To borrow a phrase from the President of the Hair Club for Men, “not only am I the President, but I’m also a customer.” Yep, I bought the 1947 Eddie Stanky Brooklyn Dodgers home jersey from the Bushing and Kinunen For Sales Site…and if you’re curious or care, yes I did pay the full asking price of the consigner.
When I saw the jersey, I knew this was something I really wanted to have on any number of levels. In the past year or so, I have begun to take a new found interest in the Brooklyn Dodgers. Have always liked Gil Hodges and have managed to acquire a couple of his bats. I also have a late 1940s Brooklyn Dodgers dugout jacket (player unknown) and a 1953 Road jersey of Billy Loes. I have looked at gamers of Reese, Robinson, Campy, Hodges, and Snider, but these items will forever be beyond my budget…and then along came this jersey. I think the work I did recently on the 1951 Gil Hodges jersey put me over the top or “Bum Happy” so to speak.
I have always looked upon the Brooklyn Dodgers of the 1950s in many of the same ways I have viewed the Big Red Machine of the 1970s…both dominant National League clubs, loaded with talent and built by great baseball men…Branch Rickey and Bob Howsam. The Reds and the Dodgers both began an era of greatness when they added an African-American second baseman (Jackie Robinson in 1947 and Joe Morgan in 1972). Both teams made deals to move stars out in order to move stars in. Tommy Helms was dealt to Houston as part of trade to land Joe Morgan and Stanky went to the Boston Braves to clear the way for Jackie in more ways than one.
Stanky was like many players of the day who openly opposed the integration of baseball. While a very solid player in his own right, he was a cancer to what Rickey was trying to do with the Brooklyn Ball club. Stanky was a two time all star at second base; 1947 and 1950 and played in all seven games of the 1947 World Series. He went on to play in the World Series for the Boston Braves in 1948 and back in New York with the Giants in 1951.
Tommy Helms, on the other hand was also a solid player ; National League Rookie of the Year in 1966, All Star in 1966 & 1967, Gold Gloves in 1970 and 1971, and a big part of the Reds World Series team of 1970. The big difference is folks regarded Helms as a solid teammate and team player. Helms established himself at second base for the Reds and thus moved Pete Rose to the outfield. Later on Rose would move to third base, Perez would go to first in the place of fan favorite Lee May (also part of the Morgan trade), and the Reds outfield could then be populated by Foster, Geronimo, and Griffey…The Big Red Machine (oh yeh, they had a pretty fair backstop named Johnny Bench as well).
What would have happened in Brooklyn if Eddie Stanky in 1947 had been more like fellow southerner Pee Wee Reese? I started to really give this some thought when mulling over the purchase of this jersey….looks great, vintage team number change to #3…#3…? Billy Cox. Billy Cox came to Brooklyn from Pittsburg in 1948 and established himself as a solid part of the Dodger infield from 1948-1954. Always felt bad for him missing out on the 1955 season…much in the same way I did for Reds legendary pitcher and announcer Joe Nuxhall…Nuxy was traded by the Reds prior to the 1961 season… he was back at the end of the 1962 season, but missed his chance to pitch in World Series. Getting back to the Stanky jersey.
Stanky is traded to the Braves in 1948 for players and cash…not sure if you knew this, but Rickey got a % of the money for players the Dodgers sold…anyway, the Stanky move means the Dodgers need a new second baseman…Jackie’s move from first means they need a new first baseman as well. In 1947 the Dodgers had a couple of catchers named Bruce Edwards and Gil Hodges. Well, Branch Rickey knew he had a new catcher in mind and it wasn’t either Edwards or Hodges for the long hall…it was Hall of Famer Roy Campanella who joined “Dem Bums” in 1948…moving Stanky out clearing positions for Robinson, Hodges, and Campy…it also looks like it cleared a jersey for Billy Cox.
I am many things in this hobby/industry…Policy Director, Researcher/Writer, and above all else…a Collector. To me, this jersey represents so many things:
-Rare Flannel in Wonderful Condition
-Period Star Player from an All Star and World Series Year
-Tangible Connection to the Historic Convergence of Person (Jackie Robinson), Place (Brooklyn, NY) and Time (1947)
-Centerpiece of a Great Story About the Brooklyn Dodger Infield of the Late 1940s and Early to Mid 1950s.
If I had to pick one of these, it would have to be the last…don’t we all love to talk about and tell stories and what we have and why we have it…? I know I do.
As always, enjoy what you collect and collect what you enjoy…I know I do.
MEARS Auth, LLC
For questions or comments about this article, please feel free to drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com.