January 14th, 2020


Somewhere, Leo Durocher is laughing

The manager and general manager of the Houston Astros have been fired and suspended for stealing other teams’ signs. The technology was new, but the crime was an old one. It is now widely believed that Bobby Thomson hit the home run heard ’round the world because Leo Durocher had an agent in the center field seats with a telescope relaying the catcher’s sign to him.

That’s the kind of guy Leo was: Win at any cost and treat the concept of unwritten rules as a contradiction in terms. (There was then no rule against spying from the bleachers.) Five years earlier his team also won the National League pennant (but he was not allowed to be there, suspended for having a sex life offensive to the Roman Catholic Church). That time the unwritten law he ignored forbade having a player who was the wrong color.

His spiritual heir was Al Davis, who bugged the visiting team’s locker room and was in the forefront of hiring Blacks and women, both to gain an edge. He would have signed Kaepernick.