Dixie Walker, one of the most popular players in Brooklyn history, died at age 71 at his home in Alabama. Called "The People's Cherce" by Brooklyn fans, he joined the Dodgers in 1940 when Larry MacPhail claimed him off the waiver wire from Detroit.
He hit .436 against the hatedgiants and instantly became a folk hero. He hit .311 over his career with the Dodgers, leading the league in 1944 with a .352 average and leading the league in 1945 with 124 runs batted in.
He was accused of distributing a petition against the promotion of Jackie Robinson during spring training in 1947 but claimed he was not even in camp when it was circulated.
Walker asked to be traded but President Branch Rickey kept him for the remainder of the season as Brooklyn won the National League pennant and then fell to the Yankees in the seven game World Series.
Walker told the media when the season ended, that Jackie Robinson, along with Bruce Edwards were the team's most valuable players and year's later it was reported that he had helped Robinson with his hitting during the season but didn't want his friends at homer, where he operated a hardware store, to know about it because it would probably destroy the business.
He later became the Dodgers batting coach in Los Angeles and was a successful manager in the Dodger minor league system.
May 17, 1929-- Babe Herman had two doubles and a homer and knocked in three runs as Brooklyn won 14-13 in Philadelphia. Herman was 18-for-44 (.409) in Philadelphia's Baker Bowl that season.
May 17, 1932 -- Van Lingo Mungo, who was the subject of a song by the same name, beat Pittsburgh 2-1 in 10 innings with the winning Brooklyn run scoring on an error. Mungo, with a blazing fastball, was acclaimed to be the equal to Carl Hubbell of the Giants, and he may have been. Playing with terrible Dodger teams from 1931-1939, he recorded a 102-99 record, striking out over 1,000 over six full seasons and parts of five others, but his run support was scant and his fielders pretty much inept.
May 17, 1939-- Luke "Hot Potato" Hamlin, on his way to his first and only 20-win season, lost to St. Louis 2-1 when a native Brooklyn boy, Goody Rosen, collected the only hit he allowed.
May 17, 1940-- Dodger GM Larry MacPhail told the press, "Branch Rickey (then GM of the Cardinals) offered outfielder Joe Medwick even up for shortstop Pee Wee Reese. I told him no." Medwick was a slugging outfielder and has won the triple crown in 1937.
May 17, 1943-- George Melton, who had a 20-25 career record for Brooklyn, beat St. Louis 1-0 as Dolph Camilli provided an important triple.
May 17, 1946-- Pete Reiser, just out of the army, slugged an inside the park home run against Pittsburgh to help Ralph Branca beat the Pirates 16-6. Of Reiser, Dodger manager Leo Durocher, who of course managed Willie Mays, would say in later life, "He might have been the greatest player I ever managed. He had everything but luck." Starting in 1941, Reiser ran into the outfield wall on a regular basis chasing long hits and the injuries he received eventually wrecked his body, retiring at age 28.
May 17, 1948-- The Dodgers ended Johnny Sain's 29 consecutive scoreless inning streak in the first inning but still lost a 12-3 decision.
May 17, 1952-- Preacher Roe beat Chicago 6-0 as Jackie Robinson knocked in the winning run. Roe would compile a pair of 10-game winning streaks during the season and finished with a 22-3 record, setting a Major League record with an .880 winning percentage.
May 17, 1982--Carl Erskine took a no-hitter in the sixth inning of a game against the Reds but Gus Bell beat out a bunt to break it up. It was the only hit in a 10-0 Brooklyn win. He allowed only a single ball was hit out of the infield.
The Dodgers lost the first game of the doubleheader despite home runs by Robinson, Roy Campanella and George "Shotgun" Shuba. Jim Gilliam reached base in his 24th consecutive game en route to a Rookie of the Year award.
His first no-hitter came June 19, 1952 when he beat the Cubs 5-0 and narrowly missed a perfect game, walking opposing pitcher Willie Ramsdell who became the only baserunners.