Tusa: Dusty Rhodes and Armando Ortiz, hidden postseason weapons

From SABR member Alfonso Tusa at The Hardball Times on November 12, 2019:

In clutch situations, Leo Durocher always called on Dusty Rhodes. And while Durocher accused him of being indifferent in the field, Rhodes was the first one to recognize his weaknesses — along with, of course, his strengths. He told The New York World Telegram and Sun in 1954, “I ain’t much of a fielder and I got a pretty lousy arm, but I sure love to whack at that ball.” His accolades during the season and the 1954 World Series ended giving him a picturesque nickname: The Colossus of Rhodes.

In 1954, Rhodes played in 82 games, took 164 at-bats, scored 31 runs, and plated in 50. He slapped 56 hits, seven doubles, three triples, and 15 home runs. He got 18 walks and 25 strikeouts. His batting average: .341. When he appeared in the game as a pinch hitter, he batted .326 — scarcely worse.

Dusty was born James Lamar Rhodes was born in Mathews, Ala., on May 13, 1927. He dropped out of school after eighth grade, working as a cotton picker and as an errand boy in a grocery store. He eventually joined the Navy, and after World War II played semipro baseball in nearby Montgomery. Bruce Hayes, a Southern Association Nashville Vols scout, saw young Jim bash a home run while playing barefoot. He was impressed enough to offer him a contract. A friend of his autographed his mother’s name on the contract because Jim was too young. Hayes began to call Jim “Dusty” because every single player named Rhodes was nicknamed that way.

Read the full article here: https://tht.fangraphs.com/dusty-rhodes-and-armando-ortiz-hidden-weapons/

Originally published: November 14, 2019. Last Updated: November 14, 2019.