FORMER USC baseball coach Rod Dedeaux was a backslapper who called everyone "Tiger," and he was fond of making his freshmen wear a red wig on road trips. He was also quick with a quip. Describing his major league career--two games with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1935--the former shortstop said, "I had a cup of coffee with no sugar in it." As laid-back as he was, Dedeaux, who died last week at 91 of complications from a stroke, got the most out of his players. One of them, former big leaguer Roy Smalley, said Dedeaux had the "ability to be a disciplinarian without you knowing he was." Dedeaux's 45 Trojans teams won a record 11 NCAA titles, and he sent nearly 60 players to the majors, including Mark McGwire, Randy Johnson and Tom Seaver.
Until last year he continued to work at the multimillion dollar transportation company he started in 1935 when he bought a truck with $500 of the $1,500 signing bonus he got from Casey Stengel. When asked for his formula for success, Dedeaux said, "First, you have to play smart, in baseball and business.... Secondly, stay loose. When we work, we work hard. But we have fun too. A little clowning always helps."
COURTESY USC (DEDEAUX)
BIG BOSS Dedeaux's 1984 silver-winning Olympic team had Johnson (left) and McGwire.