Jackie Robinson Scout Dies at 98

Tuesday, September 5th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WALDOBORO, Maine (AP) — Clyde Sukeforth, the scout who helped bring Jackie Robinson to the major leagues, is dead at 98.

Sukeforth, a major league catcher who became a scout for the Brooklyn Dodgers, died Sunday at home.

He was a confidante of Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey, who sent him to Chicago in 1945 to watch a Negro League game involving Robinson's Kansas City Monarchs. Robinson sat out the game, but Sukeforth was impressed enough to arrange the historic meeting with Rickey.

Two years later Robinson broke the color barrier in the majors.

Sukeforth was acting manager for the Dodgers, filling in for the suspended Leo Durocher, on April 15, 1947, the day of Robinson's major league debut. Brooklyn defeated the Boston Braves 5-3.

Sukeforth began playing in the majors in 1926 with Cincinnati. He hit .354 for the Reds in 1929 before an eye injury in a hunting accident two years later hampered his hitting for the rest of his career. His lifetime batting average was .264.

Sukeforth served as a Dodgers scout from 1936 to 1951. He later scouted for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Atlanta Braves. Among the players he signed were Don Newcombe and Roberto Clemente.

A native of the town of Washington in midcoast Maine, Sukeforth graduated from Coburn Classical Institute and attended Georgetown University.

Sukeforth's first wife, Helen, died in 1938. His second wife, Grethel, died last year.

Survivors include his daughter, Helen Zimmerman, of Dallas, and four grandchildren.

At Sukeforth's request, no services were planned.