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Former Dodgers OF George Shuba passes away

Hulton Archive

LOS ANGELES -- Former Dodgers outfielder George Shuba passed away at age 89 at his home in Youngstown, Ohio, the team announced on Monday.

Shuba played for Brooklyn for parts of seven seasons from 1948-1955, hitting .259/.358/.413 with 24 home runs and 45 doubles in 355 career games. His best year came in 1952, when at age 27 the left-handed batting Shuba hit .305/.395/.465 with 12 doubles and nine home runs in 94 games.

He hit .333 (4-for-12) in seven World Series games, with a home run. His two-run home run against Allie Reynolds in Game 1 of the 1953 World Series was the first pinch-hit home run by a Dodger in World Series history.

Shuba is most famous for what his son calls the "Handshake of the Century," in 1946 with the Dodgers farm club in Montreal. Shuba was a teammate of Jackie Robinson, who on April 18, 1946 broke the International League color barrier. Robinson hit a home run in the third inning, then as he crossed home plate shook the outstretched hand of Shuba, the on-deck hitter.

Shuba's son Mike spoke with Marc Bona of the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 2013:

"I could see in Jack's eyes he was very happy I was at the plate to shake his hand," George tells Mike later. "But I do remember a few guys that didn't want to bat after Jack."

Mike recognizes the importance of what happened at home plate that day. "Jackie was scared none of his teammates would shake his hand in public. Look at the photo – can you imagine Jackie crossing the plate with no one there? That was a sign America was maturing.

Shuba is survived by his wife, Kathryn, his son Mike, daughters Marlene and Marykay and his sister, Helen.