Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Brush with greatness: Bob Shaw


I had been saving this particular "Brush With Greatness" for the anniversary of my conversation with Bob Shaw.

I talked to him five years ago in late October. In 2005, the White Sox, the team for which Shaw had the most success during his 11-season career, were in the World Series for the first time since 1959. Shaw was the last pitcher to win a World Series game for the White Sox prior to '05, and since he was a graduate of a college in our coverage area, I thought it'd be a good idea to talk to him.

So I did, and like any conversation with a major leaguer of the past, I found it fascinating.

Shaw talked about being roommates with Early Wynn, the standout pitcher known as much for his crankiness and drinking as his talent. Shaw said he'd go out late with Wynn and Wynn would berate him for his pitching habits. But Shaw listened to Wynn and credited him for his new-found success. Shaw enjoyed the best season of his career in 1959, going 18-6 with a 2.69 ERA and finishing third in the Cy Young Award voting.

Shaw's biggest game was Game 5 of the 1959 World Series against the Dodgers. He helped the White Sox win the game 1-0. The opposing pitcher was Sandy Koufax. The game took place in the L.A. Coliseum. Shaw pitched in front of 92,706 fans, the largest crowd to ever watch a World Series game.

Shaw pitched in front of 92,706 fans, against Koufax, and won the game 1-0.

Wow.

"I would have to say because Koufax is in the Hall of Fame and it was in the World Series, that was the highlight (of my career)," Shaw said to me. "I don't like to brag; I'm not a big ego guy. But I do feel good about that. In every profession you're in, if you have a chance to do good, it makes you feel good."

Shaw would pitch in the All-Star Game while with the Braves in 1962, and he won 16 games with the Giants in 1965. He was particularly proud of winning the final game of the Caribbean World Series in Cuba in the late 1950s.

After his baseball career, Shaw became a great success in real estate, developing shopping plazas along Florida's southeastern coast. He lived in Florida for nearly 50 years after being born and raised on Long Island.

Shaw admitted to not following the White Sox much, but he did say he hoped they would win the 2005 Series. They did win the Series, and Shaw was no longer the last White Sox pitcher to win a World Series game.

This was to be my World Series Brush With Greatness story, saved for when the World Series began.

But I found out on Sunday that Bob Shaw died last week. He was 77.

So I'm telling the story now.

I thank him for being so accommodating with me when I talked to him. He was instantly likeable.

There was a card show less than a week after I talked to Shaw. I searched out cards of Shaw when I went to the show. I decided that day that I would try to collect cards of every player I had interviewed. I bought this 1961 Topps card of Shaw and I also have a 1963 Topps card of Shaw as a Milwaukee Brave. It felt weird to buy vintage cards of non-Dodgers. I had never done that up to that point.

But now I have a card of almost every player that I have interviewed. The conversation with Shaw was the catalyst for that.

Thank you, sir.

Rest in peace.

4 comments:

  1. That is a great post Greg. I put these Brush with Greatness posts at the very top of the list! Thanks.

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  2. Great Story - and cool to see that it led to the birth of a collection.

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  3. I love the Brush With Greatness too... GREAT story! Bob Shaw is a great guy, glad you are telling his story...

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