Former Italian / American Brooklyn Dodger: Carl Furillo (1946-1960)

Carl Anthony Furillo was born March 8th, 1922, in Stony Creek Mills, Pennsylvania. His parents were Michael & Filomena Furillo, Italian immigrants. The strong six-foot, right-handed Furillo, grew up four miles outside of Reading Pennsylvania and played on their local baseball team. His mother passed away when he was just 18 years old.

Nick Names: Furillo had an incredibly strong throwing arm, earning him the nickname “The Reading Rifle”. Defensively, Furillo was an outstanding outfielder, one of the best of his era. He was a master of playing the tricky right field wall at Ebbets Field, in front of the famous Abe Stark sign which read “hit this sign and win a suit”. 

He would have ten or more outfield assists for nine straight seasons, finishing first or second in put outs six different times. In his career Furillo threw out seven base runners that made too wide of a turn at first base.

He was also called "skoonj" referring to the Italian seafood dish of scungilli which was his favorite. Scingiilli is a conch or snail. Furillo was one of the slowest base runners in his day, so the "skoonj" also meant his slow peed compared to that of a snail's pace. His slow running led him to hit into 207 career double plays, leading the league in that category in 1956 with 27.

Early on he threw so hard his coaches wanted him to be a pitcher. But he had no control & threw too wild making it was dangerous for hitters at the plate. 

Military Service: Furillo spent three years in the military during in World War II from 1942-1946. He earned three battle starts & was wounded in the Pacific Theater. He turned down the Purple Star because he felt his wounds hadn't made him valiant. 

Leo Durocher Conflicts: When Furillo returned from the service, he was approached by Leo Durocher to sign a contract with the Dodgers. When he asked for more money Durocher told him "Take it or leave it". Over the years they would disagree over salary & have a stormy relationship. 

Furillo was against the idea of being platooned & Durocher saw it as a challenge to his leadership. Durocher would later say Furillo was a heavy drinker, but Furillo denied it saying Leo knew baseball but not how to deal with young players. When Durocher went over to manage the Giants, he would tell pitchers to throw at Furillo.

Brooklyn Dodgers Career: He was the Dodgers Opening Day centerfielder in 1946 at the age of 23. He would be a steady Dodger for the remainder of their time in Brooklyn through the 1957 season.

In his rookie year he hit .284 with three HRs 18 doubles, six triples, 35 RBIs & a .346 on base % while playing in 117 games. The Dodgers & Cardinals tied for first place that year & Brooklyn lost a best of three playoff series. Furillo's Dodgers, known as the Boys of Summer in that era, would finish first in nine of his 15 seasons as a player.

In 1947 he was not open to idea of Jackie Robinson joining the Dodgers club. He later apologized saying he had made a mistake & got along well with him. This also irked Durocher & he kept Furillo on the bench in Robinson's debut.

That year, the Dodgers won the NL pennant five games ahead of the Cardinals, Furillo played in 124 games, missing three weeks of action after a batted ball broke his nose. He batted .295 with 8 HRs 24 doubles & 88 RBIs.

1947 World Series: In his first World Series he hit .353 going 6-21 with two doubles & three RBIs. In the Game #1 loss, he had a hit & an RBI single off Joe Page. He did not play in the Game #2 loss. 

In Game #3 at Brooklyn's Ebbett's Field, he doubled home two runs off A.L. NY pitcher, Bobo Newsome, in the Dodgers six run, 2nd inning of their 9-8 win.

After going hitless in the next two games, he collected three hits in the f
inal two games, but Brooklyn lost the Series in seven games.

After finishing third in 1948, the Dodgers won another NL pennant in 1949 with Furillo now being one of the Dodgers team leaders. By now he had developed into one of the league's top hitters, Furillo would bat over .300 the next two seasons & do it five times in his career. He would hit over the .290 mark, a total of eleven times in a fifteen-year career as well. Over the next two seasons he would drive in over 100 runs each time have over 175 hits & 27 or more doubles.  

In 1949 he finished the year batting .430 in the final six weeks of the season. For the year he batted .322 (4th best in the NL) with 95 runs scored (9th in the NL). He hit 27 doubles with 18 HRs & drove in a career high 106 runs (7th most in the NL). He was one of three Dodgers to drive in over 100 runs (Jackie Robinson 124 & Gil Hodges 115). He posted .368 on base% & a .875 OPS.

1949 World Series: In this subway series rematch, Furillo was suffering from a pulled groin, he played in three of the five games, going just 1-8 in the loss.

In 1950 the Dodgers finished second to the "Whiz Kids" Phillies by just two games. Furillo batted .305 with 189 hits & 106 RBIs posting a .353 on base% & .813 OPS.

Dodgers /Giants Rivalry: The two National League New York teams of that day, from different sides of the cities & in two separate Burroughs, formed one baseball's all-time fiercest rivalries that would carry over with them to the West Coast. There were two stand out incidents that centered around Furillo.

Quotes- Carl Furillo: "We hated the Giants; I just hated that uniform”.

In 1950 after hitting a pair of HRs in a game against the Giants, New York, pitcher Sheldon Jones, hit Furillo in the head with a pitch just above the ear. Furillo went down & was carried off the field on a stretcher. Doctors said there was no concussion.

Before the game Durocher had told him "We had you skipping rope with the left hander, tonight you'll be ducking". That night Sheldon Jones visited Furillo in the hospital & told him that manager Leo Durocher, now manager with the Giants, had ordered him to hit Furillo.

Three years later in a 1953 game, Furillo got plunked on the wrist by Giants pitcher Ruben Gomez. Furillo was so infuriated that he charged the Giants' dugout instead of the mound, but the umpires broke it up.

Later while on first base, he glared into the Giants' dugout called time, then charged in going after Durocher. Leo already had a reputation telling his pitchers to throw at batters.

The benches cleared & all out brawl broke out with punches being thrown. Monte Irvin & Jim Hearn broke it up. In the middle of the ruckus, Furillo had his hand get stepped on, causing him to miss the rest of the regular season. 

In 1951 the Dodgers held a 12.5 game lead over the Giants as late as August 13th. In the thin walls of the Polo Grounds clubhouse, Jackie Robinson & Furillo could be heard taunting Durocher & the Giants." This would work as motivation for Leo & his boys.

The Dodgers were soon swept by the Giants in a three-game series, the Giants would go an amazing go 26-8 the rest of the way, as Brooklyn went just 25-24. 

On the last day of the season, with the Dodgers on the verge of elimination they were down 8-5 to the Phillies in Philadelphia in the 8th inning. They came back with two runs to make it a 8-7 game. Furillo added the game tying RBI base hit off Robin Roberts pitching in relief. Jackie Robinso's HR in the 14th inning was the game winner for Brooklyn as they & the Giants ended up in a tie for first place, ending the season.

For Furillo, he led the league in games played (158) plate appearances (724) & at bats (667). He collected a career high 197 hits, batted .295 with 32 doubles 16 HRs 93 runs scored & 91 RBIs. 

The Dodgers & Giants played the classic three game playoff, where Bobby Thompson hit the most famous HR in baseball history to walk off with the final game win at the Polo Grounds. In that three game playoff series, Furillo was held hitless by Brooklyn's pitching.

The next season Furillo was limited to 134 games, his average fell to a career low .247. That year he hit just 8 HRs with 59 RBI's but still made his first All Star team. It turned out he is having troubles with his eyes, seeing pitches. In that off season he would have cataracts surgery which helped his vision.

1952 World Series:
After two seasons, the Dodgers now returned to the World Series in 1952 for a seven-game classic subway series. After going hitless in the first two games, Furillo collected a hit in each of the next four games. 

In the 11th inning of Game #5 he made a spectacular catch, reaching over the fence robbing Johnny Mize of a game tying HR. In the top of that inning, Duke Snider had doubled off Johnny Sain bringing in Billy Cox with the go ahead run. Brookly went back to Ebbett's Field leading three games to two but lost the final two games. 

In that Series he had just four hits, two of them doubles going 4-23 (.174) 

NL Batting Champ: After the cataract's surgery in the off season, he returned for the Dodgers 1953 pennant season, to have one of his best seasons. He won the NL batting title hitting .344. even though his season was cut short after the injury in the brawl with the Giants. He posted career highs in doubles (38) on base % (.393) & OPS (.973). He hit 21 HRs with 92 RBIs while scoring 82 runs collecting 165 hits & 34 walks.

That season he also made his second All Star appearance, although he did not play in the NL's 5-1 win.


Trivia: That season he threw out the Pittsburgh Pirates Mel Queen, running to first base on what was supposed to be a single to right field. 

1953 World Series: In that year's subway series, Furillo tied up Game #1 in the 7th inning with an RBI single, although Brooklyn lost the game 9-5. In Game #2 he had two hits & scored a run in the 4-2 loss. He was hitless in Game #3 & then went 1-4 in the Dodgers Game #4 win. In Game #5 he collected another RBI single.

In Game #6 Furillo hit a two run HR off Allie Reynolds, in the top of the 9th inning, to tie up the game at three. But in the bottom of the 9th, Clem Labine gave up a walk off RBI single to Billy Martin to end the series. Overall Furillo hit .333 with four RBIs. 

In 1954 the Dodgers finished second to the World Champion Giants by five games. Furillo had hit .294 with 19 HRs & 96 RBIs.

1955 Dodgers Championship Season: In 1955 Brooklyn finally won its first Championship. After winning ten pennants & earning the nickname of "dem bums" with the rally cry "wait till next year" it finally was net year! The Dodgers went 98-55 finishing 13.5 games ahead of the Milwaukee Braves.

Furillo batted .314 on the season (7th best in the league). He hit a career high 26 HRs (fourth on with 96 RBIs (both fourth best on his mighty team). It was his third straight 90 plus RBI seasons for himself as well as six of his last seven. He posted a .391 on base % & .891 OPS.

1955 World Series:
In Game #1 of the 1955 World Series, he started out going 3-4 with a HR off Whitey Ford in the 6-5 Dodger loss in the Bronx.

After going hitless in the second game, Ihe had two hits in Game #3, with an RBI double off Tom Morgan, in the Dodgers 8-3 win in Brooklyn. 

He collected three hits over the next two wins at Ebbett's Field. In Game #6 he drove in the only run in the 5-1 Dodger loss as the series went to a game seven.

In Game#7 Johnny Podres shut out the AL New York team with a 2-0 victory. Furillo went 0-3 in the game, as Gil Hodges brought in both runs with an RBI single & sac fly. The Brooklyn Dodgers were World Champs.

Overall, in the series Furillo hit .296 (8-27) with three extra base hits & three walks.

After the championship: The Dodgers followed up with another pennant in 1956 with Furillo
batting .289 with 21 HRs & 83 RBIs. 
That year he & the Dodgers played in the last Brooklyn
World Series.

In the Dodgers 6-3 Game #1 win, Furillo doubled off Whitey Ford in the 2nd inning tying up the game at two. 

He would collect a pair of hits in each of the next two games, then another in the final Game #7 in which Brooklyn lost 9-0.

Final Season in Brooklyn:
The Dodgers played their last season in Brooklyn in 1957. The club fell to last place under manager Walt Alston. Furillo was now 35 years old, he batted .306. with 12 HRs 17 doubles 66 RBIs, a .358 on base % & .819 OPS.

Los Angeles Dodgers:  In the Dodgers first year in sunny L.A. Furillo would play his last season as a regular. In 122 games he batted .290 with 18 HRs & 83 RBIs for the seventh-place club. 

In 1959, he played in just 50 games as he was now in the twilight of his career. He was a reserve outfielder behind Duke Snider, Wally Moon, Don Demeter & Ron Fairly, while also seeing action as a pinch hitter. In 50 games he still batted .290 with 13 RBIs.

1959 World Series: He played in the first Dodgers World Series in Los Angeles seeing action in four games as a pinch hitter. 

In Game #3 of the ’59 Fall Classic, Furillo came to bat with the bases loaded, in a scoreless game in the 7th inning as a pinch hitter. He drove a single up the middle, scoring Charlie Neal & Norm Larker with what were the games winning runs in the 3-1 win. 

The Dodgers won the Series in six games over the Chicago "Go-Go" White Sox.

Controversial Release:
In 1960 he tore his calf muscle after playing in just eight games, at age 38 his career was over as the Dodgers soon released him. He then sued the organization saying they released him to avoid the 15-year higher pension payout, as well as the fact they were avoiding his medical costs. 
He won $21,000 in the settlement but would be black balled from any jobs in baseball after that, although the commissioner’s office denied any charges of him being blacklisted. 

Career Stats: Lifetime in his 15-year career, Furillo hit .299 (211th all time) with 1910 hits 192 HRs 324 doubles 56 triples & 1058 RBIs in 1806 games played. He walked 514 times with a .355 on base % & .813 OPS.

He played 1739 games in the outfield overall. In right field he played 1409 games (36th all time) with a .978 fielding %, 1135 put outs (86th all time) with 151 assists (41st all time) turning 25 double plays (53rd all time).

Post Season Career: Furillo was one of the most popular Brooklyn Dodgers "The Boys of Summer". He & his Dodgers won seven pennants & a Worlds Championship. In 40 World Series games, he batted .266 with 2 HRs 8 doubles & 13 RBIs.

Family: Carl married Fern Reichart also from Reading in 1948. They would have two sons.

Retirement: Furillo would appear at Old Timers events at Shea Stadium. On many occasions he would reunite with his old Brooklyn & L.A. Dodger teammates as well.

After his playing days, in the 1960's Furillo ran a butcher shop in Flushing, Queens. 

He then worked for the Otis Elevator Company, where he was involved in installing elevator shafts for the World Trade Center, when it was being built in the early seventies. 

In the later 1970's he moved back to the Reading, PA area where he grew up.
 
Passing: Furillo developed leukemia in the 1980's & passed away of an apparent heart attack in 1989, at Stony Mill, PA at the age of 66.

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