June 1, 2023

One of the Most Intriguing Players In Baseball History

March 15, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

Pete Reiser of the Brooklyn Dodgers is one of the most intriguing players in baseball history. In 1941, he batted .343 and won a batting title at age 22. He also led the National League in runs, doubles, triples, total bases, slugging, and OPS. He was the starting centerfielder in the All-Star Game and finished second in the MVP voting.

Injuries and a three-year stint in the military limited him to only four seasons of 100 or more games. He was never able to match his sophomore season. He averaged just 86 games a season over a 10-year career.

Author Dan Joseph praises the feisty outfielder in Baseball’s Greatest What If: The Story and Tragedy of the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Pistol Pete Reiser. Consider this quote from former Dodgers manager Leo Durocher in 1975: “He was every bit as good as Willie Mays. Might have been better. Pete Reiser just might have been the best player I ever saw.”

Durocher wasn’t the only one praising Reiser. Others compared the young Brooklyn outfielder to Ted Williams, Stan Musial, and Joe DiMaggio.

Reiser was always a full-speed-ahead player, often risking his career to catch fly balls. He suffered serious injuries from crashing into outfield walls, which were brick or concrete and unpadded, several times during his career. There was also no warning track. He was carried over the field 11 times and was once given his final rites.

On July 12, 1942, Reiser ran into the outfield brick wall, hit the back of his head, suffered a severe concussion, and fractured his skull. Joseph writes that Reiser was damaged goods for the remainder of his career.

Reiser hurt his case by insisting he return to the lineup as soon as possible. He should have rested more.

Over the years, he suffered a number of injuries to his shoulders, ankles, and torn ligaments. He was bothered by headaches and dizziness.

This is a thoroughly researched book and author Dan Joseph deserves a lot of credit for debunking several Pete Reiser myths. He also sets the record straight on a number of other stories that Reiser embellished.

Every baseball fan owes it to themselves to read this well-written, informative biography of Pete Reiser.

Reiser died on Oct. 21, 1987, at age 62.

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