Reese joined Dodgers teammates in Cooperstown in 1984

Written by: Craig Muder

The doors of the Baseball Hall of Fame had already opened for so many of his Brooklyn Dodgers teammates.

Robinson. Campanella. Snider. And Koufax.

Yet Cooperstown still seemed incomplete without their captain. On March 4, 1984, the Veterans Committee made sure Pee Wee Reese received his place at the Hall of Fame.

Reese and Rick Farrell were named as members of the Class of 1984 by the Veterans Committee. For Reese, it was the end of a long journey that began with his first appearance on the Baseball Writers' Association of America Hall of Fame ballot in 1964. Reese received as much as 47.9 percent of the vote in 1976, then exhausted his BBWAA eligibility after the 1977 election.

But from there, a groundswell of support built for the 10-time All-Star shortstop who helped the Dodgers win seven pennants and one World Series title.

Reese broke in with the Dodgers in 1940, finishing 26th in the National League Most Valuable Player voting despite playing in just 85 games. The next year, Reese became the Dodgers' everyday shortstop and helped Brooklyn win its first NL pennant in 21 years.

Reese enlisted in the Navy after the 1942 season, then returned to the big leagues in 1946. From 1947-56, Reese led the Dodgers to six NL flags in 10 seasons. In that stretch, he played in at least 140 games every year and never scored fewer than 81 runs.

But as important as his play on the field was to the Dodgers, his actions off the field may have meant even more. The Ekron, Ky., native helped smooth the path for baseball's integration pioneers when he openly welcomed Jackie Robinson to the Dodgers.

Robinson spent his first season in 1947 as a first baseman, then switched to second base the next year – teaming with Reese for five seasons to create one of baseball's best double play combinations.

Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese - BL-112-2006 (National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

Reese and the Dodgers lost their first five World Series together -- each time to the New York Yankees. But in 1955, the 37-year-old Reese hit .296 in the World Series, scoring five runs – including the Dodgers' second-and-final run in their 2-0 Game 7 victory over New York – to lead Brooklyn to its first and only title.

Reese played three more seasons, ending his career as a utility man in 1958 after the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles. In 16 seasons, he hit .269 with 1,338 runs scored and 2,170 hits. He was named on the NL MVP ballot in 13 of his 16 seasons.

Reese was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984 along with Ferrell and BBWAA electees Luis Aparicio, Don Drysdale and Harmon Killebrew.

Reese passed away on Aug. 14, 1999.

Craig Muder is director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
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