Clem Labine, Brooklyn Dodger pitcher during the celebrated Boys of Summer era, died today at the age of 80.
According to the Associated Press, Labine had been in a coma at Indian River Medical Center in Vero Beach, Fla. following brain surgery to explore a mass in his head.
Labine was a major leaguer for 13 seasons, eight with Brooklyn and three more with Los Angeles. Although his numbers wouldn’t put him in the Hall of Fame, he lives on in the hearts of all Brooklyn baseball fans as a hero of Dem Bums’ 1955 World Series-winning team.
In the Brooks’ celebrated — and only — win over the hated New York Yankees, Labine pitched in four games of the Series, with a win and a save.
The next year — Brooklyn’s last appearance in the World Series — Labine threw a complete-game shutout against the Yanks, though the Bronx Bombers went on to win the Series.
Two years later, the Dodgers were gone — and the 6-foot Labine went with them to Los Angeles.
In his big league career, Labine was 77-56 with a 3.63 ERA. His best season was that 1955 campaign, when he went 13-5.
Earlier this week, his former teammate, Carl Erskine, told The Brooklyn Paper that Labine had been in the hospital since Feb. 10, shortly after completing a stint as an instructor at an adult “fantasy” camp at the Dodgers’ training camp in Vero Beach.
“He’s gravely ill,” Erskine said by telephone on Tuesday. “The Brooklyn fans should know about Clem’s condition. They may want to pray for him.”
Former Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda, who also played with Labine, told the Associated Press that the hurler never received the recognition he truly deserved.
“He was a great pitcher, but he was surrounded by too many stars,” Lasorda said. “He played the game the way it was supposed to be played. He gave it everything he had, he got along with everyone and everyone loved him.”
— with The Associated Press