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Jim Gilliam

Jim Gilliam
Second baseman / Third baseman
Born: (1928-10-17)October 17, 1928
Nashville, Tennessee
Died: October 8, 1978(1978-10-08) (aged 49)
Inglewood, California
Batted: Switch Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 14, 1953 for the Brooklyn Dodgers
Last MLB appearance
September 25, 1966 for the Los Angeles Dodgers
Career statistics
Batting average .265
Home runs 65
Runs batted in 558
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Career highlights and awards

James William "Junior" Gilliam (October 17, 1928 – October 8, 1978) was an American second and third baseman and coach in Negro League and Major League Baseball who spent his entire major league career with the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers. He was named the

  1. REDIRECT Template:Baseball year National League Rookie of the Year, and was a key member of ten NL championship teams from 1953 to 1978. The Dodgers' leadoff hitter for most of the 1950s, he scored over 100 runs in each of his first four seasons and led the NL in triples and walks once each. Upon retirement, he became one of the first African-American coaches in the major leagues.

Negro leagues

Born in Nashville, Tennessee, he began playing on a local semi-pro team at age 14 and dropped out of high school in his senior year to pursue his career. He was nicknamed "Junior" during his time playing in the Negro leagues with the Baltimore Elite Giants, where he was voted an All-Star three straight years from 1948 to 1950; veteran George Scales taught him to switch hit.

Minor leagues


  1. REDIRECT Template:Baseball year he was signed as an amateur free agent by the Brooklyn Dodgers, who sent him to play for their International League farm team, the Montreal Royals; he couldn't play for the Dodgers' Fort Worth Cats affiliate, as blacks were still barred from the Texas League. He led the IL in runs in both 1951 and 1952.

Brooklyn Dodgers

Gilliam made his debut with the Dodgers in April

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He continued to play well during the team's Brooklyn years, batting .282 in 1954 with a career-high 13 home runs before slipping to a .249 average for the

  1. REDIRECT Template:Baseball year champions; he scored over 100 runs both years, as well as in 1956. With the
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Los Angeles Dodgers

He continued to star with the team after their

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  2. REDIRECT Template:Baseball year champions he led the NL in walks (96), along with 23 steals, and was again an All-Star, hitting a home run in that year's second All-Star Game. During the team's Los Angeles years, he moved back to second base from 1961 to 1963, batting .282 in the
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Gilliam was named a coach after the 1964 season, and intended to end his playing career, but team injuries resulted in his seeing substantial play at third base in

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  2. REDIRECT Template:Baseball year, with the team again winning the NL championship in both seasons. In 1965 he was part of the major leagues' first all-switch-hitting infield, with shortstop Wills, first baseman Wes Parker and second baseman Jim Lefebvre. On September 5, Gilliam hit a 2-run pinch triple in a road game against the Houston Astros, giving the Dodgers a 3–2 lead in the 9th inning; the Los Angeles Rams, playing a preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles at the Coliseum, were playing so poorly despite their 10–0 win that the biggest cheer from the stands came from people listening to portable radios tuned to the Dodger game who cheered when Gilliam got the hit.[1]

He finally retired as a player following the 1966 season with a .265 career batting average, 1889 hits, 1163 runs, 65 home runs, 558 runs batted in, 304 doubles, 71 triples, 1036 walks and 203 stolen bases over 14 seasons.

Post-season games

Gilliam played in seven World Series with the Dodgers, four of them against the New York Yankees. In the 1953 World Series he singled to lead off Game 1, and had a solo homer in the fifth inning batting left-handed. He hit three doubles, scoring once and driving in two runs, in the 7–3 Game 4 victory; he had another homer, this time batting right-handed, in the 11–7 loss in Game 5. In Game 3 of the 1955 World Series, he drew a walk with the bases loaded in the second inning to give the Dodgers the lead for good, and he drove in the first run of the 8–5 Game 4 win; the Dodgers won in seven games for their first Series championship. In the 1956 World Series, he walked with one out in the tenth inning of Game 6 and scored on a single by Robinson to give the Dodgers a 1–0 victory, tying the Series; in Game 5 he had struck out and grounded out twice in the perfect game pitched by the Yankees' Don Larsen. In the 1963 World Series he scored the only run of Game 3 in the first inning after walking and advancing to second base on a wild pitch; after advancing all the way to third base on an error by Joe Pepitone in the seventh inning of Game 4, he scored on a Willie Davis sacrifice fly to give the Dodgers a 2–1 win and a Series sweep. He was also on Dodger teams which won the Series in 1959 against the Chicago White Sox and 1965 against the Minnesota Twins. His final major league appearance was in Game 2 of the 1966 World Series against the Baltimore Orioles.


Gilliam served as a player-coach beginning in 1964, and became a full-time coach in 1967. He continued as a coach with the Dodgers until his death, including three more Dodger pennant teams in

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Jim Gilliam's number 19 was retired by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1978.

Gilliam suffered a massive brain hemorrhage at his home on September 15,

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Gilliam was respected for his personal qualities and sportsmanship, in addition to his playing ability, over his 28-year career with the Dodgers. Quotations about him include the following:

  • "What a great team player he was. He'd hit behind Maury, take pitch after pitch after pitch. And when Maury got to second, he'd give himself up by hitting the ball to the right side, even with two strikes, which most hitters won't do." - teammate Jeff Torborg, describing Gilliam as the ideal #2 hitter.[2]
  • "He didn't hit with power, he had no arm, and he couldn't run. But he did the little things to win ballgames. He never griped or complained. He was one of the most unselfish ballplayers I know." - manager Walter Alston
  • "Father, friend, and locker room inspiration that will never be forgotten." - Davey Lopes, Dodgers second baseman from 1972 to 1981

The book Carl Erskine's Tales from the Dodgers Dugout: Extra Innings (2004) includes short stories from former Dodger pitcher Carl Erskine. Gilliam is prominent in many of these stories.

See also


  1. ^ Ziff, Sid (1965-09-06). "Amazing Dodgers". Los Angeles Times. p. III-1. 
  2. ^
  • Baseball: The Biographical Encyclopedia (2000). Kingston, NY: Total/Sports Illustrated. ISBN 1-892129-34-5.

External links

Preceded by
1st official batting coach
Los Angeles Dodgers Hitting Coach
Succeeded by
Jim Lefebvre