 23
1956 BRO .257 147 572 85 147 9 46 56 69 13 25
1957 BRO .224 103 330 33 74 1 29 39 32 5 19
1958 LA .224 59 147 21 33 4 17 26 15 1 10
TOTAL .269 2166 8058 1338 2170 126 885 1210 890 232 407

As an eight-time All Star who led the Dodgers to seven pennants and one World Series victory, Pee Wee Reese would have won a place in the hearts of Brooklyn Dodger fans whatever else he had done. His courageous public support of Jackie Robinson earned him a more important spot not just in the history of baseball but in the history of the civil rights movement of the mid-century. Joe Black, a black pitcher who joined the Dodgers a couple years after Robinson, told Jet magazine, "When I finally got up to Brooklyn, I went to Pee Wee and said, 'Black people love you. When you touched Jackie, you touched all of us.' With Pee Wee, it was No. 1 on his uniform and No. 1 in our hearts."

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about 8 years ago

Does anyone know what happened after that game in Cincinati when Pee Wee put his arm around Jackie Robinson? Did either player receive repercussions from it?

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over 11 years ago

Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese are my heros! They stood up for what was right and did not back down!