ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The All American Out

Updated on August 20, 2012
Leo Durocher
Leo Durocher | Source
Hal Carlson
Hal Carlson | Source

Watch a big league ballgame on TV today and what do you see, when the cameras pan the dugout, besides the ubiquitous ads plastered everywhere? Not much going on in there. Lots of spitting, some chatting, about baseball, presumably, and sometimes, like when the ump is squeezing the pitcher or the batters, some jawing. What you don't see anymore are the bench jockeys. Seems they've all gone away.

In the old days, jockeying was an important part of the game and there were some good ones - Eddy "the Brat" Stanky, a lesser-known fellow named Hal Carlson, most of the 1934 Gashouse Gang. They knew how to do it. Bench jockeying wasn't about getting the other guy so mad he'd come looking for you after the ballgame or so mad he'd get himself kicked out of the game. It was walking a line, throwing the opponent off his game without getting yourself tossed. Get the other guy just mad enough so he'd be thinking about something you said and not about the next pitch.

A good bench jockey needed attitude and my favorite jockey, Leo "the Lip" Durocher, had plenty of attitude.

Leo was disliked by a lot of ballplayers, some of whom were his teammates, and by the fans, although the home town fans mostly adored him, and he was certainly universally disliked by the umpires. When Durocher retired from baseball, as a manager, he was second only to John Mcgraw in getting tossed, 117 dismissals to 95. No 1, apparently, despised Leo as much as his teammate, Babe Ruth, which is somewhat confounding. The Babe was, by all accounts, a pretty easygoing guy, a fun-loving guy, not a guy to hold a grudge, but Babe never got over whatever it was Durocher did to him.

Maybe it was the business with the watch

There are a number of different versions of the watch incident and like the Babe's famous called shot in the 1932 World Series, it maybe never happened.

Here's 1 version: In 1925, Babe Ruth and Leo were teammates. Babe was the biggest name in baseball and Durocher was a scrub and Durocher stole Ruth's watch. Or Ruth claimed he did, anyway, and they had a scuffle in the clubhouse and some say, before the 2 men were pulled apart, the 5’10", 160 pound Durocher was beating on the 6'2", 220 pound Ruth. Not smart, if you're a 19 year old, light-hitting rookie trying to make the ball club. It earned Leo a ticket back to the minor leagues, where he'd languish for 2 years before re-emerging in 1928. Durocher was, if nothing else, resilient. Whatever happened or didn't happen, Ruth spent the rest of his life baiting Durocher and calling him names and it must have been galling for Durocher, the 1 name that stuck - The All-American Out.

Years later, Durocher got his revenge. Babe's playing days were over and what he wanted was to manage a big league ball club and in 1938, it looked as if his dream might come true. He'd hooked on as a coach with the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Dodgers were awful but having Babe suited up and coaching along the baselines was selling tickets and Babe thought he had an understanding - he'd be the next manager. Durocher was on the ball club and he wanted to manage too and toward the end of the season, the 2 men got into it again, on the field this time, and with no record of who was winning the fight when the 2 men were pulled apart but over the winter, it was Durocher, not Ruth, who got the manager's job. The front office claimed Babe lacked maturity. Huh? And Leo didn't? I imagine the Babe really disliked Durocher after that, not that managing the Dodgers at the time would have seemed any great prize. The Dodgers were woeful but with Leo, they became contenders, Leo leading them to the National League pennant in 1941.

Babe Ruth wasn't the only baseball immortal Durocher messed with. In 1928 and back in the big leagues, and in another story that may or may not be true, Leo was the Yankee shortstop and Ty Cobb, finishing off his career, was on first base and the batter, another immortal finishing out his career, Tris Speaker, hit the ball into the outfield. Cobb came around second base and Leo gave him the hip, the hip, not the lip, and Mr. Cobb sprawled in the dirt and got up and got tagged out before he got to third and as Cobb was going off the field, he growled at Durocher, something about killing him later. Babe Ruth, in the dugout, told Leo to go ahead and mess with Cobb, if it's what you want to do, just, please, don't call him a penny pincher, which Leo did, of course, the next time Cobb stepped up to the plate. Cobb went after Leo; the umps and some players restrained Cobb and after the game, Cobb went after Durocher again, which, remember, isn't what a bench jockey wants, especially with someone as ferocious as Cobb. The umps, so vigilant in maintaining order during the ballgame, only shrugged on their way to the showers, now the game was over.

Leo, by his own account and no 1 else's, was running for his life and who saves him by putting his arm around Cobb and speaking soothingly, or at least long enough for Leo to vamoose? Babe Ruth. Babe Ruth saved Leo Durocher from the wrath of Cobb? Or maybe Ruth had ahold of Durocher, holding him until the enraged Cobb could get there and someone else, say, Lou Gehrig, who was a really nice guy, intervened.

Once, getting interviewed in the dugout and referencing the manager in the other dugout, Leo uttered his immortal words, perhaps the most famous quote in baseball history: "Nice guys finish last." The manager referenced? Mel Ott, 1 of the greatest sluggers in the history of the game and a man who was, by all accounts, as sweet a fellow as, well, Lou Gehrig.

Jackie Robinson Comic Book
Jackie Robinson Comic Book | Source

Leo, though, more than anything else, wanted to win and sure, sometimes wanting to win could make a man prickly, but under the right circumstances, it could make him a hero too.

It was in spring training, 1947, Leo was managing the Dodgers and just before Leo got his 1 year suspension for "consorting with gamblers," rumors were swirling - a black man had been signed to play for the team. Some of the Dodgers didn't like it and were grumbling and circulating a petition and Leo quickly squashed the rebellion. It wasn't necessarily about civil rights or equality or fairness with Leo. It was about winning. Leo had seen what Jack Robinson could do and wanted Jack on his ball club.

"Durocher with talent," is how Leo described Jackie.

Later, and managing the Giants, a floundering rookie begged Durocher to be sent back to the minor leagues. The kid said he couldn't cut it in the bigs. Leo coddled the kid. Coddled? Leo? Yup. Put his arm around the kid and told him he'd hit, and he did, oh, did he, and a few years later, a fellow on the team complained to Leo about the special treatment accorded the kid and Leo's response? That young man, soon as he fills out, is going to hit me 50 home runs a year, and you aren't. In other words, his name is Willie Mays, yours is something else.

Willie Mays
Willie Mays | Source

Leo was with the Dodgers in LA in the 60s, a coach under manager Walt Alston, another of those really nice guys. Walt and Leo had problems and it all boiled over in the dugout in the disastrous ninth inning of the third game of the historic Giants-Dodgers 1962 playoff. The Dodgers lost and soon after, Leo was gone. Not before he did some unusual scouting, though, playing himself on prime time TV and wooing Herman Munster and Jethro Bodine, 2 fearsome, if untamed, hitters, and Mr. Ed too; Ed it seems, had a knack for understanding the game, horse-sense, I guess you'd call it.

Leo had 1 last shot at baseball glory, managing 1 of the best Cub teams of the second half of the twentieth century. He had stars at just about every position and an 8 and a half game lead in August but alas, it was 1969, the Cubs faded, the Miracle Mets soared and Leo's career sputtered. He managed the Cubs for a few more years and the Houston Astros but was soon out of baseball.

Leo lived another 20 years or so and was snubbed by the Baseball Hall of Fame until 3 years after his death. Why so long? Well, Leo was never much of a hitter, .247 lifetime, but as a manager, he won more than 2,000 ballgames. And he did it the hard way, taking over mediocre ball clubs and making them into contenders. Maybe it took Leo all those years to get in because he wore people out. Maybe they needed to get over it. But ultimately, there had to be a place in the hall for a fellow who won all those games and whose career started at Yankee Stadium just 2 years after it opened and concluded in the Astrodome, a man who battled Ruth and Cobb and stood by Jackie and Willie, and who saw the potential in Herman and Jethro and who epitomized, for 50 years, the feisty National League. Maybe the hall snubbed Leo in his lifetime for fear of what he might say, did they allow him the opportunity to make a Hall of Fame speech. Too bad. It would have been 1 hell of a speech.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)