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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Oldies but goodies
Don Zimmer played somewhat of a limited role on Brooklyn's 1955 World Series championship team, but he will be the center of attention for Saturday's Turn Back the Clock game against the Dodgers.
By MARC TOPKIN
Published June 17, 2007
Don Zimmer played somewhat of a limited role on Brooklyn's 1955 World Series championship team, but he will be the center of attention for Saturday's Turn Back the Clock game against the Dodgers. A Zimmer "Now and Then" double-Bobblehead, featuring him in Dodgers and Devil Rays uniforms, will be given out to the first 15, 000 fans. (Zimmer, by the way, thinks the "Now" version is more realistic.) Three teammates from the '55 squad - Hall of Famer Duke Snider, Johnny Podres and Carl Erskine - will join him in signing autographs. The Dodgers will wear 1955 Brooklyn road uniforms (and the Rays will have 1950s-style unis from the minor-league St. Petersburg Saints).
The oldies and doo-wop group Sha Na Na (Rock and Roll is Here to Stay, Born to Hand Jive from the movie Grease) will perform a postgame concert. Boys of Summer author Roger Kahn will emcee pregame.
And there's a 1950s costume contest with the winner getting a trip to New York to see the Rays play the Yankees and tickets to Grease on Broadway.
Pretty good, as Zimmer likes to say, for a .235 career hitter.
Zimmer, who made his major-league debut with a 24-game cameo the year before, played in 88 games for the '55 Dodgers, taking over at second for struggling Junior Gilliam, and hitting .239 for a team that went 98-55-1. Zimmer started Games 1, 2 and 7 in the World Series, going 2-for-9, as the Dodgers, who had lost the championship to the Yankees four times from 1947-1953, finally came out on top.
"It was a thrill - '55 was something, " Zimmer said. "It was a hell of a team."
There were seven eventual Hall of Famers on the team, including manager Walter Alston, rookie Sandy Koufax and a journeyman pitcher named Tommy Lasorda.
Zimmer's best memory of that season was his last.
"I'd have to say it was when we won the seventh game, " he said. "Not so much for me, but for Pee Wee Reese, (Gil) Hodges, Jackie Robinson, (Roy) Campanella, Erskine, those guys that had been there and had been beaten by the Yankees all those other times. It was a bigger thrill for them, getting the monkey off their back. And that was the big thrill for me."
Not exactly Saintly
The Saints joined the Florida State League in 1955, according to Jim Ferguson at the National Association, and had a rough start as an unaffiliated team, using 67 players and going 51-85. Things got better as they became affiliated with the Yankees. Some of the players who wore those uniforms in the late '50s include Mike Ilitch, who went on to own the Tigers; Tom Tresh, who would be a rookie of the year and two-time Yankees All-Star; and Bill Stafford, who won 14 games twice and a couple of Series rings in New York.
Separated at birth
The Rays will have bragging rights when they play in Arizona on Monday, having beaten their expansion mates in all six previous encounters (3-0 in Arizona in 2004, 3-0 at the Trop last year). But the Diamondbacks actually have a lot more to brag about since the teams began play in 1998: