Other Free Encyclopedias » Famous Sports Stars » Baseball » Leo Durocher Biography - Hardscrabble Childhood, Early Career, Captain Of Gashouse Gang, Becomes Player-manager, Creates Controversy - SELECTED WRITINGS BY DUROCHER:

Leo Durocher - Triumphant Return To Baseball

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Durocher was reinstated as manager by the Dodgers (who won the pennant in 1947 under a replacement manager, Burt Shotton) in 1948 after serving his suspension, but in midseason he obtained his release from Brooklyn and became manager of the Dodgers' archrivals, the New York Giants, in a move that stunned New York baseball fans, who could not conceive of Durocher managing the Giants, with whom he and the Dodgers were continually feuding. Durocher replaced the popular Mel Ott, whose team had occasioned Durocher's "nice guys finish last" remark to a sportswriter, Frank Graham.

The Giants steadily improved under Durocher, from fifth place finishes in 1948 and 1949 (Durocher's first full year with the team) to third place in 1950. In 1951, Durocher insisted that the Giants call up rookie sensation Willie Mays from their Minneapolis farm club. Durocher was a virtual godfather to Mays, who started slowly and became despondent. Durocher kept Mays in the lineup and treated him like a son, nurturing Mays to greatness. The Giants battled the Dodgers for the pennant all season, and in an amazing stretch run during which they won thirty-seven of their last forty-four games, tied the Dodgers for the pennant. They won the pennant in the third and final playoff game on Bobby Thomson's ninth-inning game-winning homer off the Dodgers' Ralph Branca. It is one of the most famous moments in sports history. Years later, it was revealed that Durocher's Giants had been stealing signs for the last three months of the season and using a relay system including an electronic device connected to the bullpen to give batters advance knowledge of what type of pitch was coming. In 1954, the Giants under Durocher won the National League pennant and swept a favored Cleveland Indians team in the World Series, with Mays as the star.

Despite his success as a manager, Durocher's years with the Giants were by no means placid. In April 1949, he was suspended "indefinitely" by baseball commissioner Chandler (who feared a race riot) for hitting and kicking a 22-year-old Puerto Rican fan at the Polo Grounds. The Giants front office made strenuous efforts to discredit the victim's version of events and support Durocher's. Chandler rescinded the suspension after four days because of "insufficient" evidence. In June 1949, Durocher was suspended for five days and fined by the National League for bumping an umpire and using abusive language. In 1952, he was suspended and fined three times for run-ins with umpires and for a beanball incident involving a Giants pitcher.

Leo Durocher - Leaves Baseball Temporarily [next] [back] Leo Durocher - Suspended From Baseball

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