Named National League MVP in 1941 after helping the Dodgers bring the first pennant to Brooklyn in 21 years.
“This was real. This was no put-on stuff. Their fans hated us, and our fans hated them. So I said nuts to them, and I quit.”
–Dolph Camilli in 1943, describing why he quit the Giants after being traded by the Dodgers
Dolph Camilli began his career with an eight-year stint in the minor leagues before being signed by the Chicago Cubs late in the 1933 season. A left-handed hitting first baseman, he was traded to the Phillies the next year and hit .315 in 1936 and .339 in 1937.
That year, the Brooklyn Dodgers’ General Manager, Larry McPhail, petitioned the Brooklyn Trust Company for $75,000 to buy Camilli from the Phillies. By 1941, McPhail had also pulled in shortstop Pee Wee Reese and center fielder Pete Reiser, among others.
His goal was to win Brooklyn the pennant, and they did–their first in 21 years. Camilli became the National League’s Most Valuable Player that year, and led the league with 34 home runs and 120 RBIs.
The next year, Camilli boasted 109 RBIs and 26 home runs, but had a slow start in 1943 and was traded to the Giants. He made no secret of his dislike for the team and quit.
He spent 1944 and 1945 managing the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League, and joined the Boston Red Sox during the 1945 season before retiring. He worked as a scout for the Yankees and the Phillies, managed minor-league Pacific Coast teams, and was spring training manager for the California Angels.
In 1,490 games, Camilli had 1,482 hits, including 261 doubles, 86 triples, and 239 home runs. He scored 936 runs and drove in 950 runs, and was a member of the 1939 and 1941 All-Star teams. He was elected to the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 1990. Dolph Camilli died in 1997.