Relative of Pittsfield man played with Jackie Robinson
PITTSFIELD -- For Dan Hermanski, historic baseball is relative.
The 58-year-old Pittsfield resident is the second cousin of Gene Hermanski, an outfielder who played on the Brooklyn Dodgers alongside race barrier-breaking Hall of Fame player Jackie Robinson.
"He used to get World Series tickets for the family," Hermanski said. "Of course, that was before I was born."
Gene Hermanski is played by newcomer Blake Sanders in mostly background scenes in the new Jackie Robinson film "42."
"They showed him as a right-handed hitter," Hermanski said. "Gene was a left-handed hitter."
Hermanski left baseball in 1953, a year before his second cousin was born.
Though he never saw him play, Hermanski recalled hearing stories about his second cousin's relationship with Robinson.
"They were friends," Hermanski said.
Gene Hermanski told the family Robinson got death threats before playing in Cincinnati.
Hermanski, who has been paralyzed since a stroke 21 years ago, recalled his second cousin calling him up and checking up on him during the holidays. Gene Hermanski died in 2010.
"I used to talk to him on the phone," Hermanski said. "We'd talk about baseball and how he's doing and how the family is. He came up for my wedding in Adams."
"My son wanted to be number 22 in little league because that was Gene's number," Hermanski added.
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