Bavasi started his career in baseball with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1939 as the team's traveling secretary and eventually made his way up to general manager in 1951. Bavasi was one of the few front office executives who survived Walter O'Malley's takeover of a controlling interest of the Dodgers after the 1950 season in a boardroom battle with Branch Rickey.
Bavasi's Dodger teams won four World Series: 1955, 1959, 1963, and 1965 and also lost World Series in 1952, 1953, 1956, and 1966. Bavasi resigned from the Dodgers in 1968, in part because he knew that O'Malley intended to pass control of the team over to his son Peter and also to get the chance to start fresh with the expansion San Diego Padres in 1969.
He also served as the Padres team president from 1969-1977 before moving over to serve as executive vice president of the Calfornia Angels from 1978-1984. Bavasi's son Bill is the general manager of the Seattle Mariners. Another son, Peter, served as GM for the Padres from 1973 through 1976, the Toronto Blue Jays from 1977 through 1981, and for the Cleveland Indians in 1986.
A few years ago, I got an email from Buzzie Bavasi. He was actually looking for Rob Neyer, but I thought it was pretty cool nonetheless. As he told me in his message, "You know, at my age you can only be expected to remember so much stuff right." Nevertheless, I thought it was cool to have an image of a guy who signed Sandy Koufax getting up every morning to check to see where his name turned up on Google.
(Initial reports said that Bavasi was born in 1914, but I've found more sources that say he was born in 1915 and was just 92. I believe his birthday is 12/12/1915.)
“Money was scarce many times during my career, particularly during our early years in San Diego,” Bavasi recalled in his autobiography. “Every time we got a player with any value we would sell him. In one short span in the early ’70s, I sold Al Santorini to St. Louis, Al Ferrara to Cincinnati and Ed Spiezio to the Chicago White Sox. Then my phone rang.
“ ‘Am I next?’ the voice on the other end asked before hanging up.
“It was my mother calling from Florida. She was 81 at the time.
“I immediately phoned her back. ‘What’s the matter?’ I said.
“ ‘Well, you sold three Italians in a row. I figured I was next.’ ”
Checking the Padres transactions, Bavasi almost remembered it perfectly, except the three Italian players who were dealt in succession were Ferrara, Chris Cannizaro, and Santorini. Spiezio was dealt to the White Sox next year.
But for a guy who dealt with farm systems that had over 500 players in it for much of his tenure with the Dodgers, I think that Bavasi did a good job of remembering who was who.