Pete Reiser

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Harold Patrick Reiser
(Pistol Pete)

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Biographical Information[edit]

Pistol Pete Reiser was a high profile player who developed a big reputation early in his career. At age 22 he finished second in the MVP voting, and at age 23 he was sixth in the MVP voting, both times for Brooklyn Dodgers teams that won at least 100 games. When he came back after three years in the military, in 1946 he was again in the top ten in MVP voting. However, he was also famous for his injuries, and those injuries took a toll on him, shortening his career.

St. Louis, MO native Reiser was a speedy outfielder who originally signed with the St. Louis Cardinals. He later moved on to the Brooklyn Dodgers, with whom he made his big league debut in 1940. The next year, 1941, in his first full season, he led the National League with a .343 batting average and 119 runs scored and was second in the Most Valuable Player voting to teammate Dolph Camilli. In 1942, he led the NL with 20 stolen bases.

Reiser entered the Army in January 1943 and was discharged in November 1945, missing three seasons serving in the military during World War II. He returned to baseball in 1946 and swiped a league-high 34 bases including 7 steals of home (a record now shared with Rod Carew).

Reiser had a reputation of playing hard and was injured several times running into fences. As a result, he suffered dizziness and headaches later in his career and retired in 1952.

After his playing career ended, he was a minor league manager from 1955 to 1959 in the Brooklyn Dodgers/Los Angeles Dodgers chain, and a Dodger coach from 1960 to 1964. He was interim manager for two games in 1965 but was forced to quit due to a heart attack in spring training. He tried scouting for the Chicago Cubs in 1966, then managed the Dallas-Fort Worth Spurs for two months, ending up on the big league staff to finish the season. He was a member of the Cubs staff from July 1966 to 1969. He coached for the California Angels in 1970 and in 1971 before rejoining the Cubs from 1972 to 1974.

He was the same age as teammate Pee Wee Reese, and broke in during the same season as Reese, 1940. However, Reese stayed healthier and played through 1958.

The similarity scores method doesn't seem to quite find good comparisons, because of the shape of Reiser's career. Perhaps a good comparison would be Nomar Garciaparra, who, like Reiser, had a terrific start to his career and became more ordinary in the second half. However, Nomar's career was longer, partly because Reiser lost three years to World War II.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 3-time NL All-Star (1941, 1942 & 1946)
  • NL Batting Average Leader (1941)
  • NL Slugging Percentage Leader (1941)
  • NL OPS Leader (1941)
  • NL Runs Scored Leader (1941)
  • NL Total Bases Leader (1941)
  • NL Doubles Leader (1941)
  • NL Triples Leader (1941)
  • 2-time NL Stolen Bases Leader (1942 & 1946)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 1 (1941)

Further Reading[edit]

  • Anthony Castrovince: "A lasting impact from a HOF career cut short",, January 5, 2022. [1]

Related Sites[edit]