James William Gilliam was one of my all-time favorite players. He was not a super-star in any sense of the word. What he was, was a total team player. He put personal accomplishments secondary to the team’s winning. He was a manager’s dream.
He was the fourth Dodger to earn ROY honors. Here is a little flash for anyone who does not realize that all four were Black ballplayers. Robinson, Newcombe, Black and Gilliam. This is of note since not one black player has won the award playing for the Dodgers since, Two Latin players, Valenzuela and Mondesi, are the only non-white players to win it since Gilliam.
Gilliam was noted for his versatility in the field. He could play second, SS, third and the outfield. Over his career he had time at 7 different positions. 3B-1166 games, 2B-767, LF-203, CF-5, RF-29, SS-12, 1B-2. Only missed catching and pitching.
He was a career .265 hitter. He did not have great power, 65 career dingers, but he could steal you a base, and was very unselfish at the plate. He had 114 career sacrifice hits. He was an All-Star twice and walked way more than he struck out.
He was not a spectacular defender, but he was extremely reliable and sometimes would save his pitcher with a great defensive play. He was never really considered the starter at any position in his 14 years with the Dodgers, but still managed to average 146 games a year.
In his last couple of years as an active player, he was a player-coach. His solid play helped them win the 65 and 66 pennants. He is one of the few Dodgers who have four World Series rings.
He was not a stellar World Series hitter. Just .222 in seven series. But he hit .292 in Brooklyn’s 55 win. It is also noted that he was replaced in left field in game 7, and his replacement, Sandy Amoros, made the game saving catch of Berra’s drive to left.
No, he was not what anyone would consider a star player. But he was as important to the Dodgers as any star they had. His uniform number was retired after his death in 1978, just prior to the 78 World Series. His players dedicated the series to his memory.
He was a mentor and friend to his players while he was a coach and he was a career Dodger. Fernando will join him later this season as the only non Hall of Famers to have their number retired by the Dodgers. #19, Jr. Gilliam, now playing third base.
05-04-2023 – MiLB Summary Report
(by Jeff Dominique)
El Paso Chihuahuas (San Diego) 8 – OKC Dodgers 2
William Cuevas was pitching a shutout into the 5th when El Paso got one run back. He allowed a lead off single and walk. Two groundouts scored a run. Andre Jackson relieved Cuevas in the 6th and he had an excellent appearance. He allowed 1 hit in 2.0 innings and registered 3 Ks.
OKC was holding a 2-1 lead going into the bottom of the 8th. Then Alex Vesia came in to relieve Jackson. His first four batters were – double, walk, single, grand slam HR. He got a pop out, and then gave up another HR. 5 ER in 0.1 IP, 4 hits, and 1 BB. Jake Reed relieved Vesia. He got the first batter out, but then gave up a double and issued 2 walks to load the bases. A single scored two more to close the inning. 8th inning totals:
- 7 runs, 6 hits, 3 walks, 1 strikeout, and 2 HR. Methinks Vesia has a lot to work on at OKC. He may be down there a while.
No OKC hitter had more than 1 hit. Luke Williams hit a double for the only XBH.
San Antonio Missions (San Diego) at Tulsa Drillers – Game was rained out and will be played as part of a DH on Friday, May 5.
But there was some excellent news from the Texas League.
Great Lakes Loons 4 – Quad Cities River Bandits (KC) 2
The Great Lakes Loons (15-9) received great outings from the reigning Midwest League Pitcher of the Week Yon Castro, and Minor League Baseball’s saves leader Jake Pilarski in a 4-2 win over the Quad Cities River Bandits (9-14) .
Great Lakes for the third straight game plated a run in the first two innings. Taylor Young doubled to lead off the bottom of the second, would steal third (12), and a throwing error from the catcher resulted in a run.
Castro stranded six River Bandits through five innings.
The fifth saw a leadoff single followed by two strikeouts. A throwing error at shortstop, once again put two on, with Cayden Wallace stepping up. The Royals No. 5 prospect was retired three times by Castro. The fifth closed with the 23-year-old getting his fifth strikeout. Castro has worked the last 10 innings without permitting a run.
The Loons in the sixth got two runs, helped by three walks. Alex Freeland with the bases loaded, rifled the second pitch he saw into right field, making it 3-0.
In the top of the eighth, Cayden Wallace came through in his fourth plate appearance doubling to right-center. Carter Jensen on an 0-2 pitch pulled the River Bandits within one, with a 395-foot homer. Hobbs ended the eighth, leaving a runner aboard.
Yunior Garcia supplied power and insurance in the bottom of the eighth, a high fly ball that stayed fair down the left field line. The blast made it 4-2. The Loons have scored 10 runs in the seventh inning and beyond in the first three games of the series.
In every inning but the first, Quad Cities had runners reach, including loading the bases in the ninth.
In the 9th, Jake Pilarski lost the first batter he faced after a starting up 1-2, the at-bat resulted in a walk. With one out and a 1-2 count, Javier Vaz laced a 99 mph fastball down the left field line for a single and then walked the next batter to load the bases. Pilarski then dialed in, using his change-up to rid Gavin Cross (K) and the heater to beat Carter Jensen (K) to earn his eighth save in nine attempts.
- Yunior Garcia – 2-4, HR (4), 1 RBI
- Alex Freeland – 1-4, 2 RBI
- Austin Gauthier – 1-3 with 2 BB. His OBP continues to shine (.527)
Rancho Cucamonga Quakes at Lake Elsinore Storm (San Diego) – Postponed due to rain. Game to be played as part of a DH on Saturday, May 6