The Brooklyn Dodgers Sign Old Tom Zachary

Harold FriendChief Writer IJuly 9, 2009

The 1934 Brooklyn Dodgers lacked solid pitching, but both Casey Stengel and general manager Bob Quinn thought that the team had enough offense to compensate.

In an attempt to bolster the starting pitching, Quinn signed 38-year-old left hander Tom Zachary after Boston's other team had released him.

Casey Stengel wasn't sure. Zachary, in only 5 games, had been 1-2 with a 3.38 ERA. Ironically, his sole victory came at the expense of Brooklyn.

Braves Field

After getting off to a quick start, Stengel's team visited Boston, which many individuals have discovered can be a harrowing experience.

Braves Field was the opposite of hitter-friendly Ebbets Field. The park was a pitcher's paradise, with the fences far from home plate. A strong, prevailing wind off the Charles River knocked down most deep drives.

Tom Zachary Blanked Brooklyn

After dropping the first two games of the three game set, Brooklyn faced Tom Zachary.

The Braves managed to score two runs off Dutch Leonard in the first inning as Zachary went on to blank Brooklyn on six hits. The ninth inning is a graphic illustration of how the game has changed.

Sam Leslie drew a one out walk, and after Tony Cuccinello lined out, Al Lopez doubled to put the potential tying runs on base.

Braves' manager Bill McKechnie never thought of removing Zachary, who walked Glenn Chapman, batting for Leonard, to load the bases with Brooklyns. Lonnie Frey then hit a hard ground ball that was turned into a game-ending force out.

Casey Stengel Was Not Impressed

Casey Stengel was not impressed with Zachary. "He pitches with an artery, not a muscle—his pulse carries the ball up to the plate."

On June 15, Casey started Tom Zachary against the Pirates in Pittsburgh. He pitched adequately, allowing nine hits, four walks, and four runs in a complete game, 6-4 victory.

Zachary helped his own cause with two hits, including the eventual game-winner that snapped a 3-3 tie in the sixth inning that drove in Joe Stripp and Al Lopez.

Zachary's next start came against the Cardinals and Dizzy Dean. The aging lefty was shelled from the mound in the fifth inning as the eventual National League pennant winners easily defeated Brooklyn, 9-2. 

Tom was more successful, although again a loser, against the Giants on July 7.

You Must Score to Win

In the final game of a four game series against New York at Ebbets Field, Zachary started against Fat Freddie Fitzsimmons in a game the Giants needed to get a split.

Tom gave up a run in the first, another in fifth, and confirmed what everyone knows. You can't win if your team doesn't score. Fat Freddie blanked Brooklyn on three hits.

Tom Zachary's Record

Zachary appeared in 22 games for Brooklyn in 1934, starting 12, completing four, and finishing with a 5-6 record.

His 4.43 ERA and 88 ERA+ indicated that he often lacked effectiveness, as did the 122 hits he allowed in 101 2/3 innings.

Casey's Prediction

After the season, Stengel gave Zachary permission to make a deal for himself with another team, but if he failed, his contract would be automatically renewed.

Zachary reported to spring training with Brooklyn. When asked how many games he thought Old Tom Zachary would win for Brooklyn in 1935, Casey winked at the reporter and said, "Five."


By ROSCOE McGOWEN., & Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. (1934, April 27). DODGERS BLANKED BY BRAVES, 2 TO 0 :Zachary Shows Old Skill on Mound as Brooklyn Drops Third Straight Game.. New York Times (1857-Current file),27. Retrieved July 9, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 95044090).

By ROSCOE McGOWEN.Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. (1934, June 16). ZACHARY, DODGERS, BEATS PIRATES, 6-4 :Veteran Pitcher Curbs Rival Bats and Doubles in Sixth to Decide Battle. New York Times (1857-Current file),11. Retrieved July 9, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 94540990).

By JOHN DREBINGER.. (1934, July 9). Fitzsimmons of the Giants Blanks Dodgers, 2-0, Yielding Only 3 Hits, New York Times (1857-Current file),19. Retrieved July 9, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 93632799).

By ROSCOE McGOWEN.Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.By ROSCOE McGOWEN.. (1935, February 24). MUNGO OF DODGERS ACCEPTS CONTRACT :Entire Team Is Signed as Manager Stengel Greets Vanguard at Orlando. New York Times (1857-Current file),S1. Retrieved July 9, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 93455164).

Goldman, Steven. Forging genius : the making of Casey Stengel. Washington, D.C. : Potomac Books, ©2005.