Leo Durocher and Laraine Day were considered the first couple of professional baseball in American during the Forties and Fifties.
The hard-nosed manager and the Mormon-bred actress married in 1947, and stayed together for the following 13 years in a relatively blissful union during which Day subordinated her career to Durocher’s reign as manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants. She was his third wife.
In all Durocher spent 17 years as a player, a superb shortstop for, among others, the “Murderers Row” Yankees of Babe Ruth. As a manager, “Leo the Lip” spent another 24 seasons most notably with the Dodgers, Giants and Chicago Cubs.
Durocher was often reviled by baseball officialdom for his penchant for hard play, umpire abuse and (allegedly) associations with shady underworld characters. Off the diamond, his marriage to Day made the couple highly popular personalities on both Coasts.
Although their marriage ended in 1960, it was Day who spoke eloquently at Durocher’s posthumous 1994 induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
In her speech Day pleaded for “Leo the Lip” to be reconsidered as the nice guy he mocked, according to biographer Paul Dickson whose recently published Leo Durocher: Baseballs Prodigal Son is required reading.
Now to the answers to our Quiz. Questions can be reviewed by scrolling down to the blog below. Here we go:
1) Answer: For some time bachelor Durocher would move in with (b) George Raft when visiting Hollywood. And, when Raft visited New York, he’d stay with Durocher. The two got along famously. The arrangement ended when official major league baseball began to raise questions about some of Raft’s associations (including with gangster Bugsy Siegel).
2) Answer: d) John Wayne, who loudly objected to Durocher’s visits to the set of a big-budget Technicolor drama, Tycoon, filmed during the early throes of Leo’s marriage to Day. As per Dickson, Wayne complained about Leo’s daily visits to the set, saying he was the most openly jealous husband he had ever met. …Wayne got so fed up that in order to keep Durocher off the set each day, he ordered it closed — the only time in his career he ever did so.
3) Answer: All were pals of Leo’s except (b) John Garfield.
4) Answer: b) False. Durocher was suspended by official baseball for the 1947 season, the year he married Day. She steadfastly stuck by her man. Their divorce, as mentioned above, didn’t come until much later.
5) Answer: Yes, indeed, a) True. Durocher welcomed tv appearances of all stripes and Mister Ed was among them in the fall of 1969.