Charles Walter Dressen (September 20, 1894 – August 10, 1966), known as both Chuck and Charlie, was an American third baseman, manager and coach in professional baseball during a career that lasted almost fifty years, and was best known as the manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers of 1951–53. Indeed, Dressen's "schooling" of a young baseball writer is one of the most colorful themes in Roger Kahn's classic memoir, The Boys of Summer. He threw and batted right-handed and was listed at 5 feet 5 inches (1.65 m) tall and 145 pounds (66 kg) during his days as an active player.
Dressen in 1951.
|Third baseman / Manager|
|Born: September 20, 1894|
|Died: August 10, 1966 (aged 71)|
|April 17, 1925, for the Cincinnati Reds|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 1, 1933, for the New York Giants|
|Runs batted in||221|
|Career highlights and awards|
Born in Decatur, Illinois, Dressen was a veteran baseball man when he took the reins in Brooklyn after the 1950 season. He began his professional career with the Moline Plowboys of the Class B Three-I League in 1919. Despite his small stature, Dressen also played professional football during his apprenticeship as a minor league baseball player. He was a quarterback for the Decatur Staleys (a forerunner of the Chicago Bears) in 1920 and the Racine Legion of the National Football League in 1922–23.
After he turned to baseball full-time in 1924, Dressen batted .346 in the top-level American Association, paving the way for his 646-game Major League Baseball playing career. Dressen played for the Cincinnati Reds from 1925–31, and was the club's starting third baseman from 1926–29. He also was a late-season member of the 1933 New York Giants. All told, he batted .272 with 603 hits in the majors.
Dressen began his managerial career in 1932 with the Nashville Vols of the Southern Association. He interrupted that assignment late in 1933 to fill in as a third baseman for the Giants during the pennant drive. When regular Johnny Vergez was forced out of the lineup because of appendicitis, Dressen started a dozen September games and batted .222.
Although he didn't play during the 1933 World Series, he helped the Giants win Game 4. With New York leading the game by a single run in the bottom of the 11th inning, the opposition Washington Senators loaded the bases with one out, and sent up rookie pinch hitter Cliff Bolton. On his own initiative, Dressen called time, ran from the dugout, and told Giants' first baseman and player-manager Bill Terry how to pitch and defend Bolton, against whom Dressen had managed in the Southern Association. Bolton promptly bounced into a double play and the Giants won to take a three-games-to-one lead in the Series, which they ultimately won in five games. The incident stamped Dressen as a potential major league manager.
After returning to Nashville at the outset of 1934 to resume his successful minor league managerial career, Dressen was called to Cincinnati to manage the last-place Reds on July 29, 1934. The Reds rose as high as fifth place under him, winning 74 of 154 games in 1936, but when they fell back into the National League basement in 1937, Dressen was fired.
Despite his poor won-lost record (214–282, .431) in Cincinnati, Dressen made a valuable ally in the Reds’ mercurial general manager, Larry MacPhail. A year after MacPhail became president of the Dodgers in 1938, he named fiery shortstop Leo Durocher player-manager and Dressen as his third base coach. Under MacPhail and Durocher, the Dodgers became a hard-playing pennant contender, winning Brooklyn's third NL pennant of the modern era in 1941. But when MacPhail resigned in October 1942 to rejoin the armed forces and was succeeded by Branch Rickey, Dressen was fired from Durocher's staff — reportedly because he refused to eschew betting on horses. He was on the sidelines for the first three months of the 1943 season before being rehired by the Dodgers that July.
As the Second World War was ending, MacPhail returned to baseball as part owner, president and general manager of the New York Yankees. Following the 1946 campaign, he raided the Dodger coaching staff, signing Dressen and Red Corriden as aides under his new manager, Bucky Harris. The raids contributed to a public feud between MacPhail on one side and Durocher and Rickey on the other. Commissioner of Baseball Albert B. Chandler suspended Durocher for the entire 1947 season for "conduct detrimental to baseball", suspended Dressen for 30 days for signing a Yankee contract while still an employee of the Dodgers, and fined both clubs and some of their employees.
MacPhail left baseball after the Yankees' 1947 World Series victory over the Dodgers, and Harris was sacked after the Bombers' third-place 1948 finish. Dressen was not retained by Harris' successor, Casey Stengel, but instead he replaced Stengel as the manager of the Oakland Oaks of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. He skippered the Oaks in 1949–50 and his teams finished second and first, winning 104 and 118 games. Simultaneously, a power struggle for control of the Dodgers ended in Walter O'Malley forcing Rickey out of the Brooklyn front office. When O'Malley fired Rickey associate Burt Shotton in the autumn of 1950, he chose Dressen to manage the 1951 Dodgers.
Dressen's Dodgers, unlike his Reds of a decade and a half before, were a perennial contender in the National League, with a lineup that included four future members of the Baseball Hall of Fame — Roy Campanella, Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson and Duke Snider. They had won pennants in 1947 and 1949, lost a playoff for the title in 1946, and come within a run of forcing another playoff for the 1950 National League pennant.
Brooklyn charged into first place early in the 1951 season, while the New York Giants — led since July 16, 1948, by Durocher himself — struggled (despite the callup of the 20-year-old rookie Willie Mays). When the Dodgers completed a three-game sweep of the Giants at Ebbets Field on August 10, the Brooklyn lead over the Giants reached 12½ games. Dressen proclaimed, "The Giants is dead". The following day, when Brooklyn won the first game of a doubleheader against the Boston Braves and the Giants fell to the Philadelphia Phillies, the Dodger lead stood, albeit briefly, at 13½ games.
However, the Giants then began to win. With Sal Maglie, Larry Jansen and Jim Hearn anchoring their starting rotation — and (according to some accounts) with a "spy" stealing opponents' signs from their center-field clubhouse at their home field, the Polo Grounds — the Giants won sixteen in a row in August and 37 of their last 44 games (.841) while the Dodgers went 26–22 (.542) over the same period. At the end of the regular season, the teams were tied, necessitating a best-of-three game playoff to determine who won the league pennant. In the ninth inning of the decisive third game at the Polo Grounds, Dodger starting pitcher Don Newcombe had a 4–2 lead and two men on base when Dressen decided to go to the bullpen, where Carl Erskine and Ralph Branca were warming up. "Erskine is bouncing his curve", the manager was told by his bullpen coach, Clyde Sukeforth. Dressen summoned Branca, whose second pitch to Bobby Thomson was hit into the lower left-field stands for a three-run homer, a 5–4 Giants win, and a National League pennant — Baseball's "Shot Heard ‘Round the World".
Dressen kept his job in 1952 (Sukeforth resigned, while denying that the Branca decision was a factor in his departure) and for the next two seasons, the Dodgers dominated the National League, winning 201 regular-season games and capturing the pennant by margins of 4½ and 13 lengths. But they came up short against Stengel's Yankees in the World Series both times, losing in seven games in 1952 and six in 1953. Fresh from winning the 1953 pennant with 105 regular-season victories, Dressen decided to publicly demand a three-year contract from O’Malley instead of the customary one-year deal the Dodgers then offered their managers. When O'Malley didn't yield, Dressen effectively resigned when the owner allowed his old contract to expire. He was replaced by Triple-A Montreal Royals manager Walter Alston — a veteran minor leaguer who was then a relative unknown to Brooklyn fans and media. Alston went on to sign 23 consecutive one-year contracts with O'Malley, while winning seven NL pennants, four World Series, and a berth in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Dressen returned to Oakland to manage the PCL Oaks in 1954 while he sorted out his big-league future, then was hired to replace Bucky Harris at the helm of the Washington Senators, who had gone 66–88 to finish sixth in the eight-team American League in 1954.
Dressen inherited a second division team with a poor farm system. Nevertheless, baseball observers predicted that he would rouse the Senators from their doldrums with his managerial acumen. On September 30, 1954 (Season 5 Episode 3), Dressen himself appeared on the Groucho Marx quiz program, You Bet Your Life, and predicted that the Senators would finish in the first division (fourth place or higher). His former boss O'Malley said, "Dressen will steal at least six games for Washington in 1955." Dressen also told his team, "I guarantee we won't finish in sixth place again." He was right – but the 1955 Senators (53–101) finished eighth and last, the 1956 edition (59–95) finished seventh, and the 1957 club was 4–16 (and last again) on May 7, 1957, when Dressen was fired. His Senators won only 116 of 328 games — a winning percentage of .354. The team's next winning season would have to wait until 1962, after the franchise had become the Minnesota Twins.
After leaving Washington, Dressen rejoined the newly relocated Los Angeles Dodgers to serve as a coach under Alston in 1958 and 1959. When the 1959 Dodgers won the World Series, Dressen was in demand as a manager once again. The Dodgers' then-archrivals, the Milwaukee Braves, were seeking to replace Fred Haney, their veteran manager who stepped down after his club lost the 1959 National League tie-breaker series to Alston's Dodgers. The Braves (1957–58) and Dodgers (1955–56; 1959) dominated the late-1950s National League, winning every pennant over the last half of the decade. Milwaukee was only three victories short (two in 1956 and one in 1959) of four consecutive NL championships. On October 24, 1959, the Braves named Dressen their field boss for 1960.
Milwaukee's roster still boasted Hall of Famers Henry Aaron, Eddie Mathews and Warren Spahn. But the star players around them, including regulars Del Crandall, Joe Adcock, Bill Bruton, Wes Covington and Johnny Logan, and ace starting pitcher Lew Burdette, began to tail off in production, and the Braves' farm system could not keep up. Dressen was not able to reverse the Braves' slow decline to the middle of the NL pack. They again finished second in 1960 (going 88–66), but a full seven games behind, and were 71–58 and in fourth place late in 1961 when Dressen was replaced on September 2 by Birdie Tebbetts.
In 1962, Dressen returned to the minor leagues for one last assignment. He managed the Toronto Maple Leafs of the Triple-A International League, who had a working agreement with the Braves, to 91 victories.
As the 1963 season began, Dressen was out of uniform, scouting for the Dodgers. But after the Detroit Tigers won only 24 of their first 60 games under Bob Scheffing, Dressen was hired on June 18 to take over the team. He rallied the Tigers to a 55–47 record for the remainder of 1963, a first division finish in 1964, and was mentoring many of the key players who won the 1968 World Series for Detroit, including Denny McLain, Willie Horton, Mickey Lolich, Dick McAuliffe, Bill Freehan and others.
However, by his third year with Detroit, Dressen's health began to fail. In 1965, a heart attack sidelined him during spring training and he didn't return as the Tigers' manager until May 31. Then he suffered a second coronary early in the 1966 campaign, on May 16. He was recovering from the heart attack when he was stricken with a kidney infection, and died of cardiac arrest in a Detroit hospital on August 10, 1966. Because Dressen's year of birth was commonly listed as 1898 during his baseball career, his age was reported to be 67 at his death. However, recent sources such as Baseball Reference and Retrosheet have "backdated" his birth year to 1894, making him 71 years of age at his passing. He is interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.
Known for his self-confidence, Dressen often told his star-studded Dodgers, "Just hold them for a few innings, fellas. I'll think of something." His career big league managerial record was 1,008–973 (.509), including a 298–166 (.642) mark in Brooklyn.
|Team||From||To||Regular season record||Post–season record|
|W||L||Win %||W||L||Win %|
| Oakland Oaks manager
| Toronto Maple Leafs manager
The 1919 Decatur Staleys season was the first in the team's long existence. It was also the only season in which the Staleys-Bears team was amateur, not a member of the National Football League or managed by George Halas. The team was industrial team, which was made up purely of regular A. E. Staley Manufacturing Company employees, and posted a 6–1 record to win the Central Illinois Championship.1927 Cincinnati Reds season
The 1927 Cincinnati Reds season was a season in American baseball. The team finished fifth in the National League with a record of 75–78, 18½ games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates.1937 Cincinnati Reds season
The 1937 Cincinnati Reds season was a season in American baseball. The team finished eighth and last in the National League with a record of 56–98, 40 games behind the New York Giants.1950 Brooklyn Dodgers season
The 1950 Brooklyn Dodgers struggled for much of the season, but still wound up pushing the Philadelphia Phillies to the last day of the season before falling two games short. Following the season, Branch Rickey was replaced as majority owner/team president by Walter O'Malley, who promptly fired manager Burt Shotton and replaced him with Chuck Dressen. Buzzie Bavasi was also hired as the team's first independent General Manager.
Vin Scully joined the Dodgers' radio and television crew as a play-by-play announcer in 1950; in 2016, Scully entered his 67th consecutive season with the club, the longest such tenure in the history of sports broadcasting, that season was the first wherein his voice, as well as of Red Barber's, was broadcast on television station WOR-TV, making the Dodgers the last New York City MLB team to introduce regular television broadcasts, 11 years following the first broadcasts of 1939.1954 Brooklyn Dodgers season
The 1954 Brooklyn Dodgers season was the first season for new manager Walter Alston, who replaced Chuck Dressen, who had been fired during a contract dispute. Alston led the team to a 92–62 record, finishing five games behind the league champion New York Giants.
In addition to Alston, the 1954 Dodgers had two other future Hall of Fame managers on their roster in pitcher Tommy Lasorda and outfielder Dick Williams. First baseman Gil Hodges and reserve infielder Don Zimmer would also go on to successful managerial careers.1955 Washington Senators season
The 1955 Washington Senators season was a season in American baseball. The team won 53 games, lost 101, and finished in eighth place in the American League. They were managed by Chuck Dressen and played home games at Griffith Stadium.1956 Washington Senators season
The 1956 Washington Senators won 59 games, lost 95, and finished in seventh place in the American League. They were managed by Chuck Dressen and played home games at Griffith Stadium.1957 Washington Senators season
The 1957 Washington Senators won 55 games, lost 99, and finished in eighth place in the American League. They were managed by Chuck Dressen and Cookie Lavagetto and played home games at Griffith Stadium. The Senators set a Major League record which still stands for the fewest stolen bases by a team in a season, with only 13.1960 Milwaukee Braves season
The 1960 Milwaukee Braves season was the eighth for the franchise in Milwaukee, and the 90th overall. The Braves finished in second place in the NL with a record of 88–66, seven games behind the NL and World Series Champion Pittsburgh Pirates.1961 Milwaukee Braves season
The 1961 Milwaukee Braves season was the ninth in Milwaukee and the 91st overall season of the franchise.
The fourth-place Braves finished the season with a 83–71 (.539) record, ten games behind the National League champion Cincinnati Reds. The home attendance at County Stadium was 1,101,411, fifth in the eight-team National League. It was the Braves' lowest attendance to date in Milwaukee, and was the last season over one million.1966 Detroit Tigers season
The 1966 Detroit Tigers season was the 66th consecutive season for the Detroit franchise in the American League. The Tigers, who had finished fourth in the ten-team AL in 1965 with an 89–73 record, won one fewer game in 1966, going 88–74, but moved up to third in the league, ten full games behind the eventual world champion Baltimore Orioles. The team attracted just over 1.124 million fans to Tiger Stadium, fifth in the ten-team circuit.Bob Scheffing
Robert Boden Scheffing (August 11, 1913 – October 26, 1985) was an American professional baseball player, coach, manager and front-office executive. Nicknamed "Grumpy", the native of Overland, Missouri, is most often identified with the Chicago Cubs, for whom he played as a catcher (1941–42, 1946–50), coached (1954–55), and managed (1957–59). Scheffing threw and batted right-handed; he was listed as 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m) tall and 180 pounds (82 kg).
As a Major Leaguer, Scheffing batted .263 with 357 hits in 517 games with the Cubs, Cincinnati Reds (1950–51) and St. Louis Cardinals (1951). His career began in 1935 in the Cardinals' farm system, but he was unable to crack the Major Leagues until he was selected by the Cubs in the 1940 Rule 5 draft. En route to the Majors, he spent the 1939 season as the 25-year-old playing manager of the Washington Red Birds of the Class D Pennsylvania State Association.Bob Swift
Robert Virgil Swift (March 6, 1915 – October 17, 1966) was an American professional baseball player, coach, manager and scout. He played in Major League Baseball as a catcher, standing 5 feet 11 inches (1.80 m) tall and weighing 180 pounds (82 kg). He threw and batted right-handed.
Swift is pictured in one of the most famous photographs in American sporting history. He was the catcher for the Detroit Tigers on August 19, 1951, when St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck sent midget Eddie Gaedel to pinch hit during an actual MLB game. The stunt was inspired by the James Thurber short story You Could Look It Up and Gaedel was allowed to bat when the Browns showed the umpires a legitimate baseball contract. Swift knelt on the ground to receive pitcher Bob Cain's offerings—it is this kneeling stance that is captured in the photo—and Gaedel took a base on balls. He was immediately replaced at first base by a pinch runner and he never appeared in a big league game again; he had had no baseball experience in the first place.Con Strouthers
Cornelius "Con" Strouthers was a baseball manager in the late 19th century and early 20th century. From 1895 to 1896, he was the third manager of the Detroit Tigers during their time in the Western League before they became a major league team in 1901. In 1904 he was the manager of the Augusta Tourists of the South Atlantic League or "Sally League" when he invited Ty Cobb, who would go on to a Hall of Fame career with the Tigers, to join the club.Frank Dwyer
John Francis Dwyer (March 25, 1868 – February 4, 1943) was an American right-handed pitcher and manager in Major League Baseball with the Chicago White Stockings (1888–1889), Chicago Pirates (1890), Cincinnati Kelly's Killers (1891), Milwaukee Brewers (1891), St. Louis Browns (1892) and Cincinnati Reds (1892–1899).Frank Skaff
Francis Michael Skaff (September 30, 1910 – April 12, 1988) was an infielder, coach, manager and scout in American Major League Baseball. Skaff served as acting manager of the Detroit Tigers for the latter half of the 1966 season after his two immediate predecessors in the post were stricken with terminal illnesses.Fritz Fisher
Frederick Brown "Fritz" Fisher (born November 28, 1941) is an American former professional baseball player. A left-handed pitcher who attended the University of Michigan (where he compiled a 21-9 record, including a 9-1 mark in his senior year in 1962), Fisher played five years in minor league baseball and was a standout at the Double-A level, but in his only Major League appearance, in April 1964 for the Detroit Tigers, he was treated roughly and gained only one out. In one-third of an inning, Fisher yielded two hits, four earned runs and two bases on balls.
Fisher was listed at 6 feet 1 inch (1.85 m) tall and 180 pounds (82 kg). After a successful professional debut with the Double-A Knoxville Smokies and impressing manager Chuck Dressen during workouts in 1963, Fisher was added to the Tigers' 40-man spring training roster for 1964. He was kept on the team's early-season 28-man squad. During Detroit's fourth game of the American League campaign, on April 19 at Tiger Stadium, Fisher made his debut in relief the ninth inning with the Tigers trailing the Minnesota Twins, 8–3. The first batter he faced was a future Hall of Famer, Harmon Killebrew, and Fisher struck him out. But that was the only out he recorded; he walked the next two batters and gave up run-scoring hits to Jerry Zimmerman and Camilo Pascual before being relieved by Ed Rakow, who allowed the inherited runners to score.Fisher spent the rest of 1964 with Knoxville and the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs, and he retired after the 1967 season, never returning to the Majors. His minor league record of 44 wins and 25 defeats and a 3.05 earned run average in 103 games included a 33–15 (2.66) mark at the Double-A level.List of Detroit Tigers managers
The Detroit Tigers are a professional baseball team based in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers are members of the American League Central Division in Major League Baseball. In baseball, the head coach of a team is called the manager, or more formally, the field manager. The duties of the team manager include team strategy and leadership on and off the field. The team initially began in the now defunct Western League in 1894, and later became one of the American League's eight charter franchises in 1901. Since the inception of the team in 1894, it has employed 47 different managers. The Tigers' current manager is Ron Gardenhire, who was hired for the 2018 season.The franchise's first manager after the team's arrival in the American League was George Stallings, who managed the team for one season. Hall of Famer Hughie Jennings, who managed the team from 1907 to 1920, led the team to three American League championships. Jennings however was unable to win the World Series, losing to the Chicago Cubs in 1907 and 1908 and the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1909. The Detroit Tigers did not win their first World Series until 1935 under the leadership of player-manager Mickey Cochrane. Steve O'Neill later led the Tigers to another World Series victory again in 1945. The Tigers would not win another World Series until 1968 World Series when the Tigers, led by Mayo Smith, defeated the St. Louis Cardinals. Sparky Anderson's 1984 Detroit Tigers team was the franchise's last World Series victory, and marked the first time in Major League Baseball history that a manager won the World Series in both leagues. In total, the Tigers have won the American League pennant 10 times, and the World Series 4 times.
The longest tenured Tiger manager was Sparky Anderson. Anderson managed the team for 2,579 games from 1979 to 1995. Hughie Jennings, Bucky Harris and Jim Leyland are the only other Detroit Tiger managers who have managed the team for more than 1,000 games. Anderson's 1331 wins and 1248 losses also lead all Tiger managers, while Cochrane's winning percentage of .582 is the highest of any Tiger manager who has managed at least one full-season. Seven Hall of Famers have managed the Tigers: Ed Barrow, Jennings, Ty Cobb, Cochrane, Joe Gordon, Bucky Harris and Anderson. Barrow was elected as an executive, Jennings and Anderson were elected as managers; the others were elected as players.Oakland Oaks (PCL)
The Oakland Oaks were a minor league baseball team in Oakland, California that played in the Pacific Coast League from 1903 through 1955, after which the club transferred to Vancouver, British Columbia. The team was named for the city and used the oak tree and the acorn as its symbols.