Position: Manager
Teams:
Brooklyn Dodgers, 1939-1948; New York Yankees, 1948-1955; Chicago Cubs, 1966-1972; Houston Astros, 1972-1973

Leo Durocher
Even Leo Durocher's disappointments
took on legend: He was the leader of
the Cubs when they collapsed under
the Mets in the 1969 NL Pennant Race.

Everything in Leo Duro­cher’s life seemed to take place on a grand scale. He played with Babe Ruth and managed both Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays. A member of the St. Louis Cardinals’ Gashouse Gang in 1934, “Leo the Lip” also helped create the “Miracle at Coogan’s Bluff” for the 1951 New York Giants.

Even Durocher’s disappointments took on legend. He was skipper of the Brooklyn Dodgers when a third strike got away from Mickey Owen in the 1941 World Series, and he was leader of the Cubs when they collapsed and were overtaken by the Mets in the 1969 National League pennant race.

Never one to do anything halfway, Durocher married actress Laraine Day, was suspended by commissioner Happy Chandler, staged fierce arguments with umpires, and is considered the source of the proclamation, “nice guys finish last,” although those may not have been his exact words. Not surprisingly, even his bitterness reached epic size. He was unhappy at not being named to the Hall of Fame while he could still smell the roses, and he said so. Leo was elected by the Veterans Committee in 1994, two years after his death.

Leo Ernest Durocher (1905-1991) came from West Springfield, Massachusetts, and broke in with the 1925 Yankees. He spent 17 years in the big leagues as a shortstop, where he hit .247, and played in the World Series with the 1928 Yankees and 1934 Cardinals. He became the manager for Brooklyn in 1939; two years later he had the Dodgers in the World Series. He compiled a .540 winning percentage in 24 years as a manager and reached three World Series, winning the championship in 1954.

During his tenure as Dodger manager, Durocher engaged in a titanic battle of personalities with owner Larry MacPhail. He was fired numerous times by the volcanic executive, only to have the incident forgotten the next day. Once, after clinching the 1941 pennant in Boston, Durocher ordered the returning train to speed through the 125th St. station, while MacPhail was waiting there hoping to join the celebration.

In 1947, Durocher was suspended for one year by Chandler for conduct detrimental to baseball. It was this ban that may have delayed his entry into the Hall of Fame. Upon being fired for good by the Dodgers in 1948, Durocher simply migrated to the archrival Giants, a move that in New York baseball circles would be roughly comparable to the President of the United States defecting to the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War.

Two of his best moments came with the Giants. One was on October 3, 1951, when Bobby Thomson’s “shot heard ’round the world” gave the Giants the pennant. The second biggest highlight came in 1954, when the Giants upset the heavily favored Cleveland Indians in four games.

Here are Leo Durocher's major league managing totals:

W

L

T

PCT

G

2,008

1,709

22

.540

3,739

 

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