John "Spider" Jorgensen, 84, who played five seasons in the major leagues, three with the Brooklyn Dodgers and the final two with the New York Giants, died Nov. 6 at a hospital in Rancho Cucamonga. The cause of death was not announced.
A native of Folsom, Calif., Jorgensen attended Sacramento City College before signing a pro baseball contract. He started his first major league game as a third baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers on the same day that Jackie Robinson broke baseball's racial barrier.
Jorgensen was scheduled to open the 1947 season at Montreal -- then the Dodgers' top minor league team -- but injuries to two regulars made room for him on the Dodgers' roster. On opening day, he arrived in Brooklyn, but his equipment was still in Syracuse, N.Y., where the Montreal team was scheduled to open. Robinson, who played first base in his opening game, offered Jorgensen his infielder's glove.
"I hit the glove a couple times and said, 'OK, it's good enough for me,' " Jorgensen told sportswriter Justin Hathaway in 1999.
Jorgensen, who had a career batting average of .266, later was a scout for the Chicago Cubs for 22 years.