Mar 7, 2021

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

 Carl Anthony Furillo was born March 8th 1922 in Stony Creek Mills, Pennsylvania. The strong six foot, right handed Furillo, grew up four miles outside of Reading Pennsylvania and played on their local baseball team. 

Furillo threw hard with a strong throwing arm, earning him the nickname “The Reading Rifle”.  

At the start, his coaches tried to convert him to a pitcher, but he was too wild & it was dangerous for hitters to stand in at the plate against him. 

After serving military service in World War II he got to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1946 at the age 24.

Brooklyn Dodgers Career:
In his rookie year he took over as the Dodgers right fielder, hitting .284 with three HRs 18 doubles, six triples, 35 RBIs & a .346 on base % in 117 games. 

The next year, he was batting .295 and developed into one of the leagues top hitters, winning a batting title & finishing in the leagues top ten five times in average. He would bat over .300 five times & would hit over the .290 mark, a total of eleven times in a fifteen year career. 

Furillo played in seven World Series while making two All Star teams as well. 

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

1947 World Series:
In his first World Series he hit .353 going 6-21 with two doubles & three RBIs. In the Game 31 loss, he had a hot an an RBI. In Game #3 at Brooklyn, he doubled home two runs off NY pitcher, Bobo Newsome, in the Dodgers six run, second inning. 

Brooklyn won the game 9-8. After going hitless in the next two games, he collected three hits in the final two.

In 1949, Furillo batted .322 (4th best in the NL) with 27 doubles 18 HRs 95 runs scored (9th in the
NL) & a career high 106 RBIs (7th most in the NL). He would match that high the next year as well.

1949 World Series: In this subway series rematch, Furillo played in just three games, going 1-8.

In 1951 he led the league in games (158) plate appearances (724) & At bats (667). He collected a career high 197 hits, batted .295 with 32 doubles & 93 runs scored. That year the Dodgers lost a big first place lead to their rival, New York Giants. In the three game playoff series, he went hitless.

The next season he was limited to 134 games & his average fell to a career low .247. That year he made his first All Star team anyway. He was having troubles with his eyes & had cataracts surgery in the off season.

1952 World Series: After two seasons, the Dodgers returned to the World Series in 1952 for a seven game classic. Furillo collected a hit in each game from Game #4 through Game #7.

In Game #5 he made a spectacular catch, reaching over the fence robbing Johnny Mize of a game tying HR in the 11th inning. The Dodgers won the game & went back to Ebbetts 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) 

That off season surgery, helped his eyes & he returned to have his best season. In the Dodgers 1953 pennant season, he had one of his best seasons, winning the NL batting title hitting .344.

Also in 1953 he had career highs in doubles (38) & on base % (.393). He hit 21 HRs with 92 RBIs while scoring 90 runs for the first of three straight seasons.

 He won the batting title even though his season was cut short due to an injury, as he played in 132 games that season. He also made his second All Star appearance.

Dodgers - Giants Rivalry: The famous Dodgers Giants rivalry heated up on many occasions. There were two important incidents that centered around Furillo.

In 1950 after belting a pair of HRs in a game against the Giants, Pitcher Sheldon Jones, hit Furillo with a pitch in the head just above the ear. He was carried off the field on a stretcher. That night Jones visited him in the hospital & told him that manager Leo Durocher, 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. He went after manager Leo Durocher, who had a reputation for calling pitches like that. 

A brawl broke out & the benches cleared, as punches were thrown. In the ruckus, Furillo’s hand got stepped on causing him to miss the rest of the season. Furillo later said of the rivalry “We hated the Giants, I just hated that uniform”.

In his career, he was never really considered a power hitter, but Furillo did hit 18 or more HRs five separate seasons. He had two 100 plus RBI seasons driving in over 90 runs, six different times on some very talented Dodger teams. Furillo also had four seasons of with 30 plus doubles as well as three seasons of 90 plus runs scored.

The one thing he did not do well, was run. His slow running, earned him the name “skoonj” short for scungilli, which is a slow snail like sea creature that taste pretty good in a fradiavlo sauce. 

His slow running led him to hit into 207 career double plays (93rd most all time). In 1956 he led
the league in that category with 27.


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”. Not many suits were won with Furillo near the sign, as very few balls ever got passed him. 

The Reading Rifle would have ten or more outfield assists for nine straight seasons, finishing first or second in put outs six different times. 

Trivia: In 1953 he threw out the Pittsburgh Pirates Mel Queen, running to first base on what looked like a sure single. 

The Reading Rifle, led the league twice in assists (1950 & 1951) & was in the top three in fielding four times as well. He would end his career with 151 outfield assists, and a .979 fielding percentage. He turned 34 double plays, and only made 74 errors in 1739 games played.

1953 World Series: In the 1953 version of the subway series, Furillo began with an RBI base hitin the Game #1 loss in the Bronx. He had two hits then next day, then another hit in both Games Four & Five. 

In Game #6 Furillo hit a two run HR off Allie Reynolds, in the top of the 9th inning, to tie up the game. In the bottom of the 9th Clem Labine served up a walk & two hits as Brooklyn lost another series. Overall he hit .333 with four RBIs in that Series. 

1955 Dodgers Championship Season: Furillo was a member of Brooklyn’s 1955 Championship team, batting .314 on the season (7th best in the league). He hit a career high 26 HRs (fourth on his team) driving in 96 runs (also fourth on the team), making it three straight 90 plus RBI seasons for himself. That season he posted a .391 on base % as well as coming in second in the league in fielding.

1955 World Series: In the '55 World Series he started out going 3-4 in Game #1 with a HR off Whitey Ford and two runs scored in the Bronx.

In Game #3 he had two hits with an RBI double off Tom Morgan, in the Dodgers 8-3 win in Brooklyn. 

Furillo hit safely in four straight games and went 0-3 with a walk in Game #7. In that Game Johnny Podres shut out the hated AL New York team to give Brooklyn it's first Championship.

Overall he hit .296 (8-27) with three extra base hits & three walks in the World Series.

After the championship, he batted .289 with 21 HRs & 83 RBIs. He played in the last Brooklyn
World Series in 1956, batting .240 & driving in a run.

The Dodgers played their last season in Brooklyn in 1957. The club fell to last place under manager Walt Alston. Furillo now 35 years old, batted .306.

After Brooklyn onto California: In 1959, he played in just 50 games as he was in the twilight of his career. He was a reserve outfielder behind Duke Snider, Wally Moon, Don Demeter & Ron Fairly, also seeing action as a pinch hitter. 

1959 World Series:
 
He played in the first Dodger World Series in Los Angeles in 1959. 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 winning runs.

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. The commissioner’s office denied any charges of him being black listed. 

Career: 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. In right field he played 1739 games (98th all time) with a .978 fielding % (87th all time) with 1135 put outs (86th all time).

Family: Carl & his wife Fern had two sons.

Retirement: Furillo would appear at Old Timers events at Shea Stadium. On occasion he would reunite with his old Dodger team mates.

Furillo ran a butcher shop in Flushing, Queens during the sixties. 

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

He moved back to the Reading, PA area in the late seventies and developed leukemia. 

Passing: Carl Furillo passed away in 1989 of an apparent heart attack, in Stony Mill, PA at the age of 66.

No comments: