SI Vault
 
ONE FOR THE RHODES
Red Smith
October 11, 1954
The redoubtable Giant slugger has ridden blithely through many a dusty situation
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
October 11, 1954

One For The Rhodes

The redoubtable Giant slugger has ridden blithely through many a dusty situation

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2

"THE PITCHER'S GOT TO WORRY"

Rhodes could always swing a bat. He knew that when he was 19 and a scout named Bruce Hayes signed him for Nashville, and he expects enemy pitchers to know it. That's one reason why he's a good pinch batter (he made 45 such appearances for the Giants this season and got 15 hits for an average of .333).

After his first World Series homer, reporters were asking how a fellow felt under the heavy responsibility a pinch batter must shoulder. Did he worry?

"Unh-unh," Rhodes said. "The pitchers got to worry about getting me out."

Starting in the minors in 1947, when he hit .326 for Hopkinsville in the Kitty League, he won a double reputation, as batsman and as a blithe spirit after dark. Because of the former, the Cubs bought title to him for a while; because of the latter, Chicago relinquished its claims.

In 1952 Rhodes was batting .347 for Nashville. He was growing up, a family man of 25 with two sons. The manager in Nashville was the fatherly Larry Gilbert, an understanding man who knows a thing or two about tempering boyish exuberance.

The Giants had a working agreement with Nashville. On Gilbert's recommendation, they paid $25,000 for Rhodes. He has given them no trouble. Pitchers cannot say as much, especially those in Cleveland.

In baseball as in war, a man's reputation follows him around. The Giants' Leo Durocher and Horace Stoneham occasionally hear tales about Rhodes like those Abraham Lincoln heard of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. They make the same answer Lincoln did.

1 2