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Rod Dedeaux

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Raoul Martial Dedeaux

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[edit] Biographical Information

Rod Dedeaux, who was much more famous for coaching at the University of Southern California than for his brief time as a major league baseball player, appeared in two major league games.

Born in New Orleans, LA, he was an All-City baseball player in Los Angeles, CA in 1930-1931 while playing shortstop at Hollywood High School. He starred as a shortstop at USC from 1933 to 1935; he was one of the first major league players to come out of the university. Turning pro after graduation, he played at Dayton in 1935, hitting .360. He was with Hazleton in 1936 but had a back injury in 1937. In 1938 he was with the Tacoma Tigers in the Western International League and in 1939 he played in the Pacific Coast League for the San Diego Padres and Hollywood Stars.

When he played in the majors, with the Brooklyn Dodgers at the end of the 1935 season, his manager was Casey Stengel. One of his teammates was Al Lopez, who went on to have a long managerial career himself.

He was a baseball coach at the University of Southern California from 1942 to 1987. He led the team to ten College World Series titles- a record; he also won the 1948 College World Series title as co-coach with Sam Barry. The runner-up that year was a Yale team that started future President George H. W. Bush at first base. As a coach, he was known for stressing fundamentals, especially infield practice, which his teams would take religiously before every game, and focyussing on the mental aspects of the game: staying focused but relaxed, playing in the moment by relying on well-drilled instincts and not overthinking a play, and avoiding mental mistakes while keeping an optimistic outlook at all times. A favorite saying was "Never make the same mistake once", that is that the right outlook could eliminate the sorts of stupid mistakes that can sink an otherwise good team. He had a great sense of humor, was a tremendous bench jockey, and elicited great respect and loyalty from his players, who all state that he not only made them better players, but more prepared for life outside baseball. Major league stars would regularly turn up to play alumni games at USC, and he would invite his friends from the movie and entertainment industry to come and play along. The USC Trojans now play at Dedeaux Field, named in his honor.

Dedeaux held the record for NCAA wins (1332) until he was passed by Cliff Gustafson, who was, ironically, born on the same day as Dedeaux, only 17 years later.

He was coach of the United States Olympic team when baseball was a demonstration sport in 1964, in Tokyo, and in 1984, in Los Angeles.

Dedeaux founded the Japan-United States Collegiate Series in 1972 and was chairman of the event from 1972 to 1984. Dedeaux was honored by the Japanese government in 1996 with the Fourth Order of the Merit Cordon of the Rising Sun. he was also named to the College Baseball Hall of Fame, and in 1999 College Baseball magazine named him the "Coach of the Century".

Along with being a baseball player and manager, he was also president of Dart Transportation, Inc., a trucking firm he founded in the 1930s. He also served as baseball coach/advisor for both Field of Dreams and A League of Their Own.

Ron Dedeaux died of complications from a stroke on January 5, 2006.

[edit] Further Reading

  • Bob Leach: "'Never Make the Same Mistake Once': Remembering USC Baseball Coach Rod Dedeaux", in Jean Hastings Ardell and Andy McCue, ed.: Endless Seasons: Baseball in Southern California, The National Pastime, SABR, Number 41, 2011, pp. 38-41.

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