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They Played
the Game
PEE WEE REESE

Full name: Harold Henry Reese
Born: July 23, 1918 (Ekron, KY)
ML Debut: April 23, 1940
Final Game: September 26, 1958
Bats: Right    Throws: Right
5 '9"   175
Hall of Fame: 1984 (Veterans Committee)


Played for Brookly Dodgers (1940-57), Los Angeles Dodgers (1958)
Postseason: 1941 WS, 1947 WS, 1949 WS, 1952 WS, 1953 WS, 1955 WS, 1956 WS
All-Star 1942, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954

PEE WEE REESE: "I had only played five games my senior year in high school. I was not large enough. Hell, when I graduated, I was about five foot four and weighed 120 pounds. I played ball for my church team, the New Covenant Presbyterian Church, and we won the city championship in 1937, and we won a trip to the 1937 World Series. A man by the name of Captain Neal, who was the general manager of the Louisville Colonels, which was a Double-A ball team, evidently noticed me, and he asked me if I wanted to play professional ball.
"....I played for this 1938 club, and the next year the team was purchased by Donie Bush and Frank McKinney, and we had a working agreement with the Boston Red Sox. In '39 they brought up players from the Red Sox, so we ended up that year with a pretty good ballclub. In fact we ended up winning the Little World Series.
"....Supposedly Bush and McKinney bought the Colonels just so they could acquire acquire my contract, and having a working agreement with the Red Sox, Boston had first choice if they wanted me. But evidently [manager and shortstop Joe] Cronin thought he could play a few more years, and he talked them out of buying me, and Bush and McKinney sold me to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1939 for $75,000.
"I was very disappointed. It was July, and I was going to an all-star game in Kansas City, the American Association all-stars against the Kansas City Royals, who were leading the league at that point, and I was on the train, and one of the Louisville writers told me that I had been sold to Brooklyn. I said something like ... "I don't want to go there." Which was kind of a stupid thing for me to say. It didn't go over too well in Brooklyn.
"I didn't go with the Dodgers until spring training of 1940 .... I got hit in the head by Jake Mooty of the Cubs, and I was in the hospital for eighteen days .... And then after I came back, in August I slid into second base and broke a bone in my ankle, so I was out for the rest of the year. So I only played eighty-four games my first year.
"When I opened the 1941 season with a brace on my ankle, it got me to wondering, because it was a tough year. We won the pennant, and I guess I contributed something, but I didn't have too good a year. I was having problems at bat and in the field, and it got to where I didn't feel too easy in the games. But naturally, I would never ask out of the lineup, though Larry MacPhail was pressuring Leo [Durocher] to take me out, and he did for one game .... In spite of me, we won the pennant."
BILL REDDY: "They talk about the great shortstops. There was Honus Wagner and Marty Marion, Phil Rizzuto and Luke Appling, but Reese is right up there with them, and nobody gives Pee Wee the credit they should. He was a great shortstop and a forceful leader on the diamond. He was the best at turning his back to the plate and going out into short left field for a fly ball. And Reese could make the plays look so easy ...."
-- Peter Golenbock
Bums: An Oral History of the Brooklyn Dodgers

Reese owed his 16 years ... in a Dodgers uniform to the vanity of another Hall of Fame shortstop. Ready for promotion to the majors from the Boston farm system in 1939, he was kept where he was because Red Sox shortstop-manager Joe Cronin wouldn't admit that his best years were behind him. Purchased by Brooklyn, the righthand-hitting Reese took a finishing course from still another Cooperstown shortstop-manager, Leo Durocher, then went on the captain The Boys of Summer teams through the 1950s.
Reese was the classic playmaker -- hitting behind the runner, bunting, and turning the double play with agility. In an era that didn't think too highly of stolen bases, he paced the NL in that category in 1952; he also topped the league in walks in 1947 and in runs scored in 1949. As much as in his physical skills, however, the solidly built infielder (his nickname came from his boyhood talent in shooting marbles, not from his size) was invalubale to Brooklyn for his leadership qualities -- and never more so than when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947 .... A footnote between the two was that in six of the 10 seasons they played together, Reese stole more bases than Robinson.
-- Dewey & Acocella
The Biographical History of Baseball
When news of Jackie Robinson's signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers became known, Pee Wee Reese's teammates drafted a petition to the Dodgers front office stating that they would rather be traded than play alongside a black man. Reese, a southerner from Kentucky, refused to sign the petition, which effectively nullified the ill-conceived effort. When Robinson was taking infield practice at a game in Cincinnati, fans and opposing players taunted him with racist insults and threats. After hearing the catcalls, as reported by Roger Kahn, "Reese walked across the field from his shortstop position, put his arm around Robinson and faced the crowd and the opposing bench, sending a courageous message of respect in an era stained by racial intolerance. Robinson, who endured insults and threats throughout his career, later said he never again felt alone on the ball field after that day." .... [T]he Jackie Robinson Empire State Freedom Medal ... is considered New York State's highest honor bestowed upon a civilian. It is presented annually to those who best demonstrate the qualities of determination, dignity, fairness, and honor, all traits exemplified by the man who broke major league baseball's color barrier. The medal was presented to the late Reese in 1999 ....
-- Stephen Wong
Smithsonian Baseball

"Pee Wee is the team captain and he plays the part all out. Especially in the dressing room, he knows where to be and what to say at all times."
-- Jackie Robinson
Major League Batting Record
Year
Team
G
AB
H
R
2B
3B
HR
RBI
SB
BB
SO
BA
OBP
SLG
1940
BRO
84
312
85
58
8
4
5
28
15
45
42
.272
.366
.372
1941
BRO
152
595
136
76
23
5
2
46
10
68
56
.229
.311
.294
1942
BRO
151
564
144
87
24
5
3
53
15
82
55
.255
.350
.332
1946
BRO
152
542
154
79
16
10
5
60
10
87
71
.284
.384
.378
1947
BRO
142
476
135
81
24
4
12
73
7
104
67
.284
.414
.426
1948
BRO
151
566
155
96
31
4
9
75
25
79
63
.274
.363
.390
1949
BRO
155
617
172
132
27
3
16
73
26
116
59
.279
.396
.410
1950
BRO
141
531
138
97
21
5
11
52
17
91
62
.260
.369
.380
1951
BRO
154
616
176
94
20
8
10
84
20
81
57
.286
.371
.393
1952
BRO
149
559
152
94
18
8
6
58
30
86
59
.272
.369
.365
1953
BRO
140
524
142
108
25
7
13
61
22
82
61
.271
.374
.420
1954
BRO
141
554
171
98
35
8
10
69
8
90
62
.309
.404
.455
1955
BRO
145
553
156
99
29
4
10
61
8
78
60
.282
.371
.403
1956
BRO
147
572
147
85
19
2
9
46
13
56
69
.257
.322
.344
1957
BRO
103
330
74
33
3
1
1
29
5
39
32
.224
.306
.248
1958
LAD
59
59
33
21
7
2
4
17
1
26
15
.224
.337
.381
TOTALS
2166
8058
2170
1338
330
80
126
885
232
1210
890
.269
.366
.377
World Series
1941
BRO
5
20
4
1
0
0
0
2
0
0
0
.200
.200
.200
1947
BRO
7
23
7
5
1
0
0
4
3
6
3
304
.448
.348
1949
BRO
5
19
6
2
1
0
1
2
1
1
0
.316
.381
.526
1952
BRO
7
29
10
4
0
0
1
4
1
2
2
.345
.387
.448
1953
BRO
6
24
5
0
0
1
0
0
0
4
1
.208
.321
.292
1955
BRO
7
27
8
5
1
0
0
2
0
3
5
.296
.367
.333
1956
BRO
7
27
6
3
0
1
0
2
0
2
6
.222
.276
.296
TOTALS
44
169
46
20
3
2
2
16
5
18
17
.272
.346
.349

Major League Fielding Record
Pos.
G
PO
A
E
DP
FP
SS
2014
4040
5891
388
1246
.962
3B
115
84
240
19
9
.945
2129
4124
6131
407
1255
.962