Giants Series hero Rhodes dies at 82

Updated: June 18, 2009, 10:21 PM ET
Associated Press

LAS VEGAS -- Dusty Rhodes, who helped the Giants win their last World Series title in 1954, has died. He was 82.

Rhodes died Wednesday of cardiopulmonary arrest at Valley Hospital Medical Center in Las Vegas, the Clark County coroner's office said Thursday. He lived in Henderson.

[+] EnlargeDusty Rhodes
Leonard Mccombe/Getty ImagesDusty Rhodes was 4 for 6 with two home runs for the Giants in the 1954 World Series.

Rhodes had heart trouble and was on the way to his doctor for a checkup, according to Frank Turco, a cousin of Rhodes' wife, Gloria.

"He didn't miss a beat in life. He had good times. He liked to live," Turco said. "And the results of those things take a toll on you. But he was a happy guy until the day he died."

Rhodes was 4 for 6 with two home runs in the 1954 World Series, when the Giants swept the Cleveland Indians.

Pinch hitting for Monte Irvin in the 10th inning of Game 1, Rhodes had a tiebreaking three-run homer off Bob Lemon for a 5-2 victory at the Polo Grounds.

He had a tying single as a pinch hitter for Irvin in the fifth inning of Game 2 and led off the seventh with a homer off Early Wynn for the final run in a 3-1 win.

Rhodes pinch hit again for Irvin in the third inning of Game 3 at Cleveland and had a two-run single against Mike Garcia for a 3-0 lead in a 6-2 victory.

"He had a thousand stories," Turco said. "He could tell a story better than anybody I know. He thought the best pitcher of all time was Herb Score. He said he couldn't see the ball -- he just heard it go by."

Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully, in his 60th season with the Dodgers, fondly recalled Rhodes' self-depreciating sense of humor.

"I remember Dusty saying to me one day with a deadly serious face, 'They're giving me a day tomorrow.' I said, 'Really, Dusty? That's great.' He said, 'Yeah -- to get out of town,'" Scully said. "That was his attitude. I don't believe he ever took himself seriously, but he took his job seriously."

Born James Lamar Rhodes in Mathews, Ala., Rhodes played with the New York Giants from 1952-57, then appeared in 54 games for the San Francisco Giants in 1959. He had a .253 career average, 54 homers and 207 RBIs.

"Just by mentioning his name, I start to smile -- which maybe is as good a tribute to a man as anything," Scully said. "He had that marvelous time in 1954, when `all Rhodes led to the World Series.' So at least he's remembered. And when you realize how many people have played this game over how many years, to be remembered at all is a significant achievement. I guess they're looking for a designated hitter up there, and he's not a bad one to have."


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press