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Leo Durocher - Later Years

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Durocher was hired by Chicago Cubs owner Phil Wrigley in 1966 to manage the Cubs, who had been a second division team for over twenty years. After finishing tenth in Durocher's first season as manager, the Cubs finished third for two straight seasons in 1967 and 1968. In 1969, Durocher married his fourth wife, Lynn Walker Goldblatt, a Chicago media personality from whom he was divorced in 1981.

The 1969 Cubs team was in first place in the National League for most of the season and was expected to win the pennant, but the team came apart down the stretch and collapsed, finishing second to the New York Mets. The Cubs' collapse led to bitter criticism being directed at Durocher because of his handling of the team and other matters (such as his leaving the team for two days in midseason to visit one of his stepsons at summer camp). While near the end of his tenure as Cubs manager, Durocher was said to have lost control of the team, with some players being in open revolt against him. He found himself increasingly out of touch and at odds with a newer, younger generation of ballplayers, many of whom resented Durocher's autocratic managerial style.

In August 1972, Durocher replaced Harry Walker as manager of the Houston Astros. It was only the second time that someone had managed two National League teams in a season. The first time was in 1948, when Durocher had managed the Dodgers and the Giants. Durocher quit as Astros manager at the end of the 1973 season, begging off for health reasons.

Durocher was bitter about not being elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame during his lifetime and told his friends not to accept a posthumous induction into the Hall on his behalf. Nevertheless, he was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1993, two years after his death in Palm Springs, California, and the induction was not refused.

Leo Durocher's notoriety, celebrity, and Hollywood connections made him into a larger than life figure, a sort of renegade pop culture icon. He was also one of the first sports figures to become a prominent radio and TV personality and a media figure in his own right. But Durocher is known primarily for the traits he embodied and the "rules" he played by: a take-no-prisoners, winat-any-cost ethos that has molded athletes from Ty Cobb to Pete Rose (two of Durocher's favorite sayings were "I come to kill you" and "stick it in his ear") and an adversarial stance toward authority figures. Durocher was known for his fiery nature and brilliant strategic moves, and always seemed to be embroiled in controversy with the front office.

It should also be noted that Durocher was ahead of his time in being an "equal opportunity employer" who was without prejudice when it came to winning ball-games. He deserves credit and a footnote in sports history for the supporting role he played in facilitating Jackie Robinson's acceptance by his teammates and entrance into major league baseball.

Awards and Accomplishments

Durocher ranks seventh among Major League managers in career wins, with 2,009.
1936, 1938, 1940 National League All Star team
1939 Sporting News Manager of the Year
1941 Manages Dodgers to first pennant in 21 years
1946 Manages Dodgers to tie for first place in National League. Dodgers are beaten by St. Louis Cardinals in three-game playoff
1951 Bobby Thomson's "shot heard round the world" off Ralph Branca sends Giants, managed by Durocher, to World Series. Giants lose to Yankees in six games. Durocher is named Sporting News Manager of the Year
1954 Leads Giants to pennant. Giants sweep World Series against Cleveland Indians. Named Sporting News Manager of the Year
1994 Inducted into National Baseball Hall of Fame
Leo Durocher - Awards And Accomplishments [next] [back] Leo Durocher - Chronology

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