Big D Feels Like a Kid When He Retires at 33

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When it was over, when the TV crews had turned off their lights and cameras and left, Don Drysdale lingered, remaining in the Dodger Stadium Club to talk with The Times’ Ross Newhan.

Moments earlier, Drysdale had made official what had been rumored for days: At 33, he was retiring, felled because of a shoulder injury.

“Yesterday, when I went upstairs to meet with Peter O’Malley, I sat in the stands to watch a few innings of the game and I heard a sound that I had not heard since I was a boy,” Drysdale told Newhan.


“In all the years I pitched, it was as if I became immune to the sound of bat hitting ball and ball hitting mitt.

“It had always been a magnetic click for me and I saw my whole childhood again. I knew then that all my dreams had come true.”

And just like that, Big D was gone. He’d spent nearly half his life with the Dodgers.

The Brooklyn Dodgers signed him when he was 17, a Van Nuys High player, for a $4,000 bonus and a $250 monthly salary. He was sent to Bakersfield of the California League.

At 19, he was at triple-A Montreal. At 21, in 1957, he was on the Dodgers’ staff in Brooklyn, leading the team with a 17-9 record.

When he retired, 30 years ago today, he was the club’s last player link to its Brooklyn years.

Gruff, crusty Walter Alston, the Dodger manager, had tears in his eyes when he spoke at Drysdale’s news conference.


“If the Dodgers have been successful during the years I managed, then Don Drysdale is one of the reasons, one of the big reasons,” he said.

“I’d like to say thank you to Don Drysdale and I will always be in his corner.”

Also on this date: In 1964, former Times sportswriter Major Owen Bird died at 77. Bird had pinned the nickname “Trojans” on USC sports teams, after writing of the school’s 1912 track team: “They work like Trojans.” . . . In 1929, at Cleveland, Babe Ruth hit his 500th home run. At the time, no one else had hit more than 237. . . . In 1980, at Yankee Stadium, Reggie Jackson hit his 400th home run.