Walt Alston, center, with Vin Scully and Connie Desmond in the mid 1950s.( Los Angeles Dodgers)
Branch Rickey with Jackie Robinson in 1950.(Associated Press)
Garvey, right, is the only member of the Cey-Russell-Lopes-Garvey infield to make the top 20.(Los Angeles Dodgers)
Pee Wee Reese stands with Jackie Robinson.(Los Angeles Times)
Continuing our countdown of the 20 greatest Dodgers of all time, as selected by our readers.
No. 11: Pee Wee Reese (24 first-place votes, 25,018 points)
Pee Wee Reese is a Hall of Fame shortstop and an iconic member of the “Boys of Summer.” That alone is good enough to get him into the top in this survey, but most people who voted for him didn’t list either of those reasons for putting him into the top 10. Most gave one simple reason: “He befriended Jackie Robinson.”
Reese refused to sign a petition that threatened a players’ boycott if Robinson joined the team, but the most famous moment in the Reese-Robinson friendship came in 1947 in Cincinnati. During pre-game infield practice, Robinson was taking his usual verbal abuse from the crowd. Reese, a Southerner from Kentucky with friends attending the game, walked over to Robinson and put his arm around him while talking to him, a gesture that silenced the crowd.
Reese died in 1999. At his funeral, Joe Black, one of the first black pitchers in the majors and a former teammate of Reese, said: “Pee Wee helped make my boyhood dream come true to play in the majors, the World Series. When Pee Wee reached out to Jackie, all of us in the Negro League smiled and said it was the first time that a white guy had accepted us. When I finally got up to Brooklyn, I went to Pee Wee and said, ‘Black people love you. When you touched Jackie, you touched all of us.’ With Pee Wee, it was No. 1 on his uniform and No. 1 in our hearts.”
Add the fact that Reese was a great player and shortstop and you have an easy choice for one of the greatest Dodgers of all time.