A Sip of Coffee

In the early 1940s Richard Leroy Teed, a catcher at Windsor High School in Connecticut, dreamed of being a big leaguer. But World War II delayed his baseball career. After serving honorably in the Marine Corps, he was discharged in 1947 and signed by Brooklyn for $60 a month. He spent the next seven years toiling in the bush leagues. Now 27, his big-league dreams looked dead—until fate stepped in.

In July of 1953, Rube Walker, a backup catcher to Brooklyn’s Roy Campanella, severely bruised his thumb. The Dodgers brought up Teed to back up Campanella. Dick Teed’s chance at the big leagues had arrived.

A week after his call-up, on July 24, 1953, Teed sat in the bullpen marveling at his luck—a teammate of Roy Campanella, Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese, Gil Hodges, and Jackie Robinson! Still, he’d seen no action and was itching to get into a game. It was a hot summer night at Ebbets Field. The Dodgers trailed the Milwaukee Braves 11-1 in the seventh inning.

Suddenly, Teed was summoned to pinch hit. “I ran,” he said—“didn’t jog—I ran to the dugout, I was so excited. I didn’t have my own bat so Carl Furillo threw me one of his.” Teed walked to the plate and stepped into the batter’s box. Max Surkont, a veteran hurler for the Braves, looked in. Teed fouled off several pitches and worked the count to 3-2. Surkont threw a sinker low and away. Teed swung and missed—a strikeout. “I wasn’t down on myself,” he said later. “I figured there would be another day.”

But another day was not to be. Rube Walker’s thumb healed; the Dodgers sent Teed back to the minors. Dick Teed’s major league record is one at bat, one strikeout. He never again picked up a bat in major league competition. He played a few more years before calling it quits, but his career in baseball was far from over. Teed became a successful minor-league manager, leading the Spartanburg Phillies to the Western Carolina League Championship in 1967.

He then coached and scouted for the Phillies and the Dodgers before retiring in 1994. In 2001 he was inducted into the National Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame. Dick Teed died on August 17, 2014. He was 88. A lifelong friend, the mayor of Windsor, Connecticut, said of him: “He was a great, great gentleman who just loved baseball.”

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