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Stolen away: Brooklyn pitcher recalls '51 sign-stealing scam

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Stolen away: Brooklyn pitcher recalls ’51 sign-stealing scam

NEW YORK (AP) – Stealing indicators. Banging on a trash can. Beating the Dodgers in October.

Sounds very acquainted to Carl Erskine.

“If they’re going to go back to 2017 with penalties for the Astros,” he stated Wednesday, “then I want them to go all the way back to 1951 to help us.”

The outdated Brooklyn pitcher was laughing. Sort of.

Now 93, Erskine vividly recalled what – till this week – had been the largest sign-stealing scandal in baseball historical past.

Up by 13 half video games in mid-August, Jackie Robinson and the Dodgers appeared destined. That was till rookie Willie Mays and the New York Giants got here flying again, fueled by an unimaginable, late run in dwelling video games on the Polo Grounds, and compelled a best-of-three playoff for the National League pennant.

Erskine was warming up within the Brooklyn bullpen in Game three when Bobby Thomson related for the famed “Shot Heard ‘Round the World,” a three-run homer within the backside of the ninth off Ralph Branca that rallied the Giants to a 5-Four win.

A half-century later, an enormous secret was revealed: The Giants had rigged a spyglass-and-buzzer system in late July to steal catchers’ indicators and tip off their hitters.

“We thought something was going on, we were suspicious, but we couldn’t prove anything,” Erskine stated from his dwelling in Anderson, Indiana. “I remember Ralph said to me, ‘I bet those dirty birds are cheating.’”

Herman Franks, a former Dodger who had turn out to be a Giants coach, was stationed within the dwelling clubhouse, above the 483-foot mark in heart discipline. From a darkened window, he spied on catchers with a telescope, then relayed the indicators.

When a buzzer rang within the New York bullpen – conveniently situated in play again then, in deep right-center discipline – a Giants participant who may waggle a white towel would sign to the hitter what sort of pitch was coming.

“A batter wouldn’t even have to move his head,” Erskine stated. “It was right over the pitcher’s left shoulder. Just shift your eyes to about 2 o’clock and you’d see it.”

Several years after the scheme got here to mild, Erskine noticed an obituary for Franks.

“I emailed Ralph and said to him: ‘Old Giants never die, they just steal away,’” Erskine stated.

Popularly often called “Oisk” by Brooklyn followers of “The Boys of Summer,” Erskine made his massive league debut in 1948 and spent all 12 years of his profession with the Dodgers, ending with Los Angeles. The right-hander was 16-12 in 1951 and went 122-78 total with two no-hitters. He went to the World Series 5 instances.

Erskine stated he’s learn some concerning the Astros’ scam, how they swiped indicators from a video feed in heart discipline and clanged a trash can to alert hitters to what pitch was coming. Houston closed out 2017 by beating the Dodgers within the World Series.

“You mean in this high-tech world they had to revert to that?” he stated, chuckling. “In the commissioner’s mind, it’s probably a lot of garbage he wished had never happened.”

Not that Erskine and the Dodgers didn’t attempt issues of their day.

“TV was still new in my era, in the early 1950s. We had a television in our clubhouse at Ebbets Field and when the opposing catcher or coach or manager would go to the mound, we’d try to read lips, to see what he was saying to the pitcher,” Erskine stated.

“Just fishing for anything. Pretty spotty results,” he stated. “But I guess it was a preliminary for what was to come later.”

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