Leo ‘The Lip’ Leaves Dodgers for Giants
This is All-Star Week in Major League Baseball and all eyes are focused on activities like the Home Run Derby and the game itself, let's take a minute to relive some exciting news from baseball's past.
At a time when rivalries were super fierce, and baseball personalities were bigger than life it was on this day, July 16, 1948, that the combative manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Leo 'The Lip' Durocher, announced to the world he was leaving to manage the arch-rival New York Giants.
In 1948 in the vacuum without 24/7 media entertainment, when the NFL, NBA and even pro golf were almost non-existent, baseball ruled the lives of sports fans from coast to coast even though most teams were situated in the northeast. Breaking baseball news came to our grandparents via national network radio, and daily newspapers and when they heard and read Durocher was going from the Dodgers to the Giants it was as shocking and earth-shattering to them as hearing the 2016 presidential election results was to us.
The great shortstop and mediocre hitter, Durocher spent 17 seasons ending up with the Dodgers as player-manager from 1939-47. Prior to the '47 season, he was suspended the entire year from baseball for antics in his private life including gambling rumors and a torrid semi-illicit love affair and elopement with Hollywood actress Lorraine Day.
His nickname "The Lip" came from his combative attitude toward umpires and their on-field decisions, as well as his constant haranguing or 'trash talking' of other teams and players.
Think of Muhammed Ali and Terrell Owens with superchargers attached to their mouths.
Durocher managed the Giants on through 1955 including the day of Bobby Thompson's 'shot heard 'round the world' and a 4-0 World Series Sweep of the Cleveland Indians in 1954.
He ultimately returned to the Dodgers and was in an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies TV show in 1963 when he tried to recruit Jethro Bodine (Max Baer, Jr) as a Dodger pitcher.
In 1972-73 "The Lip" managed the Houston Astros, my father took us to the games as much to see Leo Durocher argue with the umpires as watch the game.
Overall Durocher as manager won 2,015 games, presently ranked 9th all-time, won three National League Pennants and one World Series.
Modern folks may best remember Leo Durocher for coining the phrase: "nice guys, finish last."
But on this day in 1948, Durocher's crossing town from the Dodgers to the Giants shook the baseball world.