Bob Kuzava pitched just four years for the Yankees. The Brooklyn Dodgers must have thought the lefty would be there haunting them for decades.
The reliever earned seventh-game World Series game saves in 1951 AND 1952, guaranteeing the Yanks consecutive championships. Teammates called Kuzava “Sarge,” out of respect for the position he rose to during three years of military service during World War II.
That wasn’t Kuzava’s only nickname. He wrote:
“John Pesky hit a slow ground back to me, and instead of swearing at me, he said, “You White Rat!” It broke up both benches.”
(Years later, Pesky would encounter a rookie named Dorrell Everett Herzog. Thinking he looked like Kuzava, Pesky loaned “The White Rat” nickname. Soon, Herzog was named “Whitey,” on his way to a Hall of Fame managerial career.)
“Sarge” found immediate success in the majors after the war ended. He added:
“I was 3 years in the Army, and no baseball. Too hot in India and Burma. Was happy at New York and think I did a good job for them.
Yours in baseball,
Bob Kuzava, New York Yankees, 1951-54″
Kuzava’s relief artistry has been apppreciated beyond the realm of Yankees fans. In 2003, he was enshrined in the Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame.