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Elite bowler Rick Auerbach: a talented athlete in more than one sport

Rick Auerbach, shown during his three seasons as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Rick Auerbach, shown during his three seasons as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Courtesy of Los Angeles Dodgers

This is one of my favorite stories and was originally published on Sept. 26, 2012. It is being re-run with a postscript.

Rick Auerbach has emerged as one of the top bowlers in the Los Angeles area, but not everyone is aware of his baseball exploits.

Auerbach, a graduate of Taft High School in Woodland Hills, played 11 seasons for four teams in the major leagues, including three years with the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1974-76.

He played 153 games with the Milwaukee Brewers in his second season in the majors, batting .218 with 24 stolen bases. Primarily a shortstop and utility player, Auerbach had a career batting average of only .220, but he batted over .300 in three seasons as a part-time player.

In fact, Auerbach batted a robust .342 in 73 at-bats in his first season with the Dodgers.

Auerbach, a 62-year-old Woodland Hills resident, also played with the Cincinnati Reds for three seasons in the later days of the Big Red Machine, batting over .300 in two of those seasons.

Auerbach, who bowled a perfect game earlier this month at AMF Woodlake Lanes in Woodland Hills, finished his major league career with the Seattle Mariners.

During his three seasons with the Dodgers, he wore uniform No. 1 and in 1984, the Dodgers retired that uniform number in honor of their prolific shortstop.

However, it was not Auerbach the Dodgers were recognizing – but rather Pee Wee Reese, who also wore No. 1 and was a 10-time All-Star and a Hall of Famer.

Reese played for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers from 1940-1958, collecting 2,170 hits in 2,166 games.

“I tell people the Dodgers retired my number, but it wasn’t because of me,” said Auerbach with a laugh.

Postscript: Almost exactly one year ago, Auerbach crushed his fourth certified perfect game in a 740 series (215, 300, 225). “There were no cheapies,” Auerbach said. “They were all dead in the frickin’ water.”

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