On The Firing Line Gone are the days when Brooklyn and L.A. managers just faded away

July 05, 1998

See if you can place the following in their correct
chronological sequence, from earliest to most recent.

1) The day the Dodgers fired their manager, Bill Russell, in
midseason.

2) The day the Dodgers previously fired a manager in midseason.

3) The day the 19th century ended.

The correct order is 2, 3, 1. In this century the Dodgers had
changed managers in midseason only three times, always after the
incumbent (Leo Durocher, Walt Alston and Tommy Lasorda, newly
resurrected as general manager) resigned. By contrast, the
Angels, the Dodgers' Southern California neighbors, have fired
skippers during a season so many times (nine, including three in
an impressively unstable stretch from 1976 to '78) that Disney,
which owns the team, could schedule the event as a promotional
night.

With Russell axed, the longest run without a midseason firing
now belongs, improbably, to the Pirates, who haven't ousted a
manager-in-progress since Bill Virdon in 1973. We will spare you
all the obvious comparisons between the Dodgers and the Yankees,
save one: While it took the Dodgers just more than a century to
fire two managers in midseason, Yankees owner George
Steinbrenner once accomplished the feat in 102 days.

History augurs poorly for incoming Dodgers manager Glenn
Hoffman, the first major league manager since 1946 to have a
brother (Padres' closer Trevor) playing in the same league. In
'46 Bill Dickey ran the Yankees while his brother George caught
for the White Sox, but Bill didn't last the season; in fact,
there have been only two previous same-league manager-player
brother acts in this century, and neither lasted even two years.

The tradition of Dodger Dignity may have been rooted at least in
part in how badly things turned out the last time they dumped a
skipper in midstream. Manager Bill Barnie of the 1898 team (then
known as the Bridegrooms) was booted in favor of his protege,
Mike Griffin, the popular team captain. Four games later Griffin
quit, and Brooklyn president Charlie Ebbets managed the team for
the rest of the season. Griffin, who had continued to play
centerfield for the Bridegrooms, was reappointed as Brooklyn's
player-manager for 1899 at a salary of $3,500. But Ebbets, his
franchise foundering, had to merge the team with his National
League rivals in Baltimore, the Orioles, who brought their own
skipper, Ned Hanlon, with them. Griffin, offered a raise to
$3,800 but not managerial duties, refused to report to spring
training, claiming he had been guaranteed the manager's job.
Brooklyn released him, and he eventually ended up with the St.
Louis Perfectos.

At that point Griffin gave up all hope of managing but demanded
his $3,500. When he didn't get it, he quit baseball, leaving
behind five straight .300 seasons and a lawsuit--ultimately
successful--for part of that blasted salary.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)