Thursday, May 7, 2009

Danny Ozark, 1923-2009. R.I.P.

Former major league manager Danny Ozark has died. He was 85.

Ozark was a career minor leaguer in the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers organizations eventually becoming a player-manager in 1956. He would see the big leagues for the first time in 1965 as a member of the Dodgers' coaching staff under Walter Alston where he served until 1972.

In 1973, Ozark was named the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies who had finished with the worst record in MLB in 1972. Ozark would guide the Phillies to three consecutive National League East Division titles from 1976 to 1978. However, the Phillies never reached the World Series as they were defeated in the NLCS by the Reds in 1976 and by the Dodgers in both 1977 and 1978. When the Phillies struggled in 1979, Ozark was fired and replaced by Dallas Green who would guide the Phillies to their first World Series title in 1980.

Ozark would rejoin the Dodgers coaching staff in 1980 but he and Dodgers manager Tommy LaSorda did not get along. In 1983, Ozark became a coach for the San Francisco Giants. He got one last chance to manage in the big leagues when the Giants fired Frank Robinson during the middle of the 1984 season. However, the Giants fortunes did not improve and he too was let go.

What Ozark might be best remembered for are his malapropisms. Consider these gems:

"Half of this game is 90% mental."

"Even Napoleon had his Watergate."

"That's completely beyond my apprehension."

MLB will never see the likes of Danny Ozark again. Then again there's always Ozzie Guillen.

From one Oz to another.

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