He was Leo Ernest Durocher, also known as “Leo the Lip” and “LIppy.” To say he was controversial and outspoken is an understatement.
Durocher was an infielder who played on the greatest 1920’s New York Yankee teams with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Later Durocher was the shortstop on the infamous St. Louis Cardinals “Gashouse Gang” team of the 1930’s. Durocher was a winner wherever he went. As a manager he piloted both the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants to great success. When he retired he ranked number five among major league managers having scored 2,008 career wins in his Hall of Fame career.
But wherever he went, Leo Durocher clashed with authority and opponents in a big way. He had a fiery temper. “Nice guys finish last” was his credo. Part of his managerial strategy was ordering his hurlers to throw at hitters. When he wanted his pitcher to hit a batter, the cry would ring out from the dugout, “Stick it in his ear!”
We don’t see this anymore the way baseball has changed, but Durocher was a manager who was forever standing toe-to-toe arguing with umpires. And then after several minutes of vehemently jawing away, getting ejected from the game. It happened 94 times to Durocher! In the history of baseball, only three managers can top this dubious distinction: Bobby Cox, John McGraw, and Earl Weaver.
One of Durocher’s ejections was during a pre-game meeting for arguing an umpire’s call from the previous day!
As for players who thrown out of ball games the most, Durocher tops that list. Jackie Robinson ranks third, and Casey Stengel, again, as a player, comes in at number five on this list of dubious distinction.
All of this begs the question — where does the temper-laden, irascible Ty Cobb figure in this? He was thrown out of 15 games. Cobb’s reputation has been unfairly maligned, as true baseball historians understand. Turns out the seemingly calm and amenable Honus Wagner was ejected more times than Ty Cobb.
Brooks Robinson played 2,896 games in the major leagues. He was never once tossed from a game by any umpire. Ernie Banks played 2,528 games. Same story. No ejections. Harmon Killebrew: 2,435 games. Never thrown out of a game. Gil Hodges: 2,071 games with no ejections. He was, however, tossed seven times during his stint as a manager. These four gentleman had nothing but sterling reputations as players, and as human beings who conducted themselves with decorum both on and off the baseball diamond.
Proving that nice guys don’t always finish last after all.