Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Gil McDougald - Reaction to a Hero

Yanks McDougald Didn’t Worry Carl
By DON CARLSON [Vancouver Daily Province, Oct. 12, 1951]
Surprising rise to stardom in the 1951 World Series of New York Yankees’ Gil McDougald, rookie who played for Victoria in the Western International League three years ago, is the big topic of conversation among local sport fans passing post-mortems on the big classic.
“He never gave me much trouble,” said Carl Gunnarson, left-handed pitcher for the Vancouver Capilanos, who knew Gil well and pitched against him on many occasions.
“But he was one fine ball player, and it sure is nice to see him up there,” said Gunnarson, now trainer for the Vancouver Canucks’ hockey team.
R.P. Brown, general manager of the Caps, said McDougald’s series performance proved that “he was a better ball player than a lot of fans in this league gave him credit for being.
“He came to the WIL in his second year of organized ball, and was a fine boy. It is nice to see him given precedence in two positions in the Yankees infield over veterans third baseman Bobby Brown and second baseman Jerry Coleman.”
McDougald’s awkward batting stance is well remembered here. Daily Province columnist Alf Cottrell got to know Gil well when the Victoria club visited here. “He was a quiet, serious fellow,” said Cottrell, “and unlike a lots of young ball players, not at all boastful.”
“Best story I heard about him was when he was sent to Victoria as a green rookie. Victoria manager Ted Norbert snarled to a listener: ‘How do they expect me to win when they send me ball players like that.’”

By Jim Tang

[Victoria Colonist, Oct. 17, 1951]
Baseball men are agreed that Gil McDougald, the one-time Victoria second baseman, has a bright baseball future. Stan Musial rates him as a coming star and Dan Daniel, veteran New York baseball writer who have covered the Yankees for decades, had this to say:
“Whether at second or third base, McDougald made good from the start. He is about as clean a kid as there is in baseball. A manager’s ballplayer if there ever was one.”
McDougald is the discovery of the late Joe Devine, who unearthed many of the good players for the New York club.
McDougald, it is reported, was signed by Devine for $1,500 at a time when he was having difficulty making the baseball team at Commerce High School in San Francisco and was far better known as a coming basketball star.
In the spring of 1947, he was among about 100 other young players sent to Boyes Springs, where four Yankee farm teams—Victoria, Twin Falls, Ventura and Boise—were training.
Ted Norbert, who was the Victoria manager at that time, likes to tell how Yankee officials gave the clubhouse man orders to tell five players not to bother coming back after a Saturday workout. Among the five, Norbert claims, was McDougald.
However, fate intervened. McDougald had left early that day to visit his San Francisco home and missed out on the bad news. He returned Monday morning and was lost among the scores who hoped to be future Yankees. He began to look a little better, stayed around, and was finally shipped off to Twin Falls.
It is a matter of record now that he became the Most Valuable Player of the Pioneer League that season with an average of over .340; that he moved up to Victoria in 1949 to again hit over .340; that he won the Most Valuable Player award in the Texas League and batted .336 the next season, and that he became an immediate fixture in the majors.
A weekend visit to San Francisco in April, 1947, won the American League pennant for the Yankees in 1951. They could have never made it without McDougald and his grand-slam homer in the fifth game was probably the turning point of the recent world series triumph for his club.

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