White Sox Icon "Jungle Jim" Rivera Credits Fans

Obviously, this signature is
from a contract. Imagine
finding a “Manuel Rivera”
autograph today!

Imagine…”Jungle Pete” Rose?

After all, he used head-first slides.

However, Jim Rivera did it years before. The Tarzan-like abandon he ran the bases with, combined by his daring acrobatic catches, earned him the nickname from Chicago sportswriters.

But a label isn’t a nickname if no one repeats it. Rivera recalled:

“The nickname ‘Jungle Jim’ stuck on the next day when the fans from Chicago heard it.”

Throughout the 1950s, Rivera remained an American League daredevil, leading the league in triples (1953) and streaking around the basepaths.

The speed and daring made him a defensive darling in Chicago. Although the team fell to the Dodgers in a hard-fought 1959 World Series, Rivera saved Game 5 with an unimaginable catch after entering mid-inniing as a defensive replacement.

Here’s how losing Dodger pitcher Sandy Koufax remembered Rivera:

I asked Rivera: “Your best catch ever?” He answered…

“Yes, the catch I made in the World Series was my best and we won the game, 1-0.”

As if I had any doubt, he concluded:

“Had a great 10 years in the Big Leagues.”

 

White Sox Icon “Jungle Jim” Rivera Credits Fans

Obviously, this signature is
from a contract. Imagine
finding a “Manuel Rivera”
autograph today!

Imagine…”Jungle Pete” Rose?

After all, he used head-first slides.

However, Jim Rivera did it years before. The Tarzan-like abandon he ran the bases with, combined by his daring acrobatic catches, earned him the nickname from Chicago sportswriters.

But a label isn’t a nickname if no one repeats it. Rivera recalled:

“The nickname ‘Jungle Jim’ stuck on the next day when the fans from Chicago heard it.”

Throughout the 1950s, Rivera remained an American League daredevil, leading the league in triples (1953) and streaking around the basepaths.

The speed and daring made him a defensive darling in Chicago. Although the team fell to the Dodgers in a hard-fought 1959 World Series, Rivera saved Game 5 with an unimaginable catch after entering mid-inniing as a defensive replacement.

Here’s how losing Dodger pitcher Sandy Koufax remembered Rivera:

I asked Rivera: “Your best catch ever?” He answered…

“Yes, the catch I made in the World Series was my best and we won the game, 1-0.”

As if I had any doubt, he concluded:

“Had a great 10 years in the Big Leagues.”

 

Dodgers Norm, Larry Sherry Shared A Dream

Courtesy Mark Langill,
Los Angeles Dodgers

Catcher Norm Sherry dared to dream.

Making the majors? Playing (and winning) a World Series?

It’s enough to wish big for yourself. To be a kid who dreams that same dream for someone else — then sees it come true, times two? There’s no baseball statistic able to measure such a victory.

When I wrote to Norm Sherry, the ultimate prize I envisioned for him was sharing those dreams with a special teammate: brother Larry Sherry (Most Valuable Player of the 1959 World Series.)

Sherry confirmed that, writing:

“Being on the same team with my brother was a very big thrill. As kids, we played baseball all the time and always hoped we could some day play in the Big Leagues and be on the same team.”

The ultimate expression of that joy might have occurred on May 7, 1960. Sherry smacked a two-out walk-off homer to give his Dodgers an extra-inning win in front of a grateful home crowd at the Memorial Coliseum. This was Sherry’s first career four-bagger. If that wasn’t enough, the home run gave the victory to his batterymate: brother Larry! (Thanks for the memory, http://www.retrosheet.org/.)

Tomorrow: Sherry shares two good days against one Hall of Famer, then remembers three team owner bosses.

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