This Day In Dodgers History: Zack Wheat Released; 50th Anniversary In Los Angeles

On January 1, 1927, the Brooklyn Dodgers released longtime outfielder Zack Wheat after 18 seasons with the team. The Dodgers’ decision was made prior to Wheat’s age 39-season.

Wheat debuted in 1909 as a 21-year-old for the then-Brooklyn Superbas, appearing in 26 games with a .304/.343/.431 slash line. He went on to become a full time starter the following season, playing in 156 games while hitting .284/.341/.403 with 36 doubles, 15 triples, two home runs, 55 RBI, 78 runs scored and 16 stolen bases.

Wheat was a star member of the club for years after his debut, winning the batting title in 1918 with a .335 average, and he also led the league with a .461 slugging percentage in 1916.

However, his career really began to take off in 1920 at the age of 32, when he had one of his best seasons to date and started a six-season run of elite play.

From his debut through 1919, Wheat hit .299/.351/.419 with a 124 wRC+, 51 home runs, 635 runs scored, 640 RBI and 162 stolen bases. But from 1920-1925, he hit .340/.390/.494 with a 137 wRC+ with 80 home runs, 622 runs scored, 597 RBI and 62 stolen bases.

In his final season with the Dodgers in 1926, Wheat appeared in 111 games, batting .290/.326/.411 with five homers, 35 RBI and 68 runs scored.

He finished his career with the Dodgers as a .317/.367/.450 hitter, slugging 132 home runs, driving in 1,248 runs, and scoring 1,289 times while stealing 205 bases.

After being released, Wheat signed with the Philadelphia Athletics, where he played his final season hitting .324/.379/.393 in 88 games.

Wheat was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee in 1959. Despite his election to the Hall of Fame, the Dodgers have not been able to retire a number for him because players did not wear numbers during his playing days.

Vin Scully helps kick off 50th anniversary of Dodgers in L.A.

Also on this day in Dodgers history, but in 2008, the team began the celebration of their 50th anniversary in L.A. by participating in the 119th annual Tournament of Roses Parade.

The Dodgers had a float that featured current and former players, as well as legendary broadcaster Vin Scully and longtime organist Nancy Bea Hefley.

The Dodgers went on to finish the 2008 season with a record of 84-78, which was good enough for first in the National League West. They ended up sweeping the Chicago Cubs in the NL Division Series, but lost in the Championship Series to the Philadelphia Phillies.

In 2016, Scully also served as the Grand Marshal of the Rose Parade, two years after he retired as the voice of the Dodgers.

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