ANDERSON, Ind. - Since ending his baseball career in 1959, Carl Erskine has made a habit of making baseball fans’ dreams come true.
He has regularly appeared at fantasy camps in Florida where adult Dodgers fans put on the uniform and play on the same hallowed grounds where their heroes spent spring training.
|Daniel Perl, right, grew up in Brooklyn and considered himself Carl Erskine’s biggest fan. Erskine, left, pitched for the Dodgers for 11 seasons.|
He often gives time to young and old fans, regaling them with stories of the 11 seasons he pitched for the Dodgers, first in Brooklyn then in Los Angeles.
A few months ago he did it again. He received a phone call from someone he never met who wanted to come to Anderson to meet him.
“My wife asked me, ‘Do you know this person?’ and I told her I didn’t,” said Erskine. But the caller claimed a special possession that made the meeting even more enticing.
Dr. Daniel Perl grew up in Brooklyn and was 10 years old when his father took him to his first baseball game. The two kept score batter by batter. It was June 19, 1952, at Ebbets Field.
“That’s when I threw a no-hitter against the (Chicago) Cubs," said Erskine.
“I remember the game quite well,” Perl said in a recent telephone interview. “As I grew older, I became his biggest fan. I knew I wanted to meet him, but I got going with my own career.
“Then two years ago, we were moving to Washington (D.C.), and there it was in a drawer with a ticket stub from the game. So I decided I wanted to try and meet him. I was reasonably sure he was still in good health, but I didn’t quite know how to go about it.”
It wouldn’t take long for him to discover a way to make contact. Perl was having lunch with Jane Leavy, who wrote a book about the Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax.
"I told her I wanted to get in contact with Carl, and I told her why," said Perl. "She pulled out her cell phone and called him. Suddenly I was talking to my boyhood idol.”
Eventually a meeting was set. Perl arranged to fly to Indianapolis, then make the drive to the Applebee’s restaurant in Erskine's hometown of Anderson.
“He showed me the scorecard, and I verified that it was right,” said Erskine. “He told me, ‘I want you to have it.’ I told him, ‘You know I can’t take it. This has got your dad’s fingerprints on it. It has to be yours.’”
“Fortunately I was prepared for that,” said Perl. “I had a copy made and I presented it to him.
"He was just wonderful." said Perl. "He is the most gracious person.”
Meetings of this type have become common in the life of Erskine, but this time he took away a keepsake of his own. A little more than 60 years later, he now has his no-hit scorecard.
And Perl has fulfilled his dream.
Quite a fair trade, to be sure.
Rick Teverbaugh writes for The Herald Bulletin in Anderson, Ind.