By Glen Sparks
One of the Brooklyn Dodgers’ fabled Boys of Summer still plays a mean harmonica at the age of 88.
Carl Erskine recently performed the national anthem before an Indiana Pacers-Cleveland Cavaliers game in Indianapolis. Reporter Dana Hunsinger Benlow wrote an article about Erskine that appeared in the Indianapolis Star the day before the former Dodger pitcher and Indiana native stepped onto the court at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Benlow writes about Erskine’s days as a basketball player at Anderson High School’s old Wigwam Gymnasium, his time on the mound in the Anderson Parks city league, and, of course, his career with the Dodgers. Erkine talks about competing with immortals like Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider, Roy Campanella, Jackie Robinson and others.
The 5-foot-10-inch right-hander pitched 12 seasons in the big leagues, all of them with the Dodgers. He retired with a won-loss record of 122-78, plus 71 complete games and 14 shutouts. In 1953, Erskine finished ninth in the National League MVP race. He went 20-6 with a league-leading .769 winning percentage. His 16 complete games and 187 strikeouts also were career highs. Erskine no-hit the Chicago Cubs on June 9, 1952, and the San Francisco Giants on May 12, 1956.
Erskine, who still lives in Anderson, came up to the big leagues in 1948, one year after Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier. Getting along with African-American players like Robinson, Campanella, Don Newcombe and Joe Black was never a problem for Erskine, he says. Why not, a player once asked. “Well, I grew up with Johnny Wilson,” Erskine said. Read the article.