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  • The Leo Durocher/Carl Furillo Feud

    I found a part of the article written by Arthur Daley (Sports of the Times) on the "Opening Day at Ebbets Field", which runningshoes53 posted in The Jackie Robinson Thread, very interesting and I think worthy of exploring further here.

    All BROOKLYN fans know of the feud between Leo Durocher and Carl Furillo, which ultimately resulted in Skoonj's broken hand/wrist in 1953, on his way to the NL Batting Title. What I now realize, after reading this article, is that it originated in the late 40's. Arthur Daley wrote....

    " Until all the master-minding and player juggling left (Clyde) Sukeforth (new Manager) slightly short of outfielders, Carl Furillo remained forgotten on the bench. The rookie sensation of a year ago had been in Durocher's well-occupied dog house all during spring training and it looked as though Leo the Lip had neglected to leave a key behind (after he left). Only time can tell whether or not Carl's escape is permanent."

    So, it seems that Skoonj must have had some kind of a "falling out of favor" with Leo before Leo was fired. Obviously, Leo never forgot it and continued to hold his grudge against Skoonj into the 50's, when as Manager of NY Giants he never let an opportunity pass to go after Carl, by telling his pitchers to hit him.

    Does anyone have any info on what originally set Leo off against Skoonj, perhaps in his rookie year? A discussion would be enlightening.

    c.

  • #2
    DODGER DEB: In "The Lip" by Gerald Eskenazi, a Durocher biography, he writes the following about when Branch Rickey announced that Durocher was out and Shotton in: "Furillo, volatile and no friend of Leo's, added, 'May the best man win has always been my motto'". This was in 1948, of course.

    Also in 1948, Durocher's own book, "The Dodgers And Me" was published. In it, he describes a 1946 game at Wrigley Field: "The last one, at Wrigley Field in Chicago, we lost because, with two out in the ninth, Furillo could not pick off a fly ball he should have put in his pocket. The wind whipped the flags in toward the diamond, and all afternoon I moved Furillo in. Now I failed to notice how far out he drifted. He could not make the catch, and it cost us the game."

    Perhaps this incident was the origin of their bitter feud. Especially with Durocher mentioning it in a book no less.

    Brownie31
    Last edited by Brownie31; 03-28-2006, 08:10 AM.

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    • #3
      Nothing direct in the papers. On March 30, 1946, the Times had a headline saying "Durocher Retains Confidence in Furillo and Hermanski" -- which wasn't a ringing endorsement but wasn't negative either.

      The episode Brownie31 notes took place on April 30, 1946. Ed Head, a week after his no-hitter, took a 1-0 lead into the 9th but couldn't hold it and the Cubs won in 11.

      In addition to that one, a very similar play took place on September 16 in the heat of the pennant race. I thought at first Leo's recall might have been off. Furillo -- who played mainly center field that year -- misjudged a ball at Ebbets Field in the 7th inning of a loss to the Cubs. He let it fall into short center for a single and then couldn't get the force at second. Bill "Swish" Nicholson hit a grand slam, the Cubs won 10-7, and the Cards took a two-game lead.

      Consider that Brooklyn lost at least four tough games to Chicago that year that could have helped avert the playoff with St. Louis. On July 11, Johnny Schmitz topped Joe Hatten 1-0 thanks to a run in the 9th. Then on August 28, the Cubs got two in the ninth to win 4-3. Furillo didn't contribute to either of those losses, but Durocher could well have blamed Carl anyway for the others.

      I think Durocher probably viewed Furillo as a bonehead -- a lot of people were prone to that, as Roger Kahn noted. And Kahn also observed that Furillo sized people up and made judgments that stuck. He hated Durocher and even boycotted Laraine Day's TV show in 1951. That was after the feud had escalated as Dodger Deb describes.
      Last edited by VIBaseball; 03-28-2006, 11:19 AM.

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      • #4
        I think Durocher probably viewed Furillo as a bonehead -- a lot of people were prone to that, as Roger Kahn noted.
        I didn't know anybody thought of Carl Furillo as a bonehead. He might have been a loner whose social skills were slightly underdeveloped but a bonehead? This was a common perception?

        Or are you saying that there were many people who Durocher thought were boneheads?
        Last edited by zman; 03-28-2006, 12:45 PM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by zman
          I didn't know anybody thought of Carl Furillo as a bonehead. He might have been a loner whose social skills were slightly underdeveloped but a bonehead? This was a common perception?

          Or are you saying that there were many people who Durocher thought were boneheads?
          I got that impression from "The Boys of Summer" -- in the Furillo chapter, Kahn described how Carl got the nickname "Rock" from teammates (Pete Reiser, as I recall), portraying it as an undeserved knock on his intelligence.

          Of course, aside from this (mis)perception of Furillo's book smarts, baseball intelligence is a different matter. It seems to me that Brownie31's theory, and I tend to agree, is that Carl got in Leo's doghouse because of this. He wasn't the only one, but because of their personality clash, it took off from there. And it's ironic because Furillo was an excellent student of the game.
          Last edited by VIBaseball; 03-28-2006, 01:21 PM.

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          • #6
            OUR Skoonj was most certainly not a "bonehead", and anyone who actually called him that didn't know him very well....and that includes Roger Kahn. Roger is a terrific writer and I have loved all his books, but sometimes Roger's quirky personal feelings got in the way of his being truly objective. True, Skoonj was no social butterfly and was not part of any "click" on OUR team, but he could have been a "joiner" with a little help from all sides. He just was not very comfortable in a social setting, but he definitely was not stupid.

            All of that seemed to change when, of all people, Sal Maglie, came over to OUR side in 1956. Sal was a sweetheart, and he and Skoonj became fast friends, strange as that seemed at the time. They really enjoyed each other's company. One could make the argument that the reason for their friendship was because they were both Italian.....perhaps, but I can tell you it was genuine and they were fun to be around. I was close enough to OUR Team to tell you that I never saw Skoonj smile more, or "kid around" more than during the 1956 and 1957 season. I have a wonderful story about them, which happened on OUR road trip in 1957, that I will be including in my book.

            While I know that Skoonj didn't like Leo at all, and Leo returned that feeling, Leo always acted like he was better than Skoonj, something BROOKLYN fans really resented. What WE did appreciate was the fact that Skoonj never backed away from Leo, no matter what. A BROOKLYN DODGER to the core!

            c.

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            • #7
              DD and zman -- I think Roger Kahn fully appreciated what certain teammates did not. Again, it seems to me this part of "Boys of Summer" takes the knocks on Furillo's brainpower from his early days with the club and tries hard to set the score straight.

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              • #8
                I can see why Carl Furillo might not have been a favorite of the scribes, VI. He wasn't a gabby attention seeker full of colorful quotes like Durocher. I think you're right about his friendship with Maglie too, Dodger Deb. It probably had as much to do with their shared personalities as their ethnic backgrounds. You might attribute a certain fatalistic outlook on life to their families' european background but they seemed similar in other respects too. Both seemed very workmanlike and unimpressed by flash. Maybe that's why Carl didn't hit it off better with Durocher. Despite the circumstances that led up to it, I think Carl looked comfortable with himself wearing a construction helmet and carrying a lunch pail. It just seemed to suit his personality.
                Last edited by zman; 03-28-2006, 02:13 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by DODGER DEB
                  OUR Skoonj was most certainly not a "bonehead", and anyone who actually called him that didn't know him very well....and that includes Roger Kahn. Roger is a terrific writer and I have loved all his books, but sometimes Roger's quirky personal feelings got in the way of his being truly objective. True, Skoonj was no social butterfly and was not part of any "click" on OUR team, but he could have been a "joiner" with a little help from all sides. He just was not very comfortable in a social setting, but he definitely was not stupid.

                  All of that seemed to change when, of all people, Sal Maglie, came over to OUR side in 1956. Sal was a sweetheart, and he and Skoonj became fast friends, strange as that seemed at the time. They really enjoyed each other's company. One could make the argument that the reason for their friendship was because they were both Italian.....perhaps, but I can tell you it was genuine and they were fun to be around. I was close enough to OUR Team to tell you that I never saw Skoonj smile more, or "kid around" more than during the 1956 and 1957 season. I have a wonderful story about them, which happened on OUR road trip in 1957, that I will be including in my book.

                  While I know that Skoonj didn't like Leo at all, and Leo returned that feeling, Leo always acted like he was better than Skoonj, something BROOKLYN fans really resented. What WE did appreciate was the fact that Skoonj never backed away from Leo, no matter what. A BROOKLYN DODGER to the core!

                  c.
                  DODGER DEB: For a real scathing appraisal of Durocher, try Eldon Auker's "Sleeper Cars and Flannel Uniforms". Auker, who is still living well into his mid-90s, was a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, St. Louis Browns and Boston Red Sox from 1933-1942. Chapter three of his outspoken memoir is entitled "Stealing from the Babe and other Baseball Black Eyes" and is devoted entirely to ripping into Durocher.. Auker was a 1934 Tiger and pitched against Durocher and the other Gas House Gang members in the '34 World Series. He appears to have despised Durocher every bit as much as Skoonj. Auker, incidentally, is the last surviving person to have pitched to Babe Ruth.

                  As to Furillo being a "bonehead" that is ridiculous on it's face: A bonehead could hardly be a starter on seven pennant winners!

                  In re Skoonj not being a social butterfly, well neither was Lou Gehrig! Skoonj was a solid blue collar Greatest Generation sort of guy-the backbone of this country.

                  As to Durocher looking down on Skoonj: Maybe this was because Skoonj never buddied around with Bugsy Siegel and George Raft!

                  Brownie31

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Brownie31
                    DODGER DEB: For a real scathing appraisal of Durocher, try Eldon Auker's "Sleeper Cars and Flannel Uniforms". Auker, who is still living well into his mid-90s, was a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, St. Louis Browns and Boston Red Sox from 1933-1942. Chapter three of his outspoken memoir is entitled "Stealing from the Babe and other Baseball Black Eyes" and is devoted entirely to ripping into Durocher.. Auker was a 1934 Tiger and pitched against Durocher and the other Gas House Gang members in the '34 World Series. He appears to have despised Durocher every bit as much as Skoonj. Auker, incidentally, is the last surviving person to have pitched to Babe Ruth.

                    As to Furillo being a "bonehead" that is ridiculous on it's face: A bonehead could hardly be a starter on seven pennant winners!

                    In re Skoonj not being a social butterfly, well neither was Lou Gehrig! Skoonj was a solid blue collar Greatest Generation sort of guy-the backbone of this country.

                    As to Durocher looking down on Skoonj: Maybe this was because Skoonj never buddied around with Bugsy Siegel and George Raft!

                    Brownie31
                    I haven't read the book itself but I have read this excerpt...

                    http://www.baseballlibrary.com/baseb...lden_auker.stm

                    Very sad if true.
                    Last edited by zman; 03-28-2006, 03:05 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by zman
                      I haven't read the book itself but I have read this excerpt...

                      http://www.baseballlibrary.com/baseb...lden_auker.stm

                      Very sad if true.
                      zman: Yes, very sad indeed. Brownie31

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by zman
                        I can see why Carl Furillo might not have been a favorite of the scribes, VI.
                        I remember Kahn got into that too, although he described how Carl actually admired Dick Young (not everybody was with him there). But it seemed that Furillo and Kahn always had a good rapport ("for reasons I never knew, he accepted me").

                        I guess I hadn't expressed myself clearly enough before.

                        * My basic point is that Furillo may well have gotten in Durocher's doghouse because of the key misplays in '46.
                        * Kahn said only that in Carl's early days, various teammates -- not Kahn himself -- knocked his intelligence.
                        * I've tried to stress that this was a misperception in Kahn's view, and we all feel this was a bum rap too.
                        Last edited by VIBaseball; 03-28-2006, 06:28 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by VIBaseball
                          I guess I hadn't expressed myself clearly enough before.
                          You expressed yourself perfectly well. I'm just a little slow on the uptake sometimes. It's like that Abbott and Costello routine.

                          Bud: Did you ever go to school, stupid?

                          Lou: Yes, sir. And I come out the same way.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The basic reason for the feud -- from Carl himself

                            Kahn in "The Boys of Summer"

                            "I started having trouble with Durocher the year after that [1947]," he said in the Otis shack. "A guy's no good, he's no good. He didn't want to play me against righthanders, and [journalist] Mike Gaven asked how I liked being platooned. He asked. I had to tell. I didn't like it. He wrote the story. Durocher said, 'Hey, kid. You trying to run my team?' Why didn't he get on Gaven?"

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                            • #15
                              Sounds to me like young Carl was a straight shooter who wasn't yet aware that the rest of the world wasn't neccessarily playing by the same rules. This incident must have been a real eye opener for him and led to his wariness of the press and Leo early on. Another manager might have advised Carl about dealing with the press and nurtured the kid. Not to bad mouth Leo but that obviously wasn't the way he was with Carl.
                              Last edited by zman; 03-29-2006, 05:56 PM.

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