Yasiel Puig’s heartwarming gesture to Carl and Jimmy Erskine
By Cary Osborne
Carl Erskine’s opportunities to see the Dodgers in person are rare, being that he is 88 years old and lives in Indiana. Still spry and sharp, however, the former Dodger pitching great, who twirled two no-hitters and was a member of Brooklyn’s only World Series championship team in 1955, does catch the Dodgers from time to time in nearby Cincinnati.
During the second week of June, the Dodgers played a four-game series against the Reds in Cincinnati, and Erskine made the trek to see the franchise he spent 12 years pitching for. (Charley Steiner interviewed him for SportsNet LA; you can see the clip here.) He was on the field at Great American Ballpark with family, including his adult son, Jimmy.
Erskine and his son watched the Dodgers take batting practice, and the former Dodger pitcher marveled as he watched Yasiel Puig take hacks in the cage.
Then Puig exited the cage. He saw Jimmy, Erskine said. Then the Dodger outfielder approached him.
“He gave Jimmy a baseball and signed it, then took some more swings,” Erskine recalled.
Jimmy was born in 1960. He has Down syndrome. For decades, Erskine has championed the cause of people with developmental disabilities. He’s been a force for Special Olympics in Indiana.
And Jimmy has been symbolic of what people with developmental disabilities can do. Jimmy has long been a participant in Special Olympics and has held down employment. Erskine wrote a book called “The Parallel,” about the similarities Jimmy and Erskine’s former teammate Jackie Robinson share in breaking down societal perceptions.
Erskine said he has no idea if someone told Puig who he was or if he knew about Jimmy. For all Erskine knew, Puig saw the father and son as regular people.
Puig had one more gesture for Jimmy.
“He was very friendly to everybody,” Erskine said. “But he came back by Jimmy. He has a silver Sharpie in his hand, and he signed his bat and gave it to Jimmy. ”