Leo Durocher Biography
Summary of Leo Durocher's life and baseball accomplishments.
Leo Ernest Durocher was born in West Springfield, Massachusetts on July 27, 1906. Durocher came from a poor family and had little formal education. He learned quickly that he must depend on his skill and wits if he wanted to succeed in life.
When Durocher was a young ballplayer, there were no minor league teams, spring training camps or batting coaches to help improve players' skills. He had to work hard at improving himself. His playing career began with the New York Yankees in 1928 where he played shortstop. The Yankees went on to win the American League pennant and the World Series that year. In 1934, Durocher was playing with the St. Louis Cardinals who also won the pennant and a World Series. He was named to the National League All-Star team in 1936 and 1938. His playing days ended in 1945 when he was with the Brooklyn Dodgers as a player and a manager.
Durocher is remembered as a remarkable manager more so than as an outstanding player. The first team he managed in 1939 was the Brooklyn Dodgers. Within two years there, Durocher led the Dodgers to their first pennant in 19 years. The Yankees hired two coaches away from the Dodgers before the 1947 season. The departure of Charlie Dressen and Red Corriden angered Durocher who then accused the Yankees' President, Larry McPhail of associating with known gamblers. The baseball commissioner, A. P. "Happy" Chandler suspended Durocher for an entire season after investigating the incident. Durocher returned to the Dodgers in 1948 and stayed with them until mid-season when he left to take over as manager of the cross-town rival New York Giants. Durocher stayed with the Giants for 8 seasons and led them to pennants in 1951 and 1954 and also the 1954 World Series Championship. When he was released from his contract with the Giants following the 1955 season, Durocher tried sports broadcasting from 1956 to 1961 before returning to baseball.
In 1961, Durocher became a coach for the Los Angles Dodgers, who had been the Brooklyn Dodgers prior to 1958. He was hired to manage the Chicago Cubs in 1966 and received Manager of the Year honors the following year. Durocher stayed with the Cubs until August of 1972. He went on to manage the Houston Astros through the 1973 season. After that, Durocher retired permanently.
In his 24 seasons as a manager, Durocher's teams won 2008 games and lost 1709 games giving him a lifetime winning percentage of .540. His lifetime batting average for 17 seasons was .247. Durocher was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994.
Durocher died in Palm Springs, California on October 7, 1991 and is buried at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.