November 10th, 2008


Ole Preach

Reese, Robinson, RoeRIP, Preacher Roe.

Roe pitched for the Dodgers in the early fifties, and was one of the players featured in Roger Kahn's The Boys of Summer. He was the source of my favorite quote from that book. Kahn mentions that Roe once hit a home run to win a ball game, and that it was a very rare event.

Kahn: "The book also says you came to bat 620 times and that was the only home run."

Roe: "Yep. You got a secret weapon like that, you don't want to go showing it around."

By all accounts, he was quite a character. When he retired at 39, unusually late in those days, he attributed his longevity to "clean living and the spitball." Later he wrote an article for Sports Illustrated on how to throw the illegal pitch.

I really like this picture I found of Roe, celebrating his win in the third game of the '52 Series with Pee Wee Reese (on the left) and Jackie Robinson. First there's just the sheer joy on the faces of the three men. But there's also the context, two white men from the south embracing a black man in the early fifties. Quite a photo.