Rod Dedeaux dead at 91

Rod Dedeaux, longtime baseball coach at the University of Southern California who played for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1935, died January 5 at the age of 91. Dedeaux won a record 11 NCAA Championships, a 28 consecutive conference titles and produced nearly 200 professional players and 60 future major leaguers. He died in Glendale, Calif., of complications from a stroke that he had on Dec. 2.

"A giant has passed away," said USC athletic director Mike Garrett, the Heisman Trophy-winning tailback who was an outfielder for Dedeaux in 1965. "This is a tremendous loss to USC and the entire baseball community. It leaves a huge void in all of baseball."

Major League stars who played for him, included Mark McGwire, Tom Seaver, Randy Johnson, Fred Lynn, Ron Fairly and Roy Smalley.

Born Raoul Martial Dedeaux in New Orleans, he moved to California as a youngster. He played three seasons for Southern California, and after being scouted by his mentor, Casey Stengel, Dedeaux appeared in two games at shortstop for the 1935 Brooklyn Dodgers, going 1-for-4 with an RBI.

"Just going into Ebbets Field was an exciting thing," said Dedeaux in an interview with MLB.com in September 2005. "I just loved those fans there and that was important to me. Unfortunately, I had gotten hurt earlier and was playing under quite a bit of pain, and it never bothered me to this day that I didn't have a longer career in the big leagues."

Dedeaux played three seasons for USC and two games at shortstop for the Dodgers. He often described his big-league career as: "I had a cup of coffee with no sugar in it."

Dedeaux started his coaching career at USC in 1942 as an assistant coach and became the head baseball coach in 1950.

Dedeaux had winning seasons in 41 of his 45 years with the Trojans, and during one stretch, USC went 37 years without a losing season. Dedeaux had the most wins in NCAA Division I history -- 1,332 -- until Cliff Gustafson of Texas surpassed him in 1994.

When Dedeaux retired in 1986, the USC baseball field had already been named in his honor for 12 years.

The Trojans' National Championships included five in a row from 1970-74 -- no other school has won more than two straight -- and the team won 28 conference titles under him. His players showed their respect for him in 2004 with a surprise party to celebrate his 90th birthday.

Dedeaux coached the first U.S. Olympic baseball team in Los Angeles in 1984 that had future Major Leaguers McGwire and Will Clark playing for him.

After his retirement as a coach, Dedeaux would spend a great deal of time at Dedeaux Field on the campus of USC.

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