A STRONG DISAGREEMENT OVER THE TOP OF THE LOS ANGELES TIMES’ RECENTLY PUBLISHED SURVEY OF THE TWENTY ALL TIME GREATEST PLAYERS TO WEAR A DODGER UNIFORM
Recently the Los Angeles Times conducted a survey, asking fans to vote on the twenty greatest Dodgers of all time, spanning both the Brooklyn and Chavez Ravine days.
Over 14,000 people voted through the Times’ website, LATimes.com, choosing who in their opinion were the greatest players to ever wear the Dodger uniform at Ebbets Field and Dodger Stadium.
As a nearly lifelong Dodger fan – save for a few years during my teens when I rooted for other teams because being a Dodger fan wasn’t “cool” among my peers – I thought having a list of the twenty greatest Dodgers was a good idea, though I would have instituted a rule forbidding any active players to be considered.
Which meant current Dodger ace Clayton Kershaw wouldn’t have landed at #7; as great as he has been these past few years with his three Cy Young Awards and the 2014 Most Valuable Player honors to go along with his latest Cy Young trophy, I just feel that Kershaw – along with every other active player, no matter how good – just shouldn’t be considered for any all-time mentions until retirement.
Though I liked the idea of an all-time Dodger list, when I took a look at the sports page of the Friday, June 3rd edition of the Times, one thing stood out that I very much disagreed with.
That the voters screwed up on a pronounced level:
THE CHOICES FOR NUMBER ONE AND NUMBER TWO.
Please do not misunderstand me or think that I am against the man voted as number one in any way, shape, or form – I want to make it perfectly clear that I LOVE Sandy Koufax (pictured above at left).
In my book, he’s the greatest pitcher to ever wear the cursive “Dodgers” logo, and one of the greatest left handers to ever step on a mound if not the best.
If listing the 20 greatest Dodgers were solely up to me, one man would be the clear, no doubt, not-even-close-and-not-up-for-discussion choice for the top spot.
The man whom the fans voted as second on the Times’ list:
JACK ROOSEVELT ROBINSON.
Indeed, Koufax and Robinson’s positions on the list sorely needed to be reversed, with the man with four no hitters (including that epic perfect game against the Chicago Cubs in 1965) being placed at number two.
One, for all intents and purposes, stands out and is really the only one:
Jackie Robinson breaking the racist color barrier on April 15, 1947, and excelling on the field despite all the bad things done to him and the unbearable pressures he went through.
His on the field career – a lifetime batting average of .311 and changing the way that baseball was played with his daring on the base paths, which wasn’t a very big thing among major leaguer until then – was outstanding enough, but the significance of the former UCLA legend’s career as a ten-year Dodger far transcends baseball as he essentially began the Civil Rights Movement with his joining the majors.
Jackie scoring against the (then) Boston Braves
Keep in mind that his major league debut came eight years before Rosa Parks refused to go to the back of that bus in Montgomery,
A full ten years before those nine teenagers began classes at Little Rock Central High,
Sixteen years before Martin Luther King’s (who incidentally made it a point to tell Jackie that he made his job easier) “I Have A Dream” speech at the March on Washington,
And eighteen full years before that Selma-to-Montgomery march.
Sandy Koufax may have been imperative in putting the Los Angeles Dodgers on the map, giving the team an identity in Southern California after having moved from Brooklyn.
But Jackie did so much more, for America in general as well as for baseball.
After all, Sandy would have been able to play before 1947. Players who looked like Jackie couldn’t, and he changed all of that.
That is why Jackie needs to be number one and Sandy number two on any all-time greatest Dodger list.
Anyone who disagrees with that, well…
That’s their right, but we’d have to agree to strongly disagree.