Jews In Sports: Exhibit Page @ Virtual Museum

Harold U. Ribalow and Meir Z. Ribalow
Page 98 of 290

Jewish Baseball Stars

was benched a few days after the race started. It seemed that Ott was interested in seeing how his rookies could play, for with a cellar team in 1946, he was anxious to discover new talent. But soon he returned Gordon to the outfield. Sid was ostensibly filling in for Whitey Lockman, a highly-touted rookie at the time, who had broken a leg in spring training and was due back in July. Lockman did not make it; but even if he had, it was doubtful if he could have displaced Gordon, for Sid had become a master at outfield play in the Polo Grounds, having learned to play the rebounds like Mel Ott himself. He hit .272 and hit thirteen home runs, an immense improvement over the five he hit the previous year.

It was in 1948, however, that Gordon really bloomed, and thanks were due to a Giant coach named Red Kress. Kress noticed, in spring training, that Gordon, who was powerfully built, could improve himself by pulling the ball to left field. This was how Gordon related the change that led him from a total of thirteen home runs to thirty in one season:

"Before 1948 I could hit a fairly long ball but it always went to right or right-center. At the Polo Grounds right-center is just a big out. Red Kress, a coach on the Giants, used to get me to pull the ball to left. He started out by moving my right-hand grip on the bat around a little and he opened up my stance - I now put my left foot toward third when I hit. I learned to roll my wrists more and to step into the ball. Pretty soon I was dropping them in left. Red spent hours working with me on it. I can't give him enough credit."

But when the 1948 season began, Gordon had a tough time breaking into the Giant starting lineup. But after the