Friday, November 18, 2016

Bob Addis, 91, infamous play changed the fortunes of Dodgers 1951 season

Even though it was a play that only happened in front of a few thousand fans, a well-timed slide by Boston Braves outfielder Bob Addis led to a decision so impactful on the 1951 pennant race that some have called it, “The Call Heard ‘Round the World.” Barreling towards home plate on teammate Earl Torgeson’s ground ball to Brooklyn Dodgers second baseman Jackie Robinson, Addis deftly slid underneath the tag of Roy Campanella, evoking an emphatic safe call from umpire Frank Dascoli. Chaos of the resulting call ensued, with the results quickly altering the course of the Dodgers season. For the next 65 years, Addis held steadfast to the umpire’s call, never wavering from the outcome. On November 15th, 2016, Addis passed away at the age of 91 in Mentor, Ohio.

Bob Addis / Author's Collection
As quickly as Dascoli ruled on the play, Campanella jumped up to protest the decision; without hesitation, Dascoli tossed Campanella out of the game, leaving the Dodgers without their star catcher after Addis scored the go-ahead run. The loss way a key factor in setting up the Dodgers three-game playoff with the New York Giants that led to Bobby Thomson’s infamous, “Shot Heard ‘Round the World.” Despite the ensuing fracas that resulted in not only Campanella’s ejection, but also future NBA Hall of Famer Bill Sharman, who was sent packing when the umpiring crew cleared the Dodgers’ bench, Addis remained fond of the Dodgers catcher who was also his former minor league teammate.

“Roy Campanella came down for a very short time [in 1948] and played in St. Paul,” Addis recalled in a 2008 phone interview. “He hit five home runs in a row playing down there. ... He was a great guy too. I was really disappointed when he got into the accident. I talked to him often and he was a very friendly person.”

The Hartland company immortalized Addis’ memorable play with a limited edition statue in 2013. Michael Swank, who helped to bring Addis' statue to reality with Hartland, queried the former Brave about the disputed call while he was signing the collectibles for the company.

"When he came over for the signing of the statues ... we really broke the play down," Swank said. "When we finished I asked him, 'Were you safe?' He looked at me, took a sip of his water, and said, 'The only thing I have ever been more sure of was the fact that I chose the perfect bride.'"

Bob Addis Hartland Statue / Hartland LLC

Addis played for four seasons in the major leagues from 1950-1953 with the Braves, Chicago Cubs, and Pittsburgh Pirates, compiling a lifetime .281 average in 208 games. Of the three organizations that he played for, he was most fond of the Pirates in retirement for how they reached out to him during his post-playing career.

“I played so briefly with the Pirates, but they treated me better than any team that I played with,” he said. “I could go to Pittsburgh anytime and see a game. They fly me over to do a signing for a few hours, pay me, and put me up in a hotel. They do well by their alumni.”

After his baseball career, Addis went back to school to become a history teacher. He served as a teacher, coach, and Athletic Director at Euclid High School for 34 years before his 1993 retirement. Surveying the landscape of the major leagues during the 1950s, Addis felt that there were so many talented ballplayers that could never fully experience a break through due to the limited amount of roster spots and rules on player movement at the time.

“The big difference between then and now is that there were only 16 major league teams,” he said. “I saw so many good ballplayers in Triple-A that really didn’t make it. They had so many players to choose from. They had players today that were as good as the players back then, but not as many. You could come up now and play 20 games and get two hits; if you did that back then, you were on the bench. They had so many players trying to make it back when we played. A lot of these guys got up only briefly or never at all.”


Post a Comment