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Legendary college baseball coach Rod Dedeaux passes away
2006-01-05 18:45
by Bob Timmermann

It hasn't been a great couple of days for the Cardinal and Gold. One day after the Rose Bowl defeat, the greatest coach in college baseball history, Raoul Martial Dedeaux, better known as Rod, passed way at age 91 in Glendale, California. Dedeaux led USC to 11 NCAA baseball championships, including 5 in a row from 1970-74.

The USC Sports Information Department was obviously prepared and had an extremely informative obituary ready for Dedeaux.

Dedeaux coached an astounding 59 future major leaguers during his tenure at USC. The list includes a Hall of Famer, Tom Seaver and a likely Hall of Famer, Mark McGwire. He coached a father and son set of big leagers in Don and Damon Buford. Eric Enders points out that Dedeaux actually missed coaching the younger Buford. He coached two key members of the 1975 AL Champion Red Sox in Fred Lynn and Bill Lee. He also convinced a tall southpaw named Randy Johnson to go to USC.

For six seasons, Dedeaux was the co-coach of the Trojans with Sam Barry, who was better known as USC's basketball coach. Since 1924, USC has had four baseball coaches: Sam Crawford, Barry, Dedeaux, and the present coach Mike Gillespie.

Dedeaux played in two games in the major leagues, both for Brooklyn in 1935. His first appearance came on September 28, 1935 before a paid crowd of 184 people at Ebbets Field against the Phillies. Dedeaux, just 20 years old, came in as a late-inning defensive replacement for shortstop Lonny Frey. His final appearance came the next day in the second game of a doubleheader that closed out the season. Dedeaux started at short and went 1 for 4 against Hal Kelleher and Jim Bivin. The game was called after 8 innings because of darkness with the scored tied 4-4.

Sadly, college baseball coaches never get the same notoriety as their football and basketball brethren. But the baseball world lost one of its greatest figures today.

Update - There appears to be some discrepancies between USC's press release and Baseball-Reference's list: Damon Buford didn't play for Dedeaux. But Randy Johnson, Rene Lachemann, Barry Latman, Jim McAnany, and Al Silvera did.

2006-01-05 19:23:19
1.   Cliff Corcoran
Dedeaux made a cameo appearance in the Mark McGwire profile in Howard Bryant's Juicing the Game this past summer. Before that I'd never heard of him. Now he's gone. From what I can tell, though, he had a great life.
2006-01-05 20:13:55
2.   Eric Enders
Despite what the USC obit says, Dedeaux didn't quite get to coach Damon Buford. Dedeaux retired in 1986 and Buford started at USC in 1988.
2006-01-05 20:18:41
3.   Bob Timmermann
Trade Damon Buford for Randy Johnson.
2006-01-05 20:21:09
4.   Eric Enders
Montreal Expos:
2006-01-05 20:24:53
5.   Jon Weisman
I lost to Damon and Don Jr.'s middle brother, Daryl, in the race for 8th grade president. The outcome ended my political career.
2006-01-05 22:04:51
6.   Linkmeister
SC and ASU seemed to specialize in turning out big league players for a while. At one point it seemed like one-third of the Oakland As were from ASU.

Sal Bando, Reggie Jackson, Rick Monday, Hubie Brooks, Ken Landreaux, Bob Horner; for pitchers, Gary Gentry and Larry Gura. Oh, yeah, some guy named Barry Bonds, too.

I saw Gura pitch against Rich Hinton of UofA once. Hinton also made it to the big leagues for a couple of years.

Dedeaux is nearly a legend. Kind of like the Bear Bryant of college baseball. He'll live on in a lot of folks' memories.

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