Harry Henry Reese also known as “Pee Wee” Reese was born on July 23rd, 1918 in Ekron, Kentucky. Most people believe that his nickname comes from his size or height. The truth is at a young age Harry Reese was a champion marble player. His nickname comes from the term pee wee that is used to describe a small marble. At the age of 8 his family moved to Louisville. It is here that Harry grew up and went to school. He graduated from duPont Manual High School in 1937.
Reese’s baseball career started in 1938 when he signed with the American Association’s Louisville Colonels. His performance in the minor league did not go unnoticed. Pee Wee Reese was signed up to the Boston Red Sox organization but before he had a chance to play for the team he was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers. It was rumored at the time that Joe Cronin who was the manager and played shortstop for Red Sox did not want to give up his position to the better player. It was Cronin who convinced the owners to trade Reese.
In 1940 Pee Wee Reese played his first professional baseball game as a Brooklyn Dodger under the tutelage of the late great coach, Leo Durocher. Durocher, who also played shortstop, recognized the talent of this young player and for the good of his team stepped aside and let Pee Wee take over his position.
Pee Wee Reese’s career began with the Brooklyn Dodgers and ended with the Los Angeles Dodgers on September, 26th, 1958. His career statistics were 126 home runs, 885 runs batted in and a batting average of.269. He was also a 10 time All-Star selection, 2 time World Series champion, received the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award. His #1 team shirt was retired by the L.A. Dodgers and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984.
It should also be noted that Reese was a staunch supporter of Jackie Robinson who was the first black major league baseball player. His friendship and camaraderie with Robinson is depicted in a bronze statue of the two men with Reese’s arm around Robinson’s shoulder. This sign of friendship between the two occurred at a game in 1947 in Cincinnati when Robinson was being heckled by hostile baseball fans. Reese who was captain of the Dodgers team at the time walked out onto the field and put his arm around his teammate’s shoulder that brought the crowd to silence.
After Reese left baseball he began a career in broadcasting major league baseball games from 1960 to 1970. Harry Henry “Pee Wee” Reese died of lung cancer on August 14th, 1999 at the age of 81.
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