I grew up when Don Hoak was a major league baseball player. When he got traded to
the Phillies, I would go to Connie Mack Stadium and just watch him at third base. He
was such a major influence on my ball playing and personnel life. Although I'm now
70, when I get a shirt with a number or do my fabric art work, all my jerseys have
Number 12. I'll always be Number 12. My competitive life also was governed by Don's
example. So many people ask me who my favorite player is or was. Without
hesitation it's Don Hoak. Many never heard of him, but he'll always be the one I
admire most. I got to this site going to Jill Corey's. I wanted to hear "Love me to
Pieces." I'll remember that song forever, too.
Hammonton, New Jersey
February 15, 2015
Note: Tom followed up with the news that a visit to a friend
in Florida shortly after his e-mail to us resulted in his receiving these
classic baseball cards featuring his favorite player:
To Miss Jill and Don Hoak Fans:
did grow up in Roulette [Pennsylvania]. I had to do some searching,
but I found that my foster mother and I watched over Autumn and Brooke,
Don Hoak's granddaughters, daughters of Kim [Hoak] Goodrich,
when she [Kim] got in a little late on the bus.
Dear Ms. Corey:
I took my 13-year-old son Eddie to his first game of the season at Amity Little League in Brooklyn this morning. Because he plays, I coach, and as a coach, I need to bring a baseball glove to the games to warm up pitchers, play long toss with the outfielders, etc. So I brought my favorite glove, which I bought a long time ago at Friedman's Sporting Goods on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. It is a Wilson Major League Model A2905, Nylon Stitched, Made in USA, with a Grip-Tite Pocket, Snap-Action hinge, Pat. No 2231204, licensed under U.S. Pat No. 2722007. You might have guessed already that it is a Don Hoak Autograph Model. I cannot remember exactly when I bought it, but it was sometime between 1957 and 1960 (so I was somewhere between 10 and 13). I was a huge Brooklyn Dodger fan, and I remember just how crazy everyone in Brooklyn went in October of 1955; it was unlike any other time I can ever remember. I was also definitely rooting for the Pirates in the 1960 series. I've never acquired any single item in my life that gave me as much pleasure as this glove. I used to play ball with it for hours and hours a day back when I simulated baseball games by throwing a ball against the side of my house and later, when I played stickball in the P.S. 134 playground or softball in various summer camps. The only mistake I ever made involving the glove was lending it to my friend Louis, when he was a Little League coach in the early 1990's. The acids produced by his hands ate somewhat into the soft leather inside the glove.
Having just used the glove again this morning, it occurred to me to look up the statistics of your late husband's baseball career on one of the baseball statistics internet sites, and then on Wikipedia, which is where I found a link to your website. Having read your online biographical information, I was also surprised at the following coincidence: I am in the middle of reading "Frank: The Voice," a biography of Sinatra by James Kaplan. I am
currently reading about the early '50's, a time when Mitch Miller figured greatly in Sinatra's life. So the links mentioned on the websites between you and Miller and you and Sinatra are interesting.
At any rate, I thought you might find it interesting that something associated with Don Hoak was still giving pleasure to someone in Brooklyn 56 years after the Dodgers were our Woild Champs. And I hope you and Don got some decent royalties from Wilson. Thankl you for taking the time to read my reminiscences.
Brooklyn, New York
April 9, 2011
looking around the web, and I found this page. I live in Erie now,
but I graduated in Port Allegany. I was a foster child who resided
with Andy and Betty Jean Kulp. I am a Bucco fan, and I wanted
to share with you a picture autographed by Maz [Bill Mazeroski] and Don
that was given to me when I was 10.
I want to get in touch with Jill to relate a story to her that she may not be aware of. Let's just say for now that the story has to do with Don Hoak's literally saving my life in August of 1960. I was sitting in the bleachers during batting practice when a screaming line drive off the bat of Dick Stuart struck me directly in the right temple. Hoak immediately came to my aid, had someone call the paramedics, and he personally took me to the Montifore Hospital emergency room in Oakland, where I lay in coma for 40 days. He even missed that night's game to stay with me in the hospital. Hoak was even there when I came out of the coma. Needless to say, HE SAVED MY LIFE! If not for him, I would not be here.
Editor's Note: We put Rick in touch with Jill, and he has since delivered his story to her personally via telephone. Rick is a former member of the Lettermen and the Delmonics vocal groups. He is still active in the recording studio, and Rick just completed a month of personal appearances.
George Schroeder, the person who sent you the scrapbook on Don. Recently took a trip to Cooperstown, N.Y., and visited the Hall Of Fame. On the way up I stopped at Roulette and visited Don's grave. At age 64, he's still the best influence I ever had. I cherish the pictures I have of him and the little note he sent me when he played for the Pirates. Purchased a picture of the '55 Dodgers with Don, John Podres, and Roy Campanella celebrating the final out of the '55 World Series at Yankee Stadium. Larry King Live recently said that was the greatest moment ever at Yankee Stadium. Recently had many talks with Dick Groat, and he loved Don Hoak. Thanks again for sending me the card and baseball cards of Don.
September 23, 2008
Editor's Note: Writer George Schroeder has kindly provided the following pictures taken while he visited the grave site of Don Hoak in Roulette, Pennsylvania.
I met Don Hoak in the hospital at Coudersport, Pennsylvania. He was asked to visit me by my mother who knew that my aunt from Roulette, Pennsylvania had taught him in school. We spent a wonderful hour together talking about baseball, hunting and fishing. He autographed a baseball for me, and on another occasion he signed a Pirates Yearbook for me. I'll never forget the time we spent together. I usually stop at the cemetery and put flowers on his grave when I'm in the Roulette area. It's only a mile from my relative's former farm up Fishing Creek.
|While in the Brooklyn Dodgers organization, before actually joining the Dodger team at the major league level, Don played in the Cuban leagues during the winter of 1950-51. In one game between Cienfuegos and Marianao some "rowdies" over ran the field, and one of them actually took to the mound and threw several pitches to Don, who was up at bat at the time. At that point the umpire with the help of the local authorities escorted the interlopers off the field. Don's unscheduled "relief pitcher" that day: Fidel Castro!
|The picture above appeared on the front page of the New York Times on October 5, 1955, the day after the Brooklyn Dodgers captured the 1955 World Series by beating their perennial nemesis, the New York Yankees, by a score of 2 to 0 in the seventh game of the Series. The story accompanying the photo appears below.
|Don Hoak, No. 43, is fourth from the right in the second row in this official team picture of the World Series champion 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers reproduced above. Only the name of bat boy Charlie DiGiovanni sitting on the ground in front of the team has been omitted from the picture caption. This copy of the original historical photo autographed by many members of the team is courtesy of Kristin Baggelaar Milton from her personal collection of Brooklyn Dodger memorabilia.
|Don Hoak played third base for five National League teams during his ten-year career in major league baseball. Click here or on the image above to view a collection of baseball cards issued for Don with his various teams.
|Don was named to the National League All-Star Team in 1957 while then playing for the Cincinnati Reds, and in the same year he led the league in doubles with 39. Don had a good eye at the plate, and during the late 50's and early 60's he was usually near the top among National League players reaching base on balls.
|Don's competitive spirit actually precipitated a change in the baseball rule book. While on second base in a game between the Reds and the Braves on April 21, 1957, fiesty Don instinctively attempted to break up an impending double play by fielding a ball bare-handed hit by team mate Wally Post! Subsequently, Rule 7.09(g) was adopted giving the umpire authority to call the batter-runner out when a base runner intentionally interferes to break up a double play.
|Don earned two World Series rings, the first with the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers, when they defeated their perennial nemesis, the New York Yankees that year. The second came when Don was a member of the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates team that defeated the Yankees in a series most remembered for Bill Mazaroski's dramatic game winning home run in the ninth inning of the seventh game. Click here to read more about Don and his record as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates
|Don came in second in voting for the title of Most Valuable Player in the National League in 1960, the season he batted .282 and his team the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the perennial powerhouse New York Yankees in dramatic fashion in a seven-game World Series. Jill still has as an unique momento of her husband's career in baseball, a pipe given to him by fellow pipe smoker Bing Crosby, then part owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
|This picture by a LIFE magazine photographer shows Don signing autographs for young fans while a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The 1961 Pittsburgh Pirates yearbook was dedicated to the team's memorable victory over the New York Yankees the previous fall. This collectors' edition featured special tributes to Pirates star players, including Don Hoak. Click here to see much more about Don.
|In 1962, when Don was with the Philadelphia Phillies, the Mars Candy Company issued a series of seven-inch, 33 1/3 rpm records, each featuring four popular baseball stars giving practical advice to aspiring young players in various aspects of the game. Number 3 in the series, devoted to the art of fielding, featured Don discussing fielding techniques from his perspective as a third baseman. Just click here to listen to Don's advice, as he is interviewed by another baseball notable, Lou Boudreau.
|In 1995, Don Hoak was inducted into the Brooklyn Dodgers Hall of Fame, just forty years after playing with the 1955 Dodger team that defeated the New York Yankees in the World Series, giving the Dodgers their first ever world championship.The March and April 1997 issues of The Flatbush Faithful, a newsletter dedicated to those fans who still lament the move west of their beloved Bums, featured full-page profiles of both Don and Jill. Click here to read these tributes to the player and his devoted wife. In 2000, a glove used by Don as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers would bring an impressive $1150 at auction among collectors of baseball memorabilia. Read more of the story by clicking here.
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