This is the third of a three-part series on Old Greenwich baseball legend Mike Sandlock. The 94-year-old onetime Dodger was playing in Brooklyn when Jackie Robinson arrived and has always maintained strong ties to Greenwich .
Old Greenwich native Mike Sandlock spent the most of his baseball career in the minors, but he had an impact on the careers of several legendary players. Sandlock signed with the Boston Braves in 1939 and was the first catcher to work with Warren Spahn at the professional level. Spahn went on to record the most wins by a left-hander. Dodger superstar Roy Campanella credited Sandlock with correcting a flaw in Spahn's throwing motion that may have been key to his successful career. More than anything, Sandlock remembers the fast friendship he forged with the legendary catcher during their time with the minor league Montreal Royals.
"Campanella was a nice, easygoing guy," Sandlock said. "We used to walk the streets of Montreal and all we would do is talk baseball."
Sandlock played in California with the Dodgers AAA Hollywood affiliate before the Major Leagues moved to the West Coast. Sandlock won several minor league championships there. A favorite baseball memory concerns one of the most unfortunate uniform choices in sports history.
"They put shorts on us in 1950. That's Hollywood style," Sandlock said with a laugh. "When we first tried them out, we were in Oakland and we went out there and everybody in the stands was whistling at us. We had the best whistling crowd. So those uniforms didn't last too long."
Sandlock got one more shot in the majors playing briefly with the Pirates in 1953 at age 38. His career ended in the Phillies system when an overzealous rookie collided with him at the plate during a spring training practice, tearing a ligament in his right knee. Sandlock has no regrets about his long stint in the minors.
"I didn't care I was in the minors. I just enjoyed baseball," Sandlock said. "I got paid $200 a month, but I didn't care if they gave me $75 a month. Why? Because I wanted to play baseball."
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