Who is the greatest Dodgers player of all time? Would it be the Dodger who has had the greatest historical impact such as Jackie Robinson? Would it be an all time stat leader like Zack Wheat, the all time hit leader with 2,804? Or should it be a player who had the greatest contribution to a World Series winning team?

From the Dodgers’ 6 world championships, there were many players instrumental in each of those years success. The first championship would likely not have happened without the Duke. Duke Snider hit 4 home runs, knocked in 7, and batted .320 over those 7-days when all the Baseball eyes were locked on the activities taking place in New York City. Dodgers’ reliever Larry Sherry is not in the Hall Of Fame but in 1959 he had a series of mythological proportions, winning 2 and saving the other 2 of the 4 total games required to win the title. The glories of ’63 & ’65 can be summarized with 2 names that when spoken in unison carries a special poetic beauty…Koufax and Drysdale. In 1981 Pedro Guerrero drove in 5 runs in the series clinching game 6 of the 1981 Fall Classic. In 1988, Kirk Gibson’s game-1 heroics aside, Oral Hershiser’s 2 complete game wins, 1.00 ERA, 17 strikeout performance was a greater contribution to that last (sad to say) World Championship.

All are worthy candidates; all are Dodgers greats, but not my choice. I would like to recommend one other candidate for the all time greatest Dodgers player- Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez, a true Baseball legend. Heroes get remembered, but legends never die. Here’s my campaign for Benny, furthering the life of the legend.

Even as a kid, for most baseball is a game, but for Benjamin Franklin Rodriguez, baseball was life. It was on a sun drenched summer day in 1962 when Benny, then a young man sporting a pair of PF Flyers, first achieved his legendary status. Growing up to play for the home town Dodgers, Benny’s career was in its waning days when on a fateful sun drenched summer day, he was inserted as a pinch-runner poised a mere 90-feet from home plate and a valiant Dodgers victory. Many felt that Benny had lost a step by this time. The Giants must have surely doubted his ability to transcend the limitations of age, even despite the will of a man fueled by a true Dodger-blue heart. No one noticed as the Jet started edging further and further down the line attaining a suicide lead, when he suddenly broke into a full gallop. Benny tore across the plate as the slow reacting Giants were unable to prevent the run from the unexpected mad dash from third. On that play, the aged ballplayer who as a boy once pickled a legendary giant gorilla-dog-thing known as the Beast, stole home. For that moment, embodying the eternal spirit of youth that forms a bond with the game that stays a love immortal, Benjamin Franklin Rodriguez is my vote for greatest Dodger of all. May we never forget the true spirit of the game so that even in our final days of darkest winter, the spirit of baseball will continue to nourish our souls making us all eternally boys of summer.


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