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World Series

He's Only No. 2 on Short List

October 20, 2002|Bill Shaikin

David Eckstein looks down on few men -- literally speaking -- but the Angels' mighty little catalyst can look down upon the original leadoff hitter in franchise history.

Eckstein, the Angel shortstop, stands a couple eyelashes taller than 5 feet 6. Albie Pearson, the center fielder and leadoff hitter for the Angels from 1961 to '66, doesn't quite measure up.

"He's a monster compared to me," Pearson said with a laugh.

Pearson, at 5 feet 5, scored the first run in franchise history in 1961, led the American League in runs in 1962 and made the All-Star team in 1963. He attended Saturday's World Series opener, happily cheering for the little kid at shortstop.

"He's big," Pearson said, "as the key and the spark the Angels have needed. He even gets hit in the rear end when he needs to. Those are the intangible things that win ballgames.

"I'm tickled to watch him play. It brings back a lot of memories."

After his retirement as a player, Pearson became a minister. Next month, after five years of construction and fund-raising, Pearson will open the gates to Father's Heart Ranch in Desert Hot Springs, an 11-acre home for abused, neglected and abandoned children.

-- Bill Shaikin

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