Brooklyn Boro

Dodgers’ Carl Erskine, 94, still remembers his Brooklyn days

January 15, 2021 By Andy Furman, Special to Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Share this:

He called it, “A small town in a big city.”

Carl Erskine, a former right-handed starting pitcher who played his entire career for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers from 1948 through 1959 remembers Brooklyn – and likes what he remembers.

“I spent most of my 10 years in Brooklyn living in Bay Ridge,” the 94-year-old told the Eagle from his Anderson, Indiana home by phone the other day. “One of the hardest things was to find a place to live every spring. It was hard to purchase a home on a one-year contract.”

Thanks to teammate Duke Snider, Erskine and wife Betty found a place on Lafayette Walk.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

“Duke had a place in Bay Ridge, along with Preacher Roe and Pee Wee Reese,” Erskine remembered, “so it worked out very well for us.”

In fact, Erskine, who was a pitching mainstay on Dodger teams which won five National League pennants, peaking with a 1953 season in which he won 20 games and set a World Series record with 14 strikeouts in a single game, even remembers Mrs. Coughlin.

“Oh, Mrs. Coughlin,” he chuckled, “she rented her home to us for the summer. It worked out quite well, too. She went to Saratoga, New York to stay with her sister during the summer.”

And, if the Dodgers made it to the post-season, Mrs. Coughlin always permitted the Erskines to stay through October.

Before Mrs. Coughlin, Erskine recalled, the Pepperman family rented them their basement apartment.

“I still get some cards and letters from their kids,” he said.

A baseball-card photo of Carl Erskine, circa 1953. Public domain photo via Wikimedia

Erskine said the neighborhood had street parties, and it wasn’t difficult to find a baby sitter.

“I remember Abe Meyerson,” he said. “He had five kids and owned a deli. Every time I pitched he’d bring over a bag of groceries.”

From Bay Ridge to the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers — Ebbets Field — was a car ride with Snider, Reese and Roe, Erskine said.

“Pee Wee would usually drive,” he said, “he’d dodge the lights and go around the block.”

That was because he was always the last man out of the clubhouse, Erskine said. 

“He’d always smoke his pipe after the game. “I remember him saying, ‘If you hurry in and out of the clubhouse, you’ll hurry out of baseball,’” Erskine said. “He was the perfect captain for us.”

“Every once in a while we’d take the subway,” he said. “Everyone knew Pee Wee and Duke, until I pitched a no-hitter.”

Erskine pitched two no-hitters – against the Chicago Cubs on June 19, 1952 and the New York Giants on May 12, 1956. He was a member of the beloved Dodgers team which won the 1955 World Series for the franchise’s first Series title.

He appeared in 11 World Series games (1949-52-53-55-56) and made the National League All-Star team in 1954.

It was in 1947 – the year Jackie Robinson made it to Brooklyn – the Dodgers were playing their Double-A farm club in Ft. Worth, Texas, Erskine remembers.

“I pitched five innings in that game,” he said. “After that game, Jackie walked across the field and asked for me by name.”

“’Young man,’” he said to me, “’I hit against you twice today – you’ll be with us soon.’”

Sure enough, Erskine was called to Brooklyn on July 25 that season. He went on to win 122 games and losing just 78 in his career.

“Jackie and I became good friends,” he said. “We did a lot of school talks. He even came to Indiana and helped with the Wildcat Baseball Program in Ft. Wayne.”

Today, Carl Erskine and his wife live in a retirement village, about 1,600 square feet, he says.

“I answer mail, and play my harmonica,” he said. “I have a good life.”

Baseball may have changed – but not Carl Erskine.

Andy Furman is a Fox Sports Radio national talk show host. Previously, he was a scholastic sports columnist for the Brooklyn Eagle. He may be reached at: [email protected]


Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment