George Shuba, former Brooklyn Dodger, dead at 89
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) — George “Shotgun” Shuba, a member of the 1955 World Series champion Brooklyn Dodgers who was best known for offering a congratulatory handshake to minor league teammate Jackie Robinson, died Monday. He was 89.
The Los Angeles Dodgers said Shuba died at his home in Youngstown, Ohio. No cause of death was given.
Shuba, who was white, congratulated his teammate on the Montreal Royals near home plate after Robinson hit a three-run homer on April 18, 1946, off Jersey City Giants pitcher Warren Sandell. The moment shared by a smiling Robinson and Shuba was captured in a famous photograph and dubbed “A Handshake for the Century.”
Shuba reportedly hung a copy in his living room.
Robinson went on to break major league baseball’s color barrier when he started at first base for Brooklyn on April 15, 1947.
Shuba had a .259 career batting average with 24 homers and 125 RBIs in 355 games as a utility outfielder with the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1948-55. The left-handed hitter was the first National League pinch hitter to homer in the World Series, connecting in Game 1 against the New York Yankees in 1953.
The Dodgers said Shuba earned his nickname after someone compared his line drives with the sound of buckshot. His career was featured in a chapter of Roger Kahn’s book, “The Boys of Summer,” a tribute to the 1950s Brooklyn Dodgers.
Shuba appeared at Dodger Stadium in 2005 when the club marked the 50th anniversary of its only championship in Brooklyn. He was joined by Carl Erskine, Roger Craig, Don Newcombe, Johnny Podres, Clem Labine, Sandy Koufax, Don Zimmer, Tom Lasorda and Duke Snider.
Born on Dec. 13, 1924, in Youngstown, Shuba was the youngest of 10 children whose parents were Czechoslovak immigrants.
He practiced his swing for hours with a rope tied to the ceiling, making knots in the rope where the strike zone would be. He swung a bat at the rope, helping to develop the powerful swing that later produced line drives in the major leagues.
Shuba is survived by his wife, Kathryn; a son, Michael; daughters Marlene and Marykay; and a sister, Helen.
Services were pending.