From: Palin'sHotHeinie on
The New York Times

July 27, 2010
Billy Loes, Quirky Pitcher for Dodgers, Dies at 80

Billy Loes, a leading pitcher for three pennant-winning Brooklyn
Dodgers teams of the 1950s with an image as an eccentric that seemed a
perfect fit for a franchise long known for its colorful characters,
died July 15 at a hospice in Tucson. He was 80.

His death was confirmed by his wife, Irene, who said he had diabetes
for many years.

In his four best years with the Dodgers, from 1952 through their World
Series championship season of 1955, Loes, a right-hander from Queens,
won 50 games and lost 25. His best season was 1952, when he was 13-8
with four shutouts and a 2.69 earned run average.

When the Dodgers faced the Yankees in the 1952 World Series, Loes
became a modern-day incarnation of the Dodgers’ Daffiness Boys of the
1920s, when they once had three men on third base at the same time.

On the eve of the 1952 Series, Loes was asked how the Dodgers would
fare. He picked the Yankees to win in six games.

Then came Loes’s misadventures in Game 6, at Ebbets Field.

Pitching in the seventh inning with a 1-0 lead, Loes gave up a home
run by Yogi Berra and a single by Gene Woodling. Then he balked by
letting the baseball slip from his hand while he was on the pitching
rubber, sending Woodling to second base. With two out, Vic Raschi, the
Yankees’ starting pitcher, hit a ball off Loes’s leg, and it caromed
into right field for a single, scoring Woodling. The Yankees went on
to a 3-2 victory, tying the Series at three games apiece.

Afterward, Loes had an explanation for failing to snare Raschi’s
comebacker: he said he had lost the ground ball in the sun.

The Yankees won the World Series the next day.

The aura of Loes the loopy Brooklyn Dodger gained national exposure
with an August 1953 article by Jimmy Breslin in The Saturday Evening
Post titled “The Dodgers’ New Daffiness Boy.” But the article pointed
out that Loes was possessed of a basic shrewdness, having talked the
Dodgers’ famously penurious general manager, Branch Rickey, into
signing him to a $21,000 bonus in 1948 when he was just out of high

As for that World Series prediction, Loes was quoted in the article as
saying the news media did not get it exactly right: “I never told that
guy the Yanks would win it in six. I said they’d win it in
seven.” (Which they did.)

As for losing the grounder in the sun, Loes’s explanation was backed
up by his fellow Dodger pitcher Carl Erskine, who told Peter Golenbock
in his 2000 oral history “Bums” that the sun peeked through from
between the two decks behind home plate for a few minutes on October
afternoons at Ebbets Field.

“When Loes said he lost it in the sun everybody laughed, and the fact
is, if you ever pitched in Ebbets Field, you know that’s possible in
October with a ball that’s hit with a little bounce on it,” Erskine

William Loes was born on Dec. 13, 1929, in Queens and became a star
pitcher there for Bryant High School. He made his debut with the
Dodgers in 1950, then rejoined them in 1952 after serving in the Army.

He was sold to the Baltimore Orioles during the 1956 season and
pitched for the American League in the 1957 All-Star Game. He pitched
for the San Francisco Giants in his last two major league seasons and
retired after 11 seasons with an 80-63 record.

His wife, Irene, of Chapel Hill, N.C., from whom he was separated, is
his only survivor.

Over the years, Loes’s reputation for making strange comments grew. He
was said to have expressed little ambition to be a 20-game winner,
figuring management would always expect him to reach that milestone.

Asked about his flaky aura in the sports pages, Loes told The New York
Times in 1957, “When they asked me a question, I answered them

“But most of them turned it around because they knew it would make
better copy that way. It got to the point where I told a few writers,
‘Go ahead, write what you want about me and say I said it. You’ve been
doing it right along anyway.’ ”
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