Bedingfield: Would Korean War casualty Carl Tumlinson have replaced Pee Wee Reese as Dodgers shortstop?

From Gary Bedingfield at on February 21, 2013:

The Dodgers Hall of Fame shortstop, Pee Wee Reese, played his last full season at that position in 1956, aged 37. Charlie Neal (1957) then Don Zimmer (1958) were his immediate replacements. Not until the emergence of Maury Wills in 1960 did the Dodgers have a shortstop who, in any way, resembled the great Pee Wee.

One name that never comes to mind when thinking of Dodger shortstops is Carl Tumlinson. Why? Because Tumlinson never made it to the big league team. Not because he lacked talent – he had that in abundance – but because military service intervened, shattering his hopes and dreams, and ultimately taking his life.

Carl Tumlinson was a big-hitting shortstop at Union High School in Phoenix, Arizona in 1950. Major league scouts were on his trail and he spurned a number of offers to sign with the Brooklyn Dodgers for $6,000 in June. He immediately reported to the Santa Barbara Dodgers of the Class C California State League where the starting shortstop job was his to lose. The youngster didn’t dissapoint, playing 86 games and batting a very respectable .271 with 22 doubles.

In 1951, he was assigned to the Greenwood Dodgers of the Class C Cotton States League, where he proved to be one of the league’s top hitters. On June 24, he hit two home runs, one a grand slam, in a win over Hot Springs, and the Greenville Delta Democrat Times commented that day on how he was gaining on batting leader Jim Gilbert:

“Carl Tumlinson, Greenwood, picked up 13 points in batting during the week ending June 19 and pulled to within 13 points of the Cotton States League leader, Jim Gilbert of Natchez. The Dodger shortstop rapped out 10 hits in 21 times at bat to boost his mace mark to .373, while Gilbert was dropping 11 points to .386 by virtue of only four safeties in 16 tries.”

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Originally published: February 21, 2013. Last Updated: February 21, 2013.