Carl Erskine was a major league baseball player for the Brooklyn/Los Angles Dodgers and was born in Anderson Indiana and attending Anderson High School.  He was inducted into the Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979 which was the inaugural induction class.  He went in with 15 other inductees including: Coaches Ken Schreiber, Jim Reinebold and "Spider Fields" and players, Mordecai Brown, Gil Hodges and Ed Roush.

Below is an article from the Indy Star illustrating his extraordinary life.

Carl Erskine, Dodgers legend and human rights icon, dies: 'The best guy I've ever known'


Erskine, an Anderson, Ind. native, died a baseball legend who played alongside field icons Jackie Robinson and Gil Hodges. He pitched in five World Series, striking out a then-record 14 in a game in 1953. Erskine, who played for the Dodgers from 1948 to 1959, would become beloved by the fans. They affectionately called him "Oisk" in their Brooklyn accents.

But, to those who knew him best, Erskine was so much more. He was a man who, off the field, fought for what was right in the world. Erskine was a fierce champion of human rights, racial equality and, when his late son Jimmy was born with Down syndrome, became immersed in fighting for people with special needs.

"He was the best guy I've ever known," said filmmaker Ted Green, who produced a documentary on Erskine, "The Best We've Got: The Carl Erskine Story."

Erskine was born at home in 1926, the son of a stay-at-home mom and a father who was a grocery store manager, and later a factory worker. He grew up in what he called a "mixed neighborhood" in Anderson.As a kid, Erskine loved playing basketball and there was a court in a back alley that sat empty waiting for kids who had finished their chores after school or who had gotten up early enough to play as the sun rose. Erskine went there every chance he got.

It was the 1930s in Anderson where, 10 years before, the Ku Klux Klan had a stronghold, as it did across the state and much of the nation. Racism was rampant as Erskine came to that court in 1937, a 10-year-old white boy with nothing to prove. Just to play.

Brooklyn Dodgers' Jackie Robinson (left) and Carl Erskine sign baseballs for fans in 1956.



"And with every societal force pushing Carl in another direction, here on a basketball court in a back alley, he befriends a 9-year-old Johnny," said Green. Johnny was "Jumpin" Johnny Wilson, as he later became known in Anderson, a high school basketball superstar who along with Erskine wowed crowds of more than 5,000 at the Wigwam gym. "I equate getting an (Anderson Indians) uniform my sophomore year to getting a Dodgers uniform," Erskine told IndyStar in 2015. "I'm telling you if you made the Indians (basketball team), you had actually accomplished almost the impossible. I mean, that's the way it seemed. Boy, if you made the Indians, man alive." Erskine and Wilson led the team to the state semifinals in 1944. Anderson lost to Kokomo after Wilson was injured in semistate. "We just couldn't make up that 25 or 30 points Wilson usually scored," Erskine said. "Boy did we have teamwork going for the two of us."

Erskine and Wilson, who was Black, became more than teammates. They became best friends. The two were joined at the hip. They walked to school together every day and hung out after. They played sports together and told each other their deepest secrets.

Erskine didn't realize it at the time, but Wilson would shape his views on race. And later in his life, someone would notice that. Erskine was in the Brooklyn Dodgers locker room when he heard a guy come up behind him, Erskine told IndyStar in 2015.

"Hey Erskine, how come you don't have a problem with this Black and white thing?" The voice belonged to Dodgers teammate Jackie Robinson.

"I said, 'Well, I grew up with Johnny Wilson,'" Erskine recalled. "'I didn't know he was Black. He was my buddy. And so I don't have a problem.'"

Birth of a pitching star

Erskine had been playing baseball his entire life in those days before television and video games. He and his dad would go in the yard and play catch. At age 9, a team asked Erskine to play in the Anderson Parks city league. He pitched on a regular-sized diamond; there wasn't Little League at the time.

When Erskine got to high school, Archie Chad, who coached football, basketball and baseball, called for Erskine to come to the office. "It scared me to death," Erskine said. "What would Mr. Chad want with me?"

Chad told Erskine he wanted him to come out for baseball. But playing the sport that first day didn't come without a little embarrassment.

"I didn't know how to put on a baseball uniform," Erskine said in 2015. "It's got those funny socks and a few things inside you don't see and I didn't know how to put it on. The little shortstop in high school was a guy named Popeye Parker. And I just, without anybody watching me hopefully, I was watching him get dressed. He'd put on a piece and I'd put on piece. He'd put on the next piece. And I'd put on the next piece. And then I got to letter four years in high school."

Erskine quickly made a name for himself as a baseball player in Indiana. Striking kids out. Pitching no-hitters. Being written about in newspapers. He wasn't very big, 5-10 and 165 pounds, but he had an arm. Radar guns weren't around back in those days so Erskine never knew exactly how fast he was throwing in high school. Later, he would get a scouting card from the Dodgers that gave him an A+ for velocity. That A+ meant he was throwing between 92 and 93 miles per hour.

Anderson, Indiana, native Carl Erskine played for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1948 to 1959.



Several major league teams had their eyes on Erskine in high school, "but the Dodgers," Erskine said, "were the team that impressed me the most."

After graduating in 1945, Erskine worked out for the Dodgers at Ebbets Field. He couldn't sign because he had to serve his time in the Navy due to World War II. When the war ended the following year, Erskine signed with the Dodgers at the age of 19. He played a winter season in Cuba and he still remembers what he made -- $325 a month. "That helped me immensely to pitch in what was about like a Triple-A caliber league," he said in 2015. "And I was very young. So, it's kind of a truism in life. If you want to be better at something, do it with people who are better than you are. That helped me a lot."

Robinson was right. Just a dozen games later, Erskine was called up to the Dodgers. When he checked in and went to his locker, Robinson walked up to him. "Jackie said, 'I told you you couldn't miss,'" Erskine said.

First nationally televised no hitter

Robinson, Erskine and their young Dodgers team would add to an exciting era of baseball in Brooklyn. After losing seven consecutive World Series over the years, the franchise won its first title in 1955. The Dodgers were made up of icons from that era: Robinson, Hodges, Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella, Preacher Roe, Duke Snider and Carl Furillo. "We had a team that in my 12 seasons in the big leagues won the National League championship six times," Erskine said in 2015. Erskine became a regular in the team's starting rotation in 1951. In addition to pitching in five World Series, he pitched two no-hitters, the first in 1952 against the Cubs. He also led the National League with 20 wins in 1953.

Erskine pitched the first nationally-televised no-hitter in 1956 against the Giants. It was the Saturday Game of the Week at a time the nation gathered around their televisions to watch. One of those watching that game was Betty, Erskine's high school sweetheart and wife. Erskine's arm had been giving him trouble and she was nervous.

Betty was back home with the kids in Bay Ridge, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, ironing in front of the TV so she could watch the game. "She was ironing a tablecloth. So now I pitch a couple good three innings and she's kind of hesitant to quit ironing the tablecloth because she wants things to keep going good. So she keeps ironing," Erskine said in 2015. "So now about the fifth inning, she finally turns it over and she keeps ironing. So she ironed the same tablecloth for nine innings. She watched every pitch and she never scorched a spot. And I never allowed a hit. That's teamwork."

Carl Erskine, who threw the first pitch ever at Holman Stadium, played the National Anthem on a harmonica before a grapefruit League baseball game against the Houston Astros in Vero Beach .



The Brooklyn era of the Dodgers came to an end in 1958, shocking and saddening a city, when the team announced it would be moving to Los Angeles. Erskine pitched the home opener in in L.A. Dodgers Stadium wasn't built yet, so the team played in a football stadium and 80,000 people were in the stands. "It was a big historic moment for L.A. to have major league baseball," he said. "I did get the win that day against the Giants. And that sort of ties me to L.A. after playing most of my career in Brooklyn. When I go back to L.A., it seems as though the fans accept me as if I played my whole career there. It's pretty neat." Erskine retired from baseball in 1959 and returned to Indiana where he and Betty would raise their three children, Danny, Gary and Susan. One year later, Jimmy was born.

'The crowd would go silent"

Jimmy Erskine was born in 1960 with Down syndrome. It was a time when many doctors told parents that babies with Down syndrome should be sent to an institution, that they would be a societal hindrance, that they would disrupt family life. Erskine and his wife, Betty, ignored what doctors said and they took Jimmy home. They were not going to do what other families had done before. They raised Jimmy just as they did their other three children. "They let him fly. They took Jimmy out with them wherever they went, to church, to restaurants," said Green. "It was always Jimmy was there and if he acted up, he acted up." Just like every other kid acts up. Green says the Erskines blazed a trail for other families with children who had special needs. They showed quietly though their actions how to raise a child with intellectual disabilities.

Carl Erskine, left, with son Jimmy, middle, and Tommy Lasorda.



But Erskine didn't just make life better for Jimmy. He took to another fight, a fight to make lives better for all people with special needs. He was a fierce advocate for educational opportunities and for Special Olympics. "Carl Erskine has helped to affect such massive change through humility, through grace, through human leadership," said Green. "He has spent his lifetime propping up others." At the time Jimmy was born, average life expectancy for babies with Down syndrome was 10 years. Jimmy Erskine would outlive his Down syndrome prognosis by decades and, along the way, became the face of Special Olympics. He died in 2023 at the age of 63.

Whenever Erskine was asked to give a speech as a World Series champ, he would stand at the podium and hold up his World Series ring and tell the audience how much it meant to him. But then, he would always pull from his pocket one of Jimmy's gold medals from the Special Olympics. "You tell me which is the greater achievement," Erskine would say to the audience. "Which of these means more?" "The crowd would go silent," Green said. "Then they would clap, and then the tears would fall."

Funeral arrangements for Erskine are pending.