Carl Eriksine dead: Dodgers icon dies aged 97 as fans pay tribute to last member of ‘boys of summer’

Carl Erskine has died aged 97Carl Erskine has died aged 97
Carl Erskine has died aged 97
Carl Erskine was a key member of the much celebrated Brooklyn Dodgers team of the 1940s and 1950s

Baseball legend Carl Erskine has died at the age of 97. His death was confirmed by Community Hospital Anderson in Anderson, Indiana on Tuesday 16 April.

The death was also confirmed by Ted Green, a filmmaker who directed a 2022 documentary on Mr. Erskine, “The Best We’ve Got.” The cause was related to pneumonia, Green said.

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Erskine, a standout pitcher, was the last of the “Boys of Summer,” the much celebrated Brooklyn Dodgers team of the 1940s and 1950s that broke baseball’s racial barrier with Jackie Robinson. Erskine spent his entire major league career with the Dodgers from 1948-59, helping them win five National League pennants as they overcame a reputation for being lovable losers in an era which had previously been dominated by their crosstown rivals, the New York Yankees.

Erskine was the last survivor of the 13 Dodger players of his time who were profiled by Roger Kahn in his 1972 book, “The Boys of Summer,” telling of their exploits on the field and the lives they led when their baseball years had ended.

Carl Erskine was famous for his friendship with his black baseball player Jackie Robinson. Given Erskine's upbringing and his desire for racial equality, he never hesitated to support Robinson, who battled bitter racism and social injustices after breaking the game's colour barrier in 1947.

Erskine recalled in a later interview: "I had a lot of good buddies growing up, Black kids in my neighborhood, and I never had any problem at all with that. 

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“Jackie asked me one day, 'How come you don't have any problem with this black and white thing?' I said, 'My best friend growing up, from 10 years old on, was Johnny Wilson, a Black young man in my neighborhood. So that never was an issue with me, and it never will be.'"

Away from baseball, Erskine dedicated his life to fighting for human rights, especially serving as an important voice for educational opportunities and for the Special Olympics.

That passion for Erskine grew once his son, Jimmy, was born with Down Syndrome. Jimmy was given a short life expectancy, but would go on to live until 2023, dying at the age of 63.

A number of people from the Baseball world have paid tribute to Erskine on social media. 

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The Los Angeles Dodgers tweeted: “The Dodgers mourn the passing of one of the team’s all-time greats, Carl Erskine, at the age of 97. Carl was an All-Star, a World Series Champion, a true ally to Jackie Robinson and more in the pursuit of equality, and a pioneering advocate for those with special needs, inspired by his son, Jimmy. We send our sincere sympathies and best wishes to his family.”

One fan commented: “Thoughts and prayers with the Erskine family. He's reunited with all those great Brooklyn Dodger players again.”

Another added: “A legend on the field and a champion for equality and inclusion off it - Carl Erskine's legacy will forever inspire generations to come.”

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