SI Vault
 
LEO DUROCHER IS NO LONGER MANAGER OF THE GIANTS. LAST SUNDAY HIS CAREER CAME TO A NORMAL, SPECTACULAR CLOSE
Robert Creamer
October 03, 1955
Bill Rigney had been Leo Durocher's heir apparent since 1954 when he ended his quiet major league career (eight years of journeyman in-fielding for the New York Giants; a .259 lifetime average) to become the manager of the minor league Minneapolis Millers. The fine job he did there this year strengthened the feeling that he would be the one to succeed Leo.
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
October 03, 1955

Leo Durocher Is No Longer Manager Of The Giants. Last Sunday His Career Came To A Normal, Spectacular Close

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2

In the dugout he talked to Frank Frisch for a while and then led a flock of reporters out through a runway leading from the dugout to a small television studio under the stands.

There Leo appeared as guest master of ceremonies on his wife's pregame television show. Laraine Day was in the Middle West. Via prepared film clips she announced to the television audience that Leo was pinch-hitting for her.

He did an excellent, professional job, handling himself before the cameras with poise and assurance. He talked to A.P. Reporter Joe Reichler about his retirement, cued in the commercials, nodded near the end when the director whispered, "You have 30 seconds. Just talk."

He talked, though not quite so glibly as he had earlier. As his time neared its end, he smiled into the cameras, thanked the fans for their support, waved his hand and said so long.

Except that when he said, "So long," his voice wouldn't work. His voice broke on the phrase. Then the program was over. The room was quiet as a church. The director said, "Good." Leo Durocher, not speaking, walked swiftly away from the cameras.

Durocher's last day was almost a spectacular one. His Giants won the first game of a double-header handily, 5-2. His Willie Mays hit his 51st home run of the year. His pitching selection, Rookie Pete Burnside, pitched a fine ball game. But in the second game the Giants came to bat in the last inning of Durocher's reign trailing by two runs.

Almost as if they wanted to give Leo a farewell present, the Giants rallied. Joe Amalfitano singled and Whitey Lockman walked. Bob Hofman, one of the best clutch hitters the Giants have ever had, was at bat. He rocketed one of Curt Simmons' fast balls on a line toward center field. Amalfitano and Lockman were running for all they were worth. But Ted Kazanski, Phillie shortstop, speared the ball for one out and flipped to Bob Morgan at second for two; Morgan lobbed it on to Marv Blaylock at first base for a triple play to end the inning, the game, the season and Leo Durocher's career.

It was symptomatic of the way the season had gone for Leo Durocher. He walked back across the outfield grass to the center-field clubhouse, dressed quickly and was gone.

1 2