Carl Erskine, an Anderson native and ace right-hander for the famous Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers teams of the 1950s, will play The National Anthem on his harmonica during pregame festivities at Friday’s official dedication day for IU’s Bart Kaufman Field, with the start of Indiana’s weekend series with Michigan ensuing at 6:05 p.m.
Erskine, 86, was one of the Dodgers immortalized in Roger Kahn’s wonderful 1972 book, “The Boys of Summer,” and was among those who helped provide a more comfortable clubhouse context for Jackie Robinson to successfully break racial barriers in Major League Baseball. Erskine has a street named after him in Brooklyn and has an abiding, affectionate relationship with his hometown of Anderson. He was a contemporary and teammate of “Jumpin’ Johnny” Wilson at Anderson High School and was a long-time basketball season-ticket holder at The Wigwam. And, like his late friend Stan Musial, he isn’t averse to hauling out his harmonica, especially for baseball-related purposes. He is also a friend of Bart Kaufman, whose generosity helped IU’s new baseball facility achieve fruition.
Pregame festivities will start at 5 p.m. Friday.