Nicknamed “The Reading Rifle” for his strong, accurate arm, Furillo spent 15 years as the Dodgers’ right fielder. “We hated the Giants. We just hated the uniform.” -Carl Furillo, on the famous rivalry between the Dodgers and the Giants
This Brooklyn Dodger star was nicknamed “The Reading Rifle” for his strong arm and accurate throwing. Furillo excelled at the plate and in the outfield during the peak years of the “Boys of Summer” in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
He was a Dodger for the duration of his 15-year career, playing for the team both in New York and California. He batted over .300 five times, and at the peak of his career in 1953, he hit 21 home runs and had 92 runs batted in with a .344 batting average.
During that year, he also captured the National League batting title, which he won despite the fact that he was sidelined with a broken finger after brawling with the Giants’ Reuben Gomez. While playing right field in famous Ebbets Field, he appeared in seven World Series contests and was named to the 1952 and 1953 All-Star Teams.
Furillo began his baseball career as an outfielder for Pocmoke City in the Eastern Shore League for $80 a month. He made his entry into the major leagues with Brooklyn in 1946 and followed the team to Los Angeles in 1958. In 1959, near the end of his career, Furillo played a mere 25 games in the outfield, but helped Los Angeles win the World Series against the White Sox by delivering a pinch-hit single in the seventh inning of game 3. The bases were loaded, and Furillo batted in two runs, pushing the Dodgers ahead in a scoreless game that would end in a 3-1 win. He sued the Dodgers in 1960 for being dropped from the team one season short of his retirement after tearing his calf muscle. He won $21,000 in damages, but afterwards found it difficult to find work as a coach or manager. Though Commissioner Ford Frick denied it, Furillo claimed he was blacklisted from the major leagues. Furillo later worked for Otis Elevator in New York City.
Furillo’s career batting average was .299, with192 homeruns and 1,058 RBIs. He was elected to the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 1985 and died on January 21,1989.