|Shortstop, college baseball coach|
February 17, 1914|
New Orleans, Louisiana
|Died: January 5, 2006
|September 28, 1935 for the Brooklyn Dodgers|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 29, 1935 for the Brooklyn Dodgers|
|Runs batted in||1|
Raoul Martial "Rod" Dedeaux (February 17, 1914 – January 5, 2006) was an American college baseball coach who compiled what is widely recognized as among the greatest records of any coach in the sport's amateur history.
Dedeaux was the head baseball coach at the University of Southern California (USC) for 45 seasons. During this tenure, Dedeaux's teams won 11 national titles, including a record five straight titles from 1970 to 1974, and 28 conference championships. He was named Coach of the Year six times by the Collegiate Baseball Coaches Association and was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 1970. He was named "Coach of the Century" by Collegiate Baseball magazine. In 2006, Dedeaux was one of the 10 initial inductees to the College Baseball Hall of Fame.
Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, Dedeaux attended the University of Southern California, and after playing professional baseball briefly – he appeared in two games as a shortstop for the 1935 Brooklyn Dodgers – he turned to playing and coaching in the semi-pro and amateur ranks.
Dedeaux invested $500 to start a trucking firm, Dart (Dedeaux Automotive Repair and Transit) Enterprises, which he successfully built into a successful regional business. When his college coach, Sam Barry, entered the United States Navy during World War II, he recommended Dedeaux to take over the team in 1942 for the war's duration. Upon Barry's return in 1946, they served as co-coaches, with Dedeaux running the team each year until Barry finished the basketball season. .
Following Barry's death in September 1950, Dedeaux became the sole coach and proceeded to build on the early success to establish the strongest program in collegiate baseball. Prior to his retirement in 1986, Dedeaux's teams won 10 additional CWS titles – no other coach won more than 3 until 1997 – including five consecutively (1970–74).
At USC, Dedeaux coached dozens of future major leaguers, including Ron Fairly, Don Buford, Tom Seaver, Dave Kingman, Roy Smalley, Fred Lynn, Mark McGwire, and Randy Johnson. Throughout his USC career, he accepted a nominal salary of $1 per year, as his trucking business supplied a substantial income. He turned down numerous offers of major league coaching positions, including invitations from Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda to join his staff, always rejecting them due to his preference for the college game and his desire to remain close to his family.
He served as coach of the United States team at both the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, and the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, with baseball being a demonstration sport prior to its elevation to full medal status in 1988. He retired as the winningest coach in college baseball history and with a record of 1,332-571-11 (.699), and for the rest of his life remained an honored annual presence at the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. He was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association's Hall of Fame in 1970, and in 1999 was named the Coach of the Century by Collegiate Baseball magazine.
With USC playing its home games at Bovard Field, Dedeaux became known as "The Houdini of Bovard" for its come-from-behind home-field wins. In 1974 USC constructed a new baseball field named Dedeaux Field in honor of the coach.
Dedeaux also served as the baseball coach for actors and ballplayers on the 1989 film Field of Dreams. While Dedeaux was critical of the "phoniness that was in baseball movies", which he acquired working as an extra in the 1948 filmThe Babe Ruth Story, he accepted the task after reading the original novel Shoeless Joe, and brought Buford along to help him coach the cast. Phil Alden Robinson, who directed the film, said the following about Dedeaux:
- "All of the ballplayers in the movie were prepped for the film by Rod Dedeaux. He coached at USC for many years, and is a wonderful man, very full of life, energetic, very supportive, just really was very giving of himself and cheerful all the time, was a great spirit to have around. And one day, we were in between setups and I said, 'Hey, coach, what position did you play?' He said, 'I was a shortstop.' I said, 'Really, could you -- were you good?' He got very quiet, and he said, 'I could field the ball.' I said, 'Could you hit?' He said, 'I could hit the ball.' And he was strangely quiet. And I said to him, 'Well, how come you never played in the majors?' And he said, 'I did.' I said, 'Really?' [Dedeaux said] 'Yes, in 1930-something.' I forget what year he said. He was the starting shortstop for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He played one game, broke his back, and that was the end of his career. And I just blanched. I said, 'My God, you're Doc Graham.' He said, 'That's right.' And I said, 'Do you ever think about, "gee, the career I might've had."' And he said, 'Every day.' He said it very quietly. It was very out of character for him, and I was so touched by that. And I did look him up in the Baseball Encyclopedia: He did go, I think, 1-for-4 with an RBI. That was his lifetime stats. So having him be the man who trained all these fellows, including the kid who plays Doc Graham, was very meaningful to me, and I know it was to him, too. It was great to have him around. I think about that often, about what that must have been like, to be good enough to start with a Major League team, and for one unlucky moment, not be able to do -- the rest of your life takes another turn. What he did with that is, he put all of that emotion -- which could have gone into bitterness or regret -- into being a phenomenal coach. He sent more people to the majors than, I think, anybody else in college history. He's an amazing man."
Dedeaux was married to the former Helen Jones for 66 years. The couple had four children.
Death and legacy
Dedeaux died at age 91 in Glendale, California, of complications from a December 2, 2005 stroke. On July 4, 2006, he was a member of the first class of inductees into the College Baseball Hall of Fame.
- Rose, George (2004). One Hit Wonders: Baseball Stories. iUniverse. pp. 8–9. ISBN 9780595318070.
- Santelli, Robert; Santelli, Jenna (2010). The Baseball Fan's Bucket List: 162 Things You Must Do, See, Get, and Experience Before You Die. Running Press. pp. 200–01. ISBN 9780762440313.
- Murray, Jim (February 24, 1973). "Dedeaux' Dynasty". Eugene Register-Guard. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
- "Construction Begins On The Rod Dedeaux Research For Baseball Institute". Usctrojans.com. October 4, 2007. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
- "Dodgers to celebrate Rod Dedeaux Night on April 5". MLB.com. January 19, 2006. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
- "Rod Dedeaux Elected To College Baseball Hall Of Fame". CSTV.com. April 26, 2006. Retrieved June 21, 2013.
- Rod Dedeaux Statistics - Baseball-Reference.com
- The New York Times Biographical Service, Volume 12. The New York Times & Arno Press. 1981. p. 472.
- Miller, Doug (May 5, 2005). "Dedeaux honored by Louisville Slugger". MLB.com. Retrieved July 31, 2013.
- Habib, Daniel G. (June 14, 2004). "Crown Jewel". Sports Illustrated.com. Retrieved July 31, 2013.
- Peters, Ken (January 5, 2006). "Former USC baseball coach Rod Dedeaux dies at 91". USA Today. Associated Press. Retrieved June 21, 2013.
- "Dedeaux retires after 45 years". The Daily Courier. United Press International. June 4, 1986. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
- Blocker, Sue (July 13, 1988). "'Shoeless' Managers know game". Telegraph Herald. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
- "The 'Field of Dreams' Scrapbook", Field of Dreams DVD
- Audio commentary featuring Phil Alden Robinson and John Lindley, Field of Dreams DVD
- Goldstein, Richard (January 7, 2006). "Rod Dedeaux, 91; Led U.S.C. to 11 College World Series Titles". The New York Times. Retrieved June 21, 2013.
- "Winfield leads class of 10 into College Baseball Hall" July 4, 2006. Associated Press. College Sports (ESPN.com). Retrieved June 21, 2013.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- Trojan Family Magazine
- Rod Dedeaux at Find a Grave