The walls of Cooperstown were painted Dodger Blue 26 years ago this week.
It was Induction Day at the Baseball Hall of Fame – Aug. 12, 1984 – and two more members of the Dodgers’ organization – both Brooklyn Dodgers at one point – were being enshrined into baseball’s sacred shrine.
Don Drysdale, who pitched two years in Brooklyn before spending the rest of his career in Los Angeles, and Pee Wee Reese – the Brooklyn Dodgers’ shortstop and captain, were both inducted.
Luis Aparicio, Harmon Killebrew and Rick Ferrell were also enshrined into the Hall of Fame that day.
Known for his bulldog mentality on the mound, Drysdale kept his opponents off-center by pitching inside like future fireballers Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson would in years to come. Drysdale is No. 14 all-time with 154 hit batsmen, while deadball dazzler and Hall of Famer Walter Johnson is tops all-time with 203 bruised opponents.
“The trick against Drysdale is to hit him before he hits you,” said Hall of Fame first baseman Orlando Cepeda.
Drysdale went 17-9 in 1957 in his second and final season for Brooklyn before heading to Southern California and accumulating most of his 209 wins, 2,486 strikeouts and 2.95 career ERA – winning a major league-leading 25 games in 1962 when he took home the Cy Young award.
“Batting against Drysdale is the same as making a date with a dentist,” quipped Dick Groat, an All-Star infielder in the 1950s and 1960s.
Reese was part of seven National League pennant-winning teams with the Brooklyn Dodgers. The shortstop compiled 2,170 hits and led the league in runs in 1949 with 132. His final big league season was the Dodgers’ first in Los Angeles in 1958.
“What a decent human being. How much he helped me,” said Jackie Robinson, baseball’s first modern African-American player and Reese’s teammate from 1947-56. “But he refused to take the credit.
The 1984 inductee duo had four World Series rings between them, Reese earning his in 1955 with Brooklyn and Drysdale garnering three rings with the 1959, 1963 and 1965 Los Angeles clubs.
Cooperstown was already flush with Brooklyn Dodgers before Reese and Drysdale arrived, as the likes of Duke Snider, Jackie Robinson, Sandy Koufax had already been welcomed into the sports world’s most heralded shrine.
The franchise, which has also been known as the Grooms, Superbas and Robins, has 46 player Hall of Famers in all, and added a new former Dodger in 2009 in Rickey Henderson, who played with the club in his final season of 2003.
Thomas Lawrence was the public relations intern in the Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program Class of 2009 at the Baseball Hall of Fame