Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Jim Brewer photos at the LFP

Mike Brown over at the Left Field Pavilion site has had some fantastic vintage photos up that were obtained from the son of the late Jim Brewer, Dodger standout relief pitcher from 1964-75.  Take a look at them, over a series of three posts: they are quite amazing.   Linked HERE

There are some gems amongst the photos of Sandy Koufax, Davey Lopes, Ron Cey, Manny Mota, Jim Gilliam, Charlie Hough, Mike Marshall, Walter Alston, Jim Gilliam, Jimmy Wynn, Bill Russell, Bill Buckner and Vin Scully.  There are shots of opposing players such as Davey Concepcion, Johnny Bench, and Hank Aaron.  There’s even a Jackie Gleason photo in there from what was likely a Hollywood Stars game.
Jim Brewer died in 1987, the day before his 50th birthday in a head on collision during inclement weather on a east Texas highway.  He was on his way to help out a friend conduct a pitching clinic at Southwest Louisiana University.  Brewer at the time was a minor league pitching instructor in the Dodger organization.

Jim was the all-time Dodger leader in saves at the time of his death.  He put up those numbers before the era of the one-inning save.  A left hander with a nasty screwball, Brewer represented the Dodgers in the 1973 All Star Game in Kansas City where he recorded the save in his inning of work, striking out Thurman Munson and Willie Horton to end the game.
Rob Neyer tells the story of how former Dodger G.M. Buzzie Bavasi, newly named the General Manager of the expansion San Diego Padres, begged the Dodgers to protect Jim Brewer.  Bavasi knew he would have to select him in the expansion draft. 
At the time, Fresco Thompson, the Dodgers G.M., was dying in the hospital, so Walter O’Malley asked Bavasi to stay on a few more days as the Dodger G.M.  What resulted was a conflict of interest to the Nth degree.  Buzzie was quoted as saying that he went to visit Thompson in the hospital and Fresco asked him outright who he planned to select from the Dodgers in the expansion draft.

Former Dodger Executive, Buzzie Bavasi
Bavasi didn’t hesitate.  He told the Dodger G.M. he was going to take  Bill Russell and Jim Brewer.  At that point Thompson begged Bavasi to not take Russell, because he was a fine prospect which was exactly why he wanted him.  Bavasi told Fresco that he better protect Brewer then, because he would be crucified if he passed on him too.  He added that he could pass on Russell, because hardlly anybody knew anything about the young 19 year- old outfielder.  
So in the end, the Dodgers protected Brewer, and Bavasi kept his loyalty to the Dodgers and promise to a dying man, and he didn’t select Bill Russell in the draft.  In the end the Padres picked  Al “The Bull” Ferrera, Jim Williams and Zoilo Versalles from the Dodgers.  For the remainder of Jim Brewer’s Dodger career, he was their standout closer where he put up ERAs from 1969-74 of: 2.55, 3.13, 1.88, 1.26, 3.01 and 2.52.
A little known story about Jim Brewer dates back to 1960, his rookie year with the Cubs.  Jim was a wild hard throwing lefty that had difficulty finding the strike zone.  On August 4th, the Cubs were playing the Cincinnati Reds and veteran Billy Martin came to the plate.  Brewer let loose a fastball that came too close to Martin’s head.  The next pitch, Martin swung and let his bat fly in the process towards the pitchers mound.  The young rookie picked up the bat and as he was about to hand it back to Martin, words were exchanged.  The end result was that Martin clocked Brewer in the face with a punch, breaking his cheekbone and ending his season.

Billy Martin of the Reds punches Chicago Cub rookie Jim Brewer in the face, fracturing his cheekbone in the process
It took 9 years, but eventually a jury trial decided the fate of Martin in this case.  Brewer asked for $1 million, but was awarded $10,000.  It was said that Jim never fully recovered from the broken bones in his face.  Martin later said in his autobiography that the attack on Brewer stemmed from a serious beaning he received the year before that nearly ended his career while he played for Cleveland.  

In 1975, at age 37, Jim Brewer was traded by the Dodgers to the Angels for David Sells, a player that only lasted 5 games in the Dodgers organization.  With the trade ended a stellar Dodger career of a player that was as consistent as any pitcher they ever had.   Brewer never had an ERA over 3.68.  He was the “go to” guy in the last innings and he performed remarkably well in that role.  Here's a little known fact:  Jim was the perfect example of  a team player.  In 1967, when the Dodgers were in a tough spot following the retirement of Sandy Koufax, Brewer stepped in and spot started 11 times and did remarkably well in that role too.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for letting me know about the pictures on the LF Pavilion blog. They were great. Many of which I never seen or had before.