Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame
Being selected to be in the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame is a great honor for me. I managed the Spokane Indians from 1969-71, and the Albuquerque Dukes in 1972. Some of my best memories are from that period of my career, as my players and I had fun on, and off, the field. I am the first manager to be inducted into the PCL Hall of Fame in over 50 years, and it?s an honor because of the history of the PCL, but also because it is a reflection of the contribution of my players.
As manager, you live and die on wins. The problem is, I never got a hit, I never struck anyone out. My players did that, and they are really responsible for my wins. Luckily for me, I had some really good players. As manager, my job was to take those young players and make them better. I had to show them what it would take to get to Dodger Stadium. We would work on the fundamentals of baseball all day long. I?ll tell you one thing; when a player left me and went to the big leagues, you can bet he knew how to play the game of baseball. I would throw my guys endless hours of batting practice, hurling curveball after curveball until they saw them in their sleep.
It is a documented fact that in my eight years of managing in the minor leagues, 75 players left me and went on to play big league baseball. When I became the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1977, 23 of the 25 players on that roster were Dodger products, many of whom played for me in either Spokane or Albuquerque. I?m talking about guys like Ron Cey, Steve Garvey, Bobby Valentine, Davy Lopes, Von Joshua, Charlie Hough. And the list goes on and on. Those guys knew what a privilege it was to be a major league baseball player, and what a privilege it was to wear the Dodger Uniform.
This honor marks the sixth hall of fame in which I am enshrined. I have a place in Cooperstown in the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in Chicago, the Montgomery County Coaches Hall of Fame, the South Atlantic League Hall of Fame and this June I will be inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. All of them represent a special time in my life, as does this induction. On May 19th, Branch Rickey, the President of the PCL, will present my Hall of Fame plaque to me in a pre-game ceremony here at beautiful Dodger Stadium, which I like to call Blue Heaven on Earth. I hope you can be here to join me in the celebration.