Sunday, December 23, 2012

Boyd Bartley, former Brooklyn Dodgers shorstop passes away at 92

The roster of the living former Brooklyn Dodgers is now one player lighter. Boyd Bartley, former shortstop for the Brooklyn Dodgers passed away Friday evening in Hurst, Texas. He was 92.

The Dodgers signed Bartley from the University of Illinois in 1943 after a bonus steered him away from his hometown Chicago Cubs. The young shortstop was heralded for his defensive prowess, receiving comparisons to Lou Boudreau. The Dodgers wasted little time in testing Bartley’s skills, inserting him into the lineup a day after he signed, starting both games of a doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds.
Boyd Bartley

Sadly, Bartley never lived up to the comparison to the future Hall of Famer. Bartley made three errors in his first three games, shaking manager Leo Durocher's confidence. He lasted nine games in a week-and-a-half, batting 1-21, with his only hit coming ironically against the Chicago Cubs. The club sent Bartley down to Montreal due to his lack of production, as the 37-year-old Durocher inserted himself into the shortstop role.

Bartley played in Montreal for about a month before being ordered to report to Camp Grant, Illinois on July 12, 1943. Like many of his era, his World War II service greatly affected his baseball career path. While serving with the Army in the Pacific, Bartley was operating a jeep when he encountered a Japanese patrol. In his attempt to escape the patrol, his vehicle flipped over and he injured his shoulder. His arm never fully recovered.

He returned to baseball in 1947, and spent a few more years as a player-manager in the Brooklyn Dodger system with the Ponca City (Oklahoma) Dodgers of the Class D KOM League, guiding them to two division titles between 1947 and 1952. He missed the 1951 season as he was recalled to active duty, serving as an athletic director in Fort Chafee, Arkansas. When the KOM league folded after the 1952 season, Bartley managed an additional four seasons for their various Class D affiliates.

Starting in 1968, he became a scout for the Dodgers, holding the position for 23 years before retiring in 1990. His most prized signing was Orel Hershiser. The prized Dodger pitcher fondly recalled Bartley’s courtship in his 2001 biography, “Between the Lines.”

“In a few weeks Boyd Bartley, a Dodger scout, came to our home in Detroit to present their offer. Because I wasn't going to turn twenty–one for three more months, my dad had to be in the meeting. Mr. Bartley offered me ten thousand dollars, an assignment, and a dream. ‘We'll send you to our Class A team in Clinton, Iowa. You'll have the chance to grow and develop and work your way up the ladder to play in the big leagues. We want you to pitch in Dodger Stadium some day.’ I was awestruck by his words. My dream was about to come true. I was going to turn pro. After a short meeting in the kitchen with my dad and mom, I took the offer.”

Bartley's death leaves only 42 living players who donned the Dodgers uniform in Brooklyn. He is survived by his wife Aletha, to whom he was married for 69 years, as well as his three sons, his daughter, and numerous grandchildren.

Editor's Note - Bartley's place of death has been corrected to Hurst, Texas, as per the Ponca City News.


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