Dressen in 1951.
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
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 powerful Brooklyn Dodgers of 1951–1953. 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.
Pro football quarterback and big league third baseman
Dressen was a veteran baseball man when he took the reins in Brooklyn after the
- REDIRECT Template:Baseball year season. Born in Decatur, Illinois, he threw and batted right-handed and was listed at Script error: No such module "convert". tall and Script error: No such module "convert".. 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 in 1922–1923.
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 career. Dressen played for the Cincinnati Reds from 1925–1931, and was the club's starting third baseman from 1926–1929. He also was a late-season utilityman for the
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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 an active player for the Giants during the pennant drive. 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 advised Giants' first baseman and player-manager Bill Terry how to pitch and defend Bolton, whom Dressen knew from managing against him in the Southern Association. Bolton promptly bounced into a double play and the New Yorkers won the game to take a 3–1 lead in the Series, which they ultimately won in five games. The incident stamped Dressen as a potential Major League Baseball manager.
Association with Larry MacPhail
After returning to Nashville at the outset of
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- REDIRECT Template:Baseball year, 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
- REDIRECT Template:Baseball year. 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.
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MacPhail left baseball after the Yankees' 1947 world championship (gained at Brooklyn’s expense) and Harris was sacked after the
- REDIRECT Template:Baseball year season. Dressen was not retained by the new Yankee manager, Casey Stengel, but instead replaced Stengel as the manager of the Oakland Oaks of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. He skippered the Oaks in 1949–1950 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
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Leader of Brooklyn's 'Boys of Summer'
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
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Brooklyn charged into first place early in the
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Then, however, the Giants 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. The Giants thus forced a flat-footed tie at season’s end and a best-of-three playoff. 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
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Struggles in Washington and Milwaukee
Dressen returned to Oakland to manage the PCL Oaks in 1954 while he sorted out his Major League future, then was hired to manage the Washington Senators, who had finished 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. The 1955 Senators finished eighth and last, the 1956 edition finished seventh, and the '57 team 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
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After leaving Washington, Dressen rejoined the newly relocated Los Angeles Dodgers to serve as a coach under Alston in 1958–1959. When the '59 Dodgers won the World Series, Dressen was in demand as a manager once again, and the Milwaukee Braves, who had lost a pennant playoff to Los Angeles at the end of the
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- REDIRECT Template:Baseball year. Milwaukee was only three victories short (two in 1956 and one in 1959) of four National League pennants in four seasons, and still boasted Hall of Famers Henry Aaron, Eddie Mathews and Warren Spahn, but the players around them had begun to fall off in production and the Brave 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, but a full seven games behind, and were 71–58 and in fourth place late in
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Reviving the Tigers
- REDIRECT Template:Baseball year, Dressen was out of uniform, scouting for the Dodgers, when his final managing opportunity presented itself. 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
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By now, however, Dressen's health began to fail. A heart attack sidelined him during
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Known for his sunny self-confidence, Dressen would often tell his highly talented Dodgers, "Just hold them, boys, until I think of something." His career major league managerial record was 1,037–993 (.511).
- Dressen's birthdate has been revised from 1898, as was commonly reported in The Sporting News' Baseball Register and Macmillan's Baseball Encyclopedia, to 1894 by both Baseball Reference and Retrosheet.
- The New York Times, August 11, 1966, quoted in thedeadballera.com
- The Biographical Dictionary of American Sports, page 411
- Chuck Dressen made manager of Cincinnati
- Dressen fired from Cincinnati post
- Lowenfish, Lee, Branch Rickey: Baseball's Ferocious Gentleman. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2009, page 425
- The Associated Press, 1953.01.10
- Dressen quits Dodgers in contract wrangle
- Wally Alston named Dodger Manager, succeeding Dressen
- The Christian Science Monitor, "Hall of Famer Alston batted once in Majors, but managed 23 years," 1983.03.18
- Povich, Shirley, "Schemeboat on the Potomac," Baseball Digest, May 1955
- Charley Dressen choice official
- Chuck Dressen takes over floundering Detroit Tigers
- Chuck Dressen stricken; heart attack No. 1 topic
- 2nd attack for Dressen
- Jolly Charlie Dressen dies at 67
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- Baseball-Reference.com - career managing record
- Chuck Dressen at Find a Grave
- Chuck Dressen on YouTube on What's My Line? (1953)