Nearly 30 years after the 1919 Black Sox gambling scandal nearly killed major league baseball, Leo Durocher still didn't get it.
Warned repeatedly about associating with gamblers and underworld types, the dapper, loud-mouthed Brooklyn Dodger manager was suspended for an entire season by Commissioner A.B. "Happy" Chandler, 52 years ago today.
It remains one of baseball's most sensational suspensions, rivaling even those of Durocher's one-time Yankee teammate, Babe Ruth.
Ruth had defied a major league rule prohibiting exhibition games by World Series players after the 1921 Series. Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis first relieved Ruth of his $3,362 World Series check, then suspended him for the first six weeks of the next season--Page 1 news throughout the sit-down.
For Durocher to rival a Ruthian suspension was in a way a tribute to a guy known as a good-field/no-hit shortstop for 17 seasons. But, like Ruth, Durocher did not have an ordinary personality.
His competitive zeal once came out in an interview with writer Gilbert Millstein.
"Look, I'm playing third base," Durocher said.
"My mother's on second. The ball's hit out to short center. As she goes by me on the way to third, I'll accidentally trip her. I'll help her up, brush her off, tell her I'm sorry. But she does not get to third."
Durocher returned to the Dodgers in the 1948 season and in 1951 and 1954 guided the New York Giants to the World Series, winning in '54. He was 86 when he died in 1991.
Also on this date: In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson and 47,875 other fans watched the New York Yankees beat the Houston Astros, 2-1, in the inaugural game at Houston's Astrodome. Mickey Mantle hit the first home run in the first domed stadium. . . . In 1962, Arnold Palmer won his third Masters championship by shooting 68 in a playoff, defeating Gary Player and Dow Finsterwald. . . . In 1974, San Diego Padre owner Ray Kroc, 74, furious at his inept team, grabbed a microphone and yelled to the crowd: "I suffer with you. I've never seen such stupid ballplaying in my life!" As he spoke, a streaker ran across the field. "Send him to jail!" Kroc yelled.