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Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

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Dwyane Hickman to star in 'Dobie Gillis,' Dodger Pee Wee Reese retires, December 19, 1958

1958_1219_television

Hedda Hopper announces that Dwyane Hickman is leaving the "Bob Cummings Show" to star in "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis," one of the biggest hits of the 1950s and early '60s. At left, a clip of Hickman with Bob Denver as Maynard G. Krebs and guest star Barbara Bain. The series also featured Sheila Kuehl, the first openly gay person elected to the California Legislature.

1958_1219_sports I couldn't help but wonder reading The Times' story about Pee Wee Reese retiring from the Dodgers. How much bigger a story would it have been a year earlier in Brooklyn?

Reese was one of the veteran Dodgers who came with the team to Los Angeles in 1958. He clearly was not the same player who was a perennial all-star during his tenure as the Boys of Summer's shortstop. Reese played only 59 games for the Dodgers in 1958, hitting .224.

The retirement story led the sports section, but it just didn't seem like enough of a send-off. Even the headline, "Reese Finally Retires," missed the marked. Finally?

"He could have remained on the active roster of another big league club but the Dodgers, in rebuilding, must make room for another youngster," general manager Buzzie Bavasi told The Times. "That's baseball." Reese stayed with the Dodgers as a coach, a logical step for a player long praised for his leadership skills.

"A boy has more self-respect
when he's clean-shaved."
"He was the heart and soul of the Boys of Summer," Vin Scully was quoted as saying in Reese's 1999 Times obituary. "He was the rare man who had the voice of authority and was still loved by his teammates."

Reese played a key role in helping Jackie Robinson when he joined the Dodgers in 1947. Tot Holmes, a baseball historian, recounted an incident in Cincinnati when the Dodgers were on the field and Robinson was being verbally abused.

"Reese had enough of the abuse, called time and walked over to Robinson and simply put his hand on his shoulder," Holmes said in Reese's obituary. "Eyewitnesses said the crowd quieted as if a lightning bolt had struck."

Reese, whose full name was Harold Henry, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984. 

--Keith Thursby

 
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