Remembering Rod

 

Dedeaux.JPGLast Monday, January 5, was the two-year anniversary of the passing of my best friend, Rod Dedeaux.

I would like to take a moment to remember Rod, and some of the great things he did for the game of baseball.

I met Rod in 1963.  At that time he was the head baseball coach at the University of Southern California.  By the end of his career he put in about 44 years at USC, and was selected as the College Baseball Coach of the Century, which was just one of his many honors. 

Believe me, that was a well deserved acclaim.

I heard a lot about Rod before I met him because I had played with guys who had played for him at USC.  They all had great things to say. 

So I knew a lot about him, but he didn’t know anything about me.  I was a scout for the Dodgers and had just moved to Southern California from Pennsylvania.

Upon meeting him, we became instant friends, and until the day he died two years ago last Monday, we were inseparable.  We would go to the same functions, speak together in front of crowds, our families became friends and we would just go everywhere together.  He would take me to the Coliseum for football games, and for 40+ years, every SC football game I went to was with Rod.

Since the two years he’s been gone I haven’t been back to an SC game yet.  I just can’t do it.  I just can’t walk into the Coliseum without him.

I miss him tremendously.

But he was a great coach.  Everybody loved the guy.  His interest was not just about college baseball, but he worked very hard to build a bridge with Japanese baseball.  When I was selected as the manager of the 2000 USA Olympic team, I took him with me.  He was the coach of our Olympic team for many years, but was never able to win a Gold Medal.

Rod spent a month with me and my team in Sydney.  The kids on our team just loved him.  He played a vital role in us winning that gold medal because he spent as much time as he could talking to each of the players and helping them believe in themselves, and helping them get better.

He was great at that.  He was a wizard when it came to handling players.  He could get the maximum from each player, and got them to play for the name on the front of the jersey and not for the name on the back.

Losing Rod was like losing a brother. 

5 Comments

That guy sounds a lot like you Tom,”Play for the name on the front of the jersey not for the name on the back”
That’s the kind of players we need to win.

Tommy,
I’m so sorry about your loss, and Rod sounds like a really great guy as you say! Very touching how you haven’t been back to the Coliseum without him–it was tradition. He seems like a very inspirational guy.
http://redsoxgirl46.mlblogs.com

Dear Tommy,
I will always keep this note about your dear friend Coach Rod. It’s a tribute from the heart about true friendship. Like you, he is a unique individual that changed many lives for the good. I met him too in 1963 at USC, after a high
school all-star game. After that game he asked me to apply to USC and join the greatest college baseball program ever.
I would never be able to repay him for the gift of USC.

Some of my most memerable and enjoyable moments have
been watching you and Rod hold court at various sporting events. You never cease to make the player and the fan feel important. You always had a kind word for my ability as
a player and would set me straight when some of my comments were out of line. I know the Dedeaux family misses your presence at the football games, as I do. Tommy, The Hall of Fame was created for gentlemen like you and Coach Rod. Stay well my friend.
Shelly

Tommy;
Ive been doing research on Rod! Would love to talk to you sometime.

http://kenthadley.blogspot.com/2009/10/kent-hadley-with-usc-baseball-coach-rod.html

Uncle Tom,

I just saw this and it’s a great write up. It’s always hard to read articles about him. I miss him too. I’ve been trying to get in touch with you to meet up at a game.

Marc (Justin’s son)

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