The Team That Forever Changed Baseball and America: The 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers

By Lyle Spatz; Maurice Bouchard et al. | Go to book overview
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Chapter 10. The Suspension of Leo Durocher

Jeffrey Martett

Pee Wee Reese and Hugh
Casey (standing), Pete
Reiser (shaking hands),
Gene Hermanski, and
Dixie Walker say good-
bye to Leo Durocher
following his suspension.

Leo Durocher made the cover of Time magazine just once: the April 14, 1947, issue. Published the day before Jackie Robinson broke into the Major Leagues with the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Time article did not cast the Dodgers’ manager in a kind light. The words “I don’t want any nice guys on my ball club” ran beneath Leo’s portrait. The background picture depicted Leo giving an umpire an earful of abuse, standard operating procedure for the manager nicknamed “The Lip.”

Just five days earlier, Durocher had been suspended from baseball for a year. Commissioner Albert “Happy” Chandler cited Durocher’s string of moral shortcomings: gambling debts, associations with known gamblers and nightlife figures, and a scandalous marriage with charges of adultery, bigamy, and contempt of court. Dodgers owner and general manager Branch Rickey often said Leo possessed “the fertile ability to turn a bad situation into something infinitely worse,” but Leo seemed finally to have hit rock bottom.1 Outside of Brooklyn, many baseball fans and observers gloated. Dodgers fans were devastated. Durocher’s suspension was shaping up as baseball’s “story of the year” before the season had even started.2

Then Robinson took the field in Brooklyn. Led by Burt Shotton, a sort of anti-Durocher, the Dodgers won the pennant. They pushed the Yankees to a seventh game before losing the World Series. Leo and his troubles had quickly receded

-50-

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