Hollywood star Laraine Day dies at 87

Laraine Day, an actress remembered in Dr. Kildare movies in the 1940s, died recently at the home of her daughter in Ivins, Utah, at the age of 87. But to Dodger fans, she was remembered as Mrs. Leo Durocher.

. Durocher, of whom Brooklyn president Branch Rickey once said, "could take a bad situation and immediately make it worse," managed the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1938-47 and part of 1948.

Leo had met Ms. Day, who was married, through mutual friends and they later fell in love. The divorce was granted Ms. Day, but not on amicable terms, when her husband accused Durocher of breaking up his happy home. The headlines did not please Rickey.

The divorce was finally granted but would not be effective in California for a year, so the couple flew to Mexico and were married. That infuriated the judge who granted the divorce, creating more troublesome headlines.

Happy Chandler, then commissioner of baseball, was investigating Durocher's connections with bookmakers, who Durocher admitted knowing but claimed he had nothing to do with.

Finally, when Larry MacPhail, formerly president of the Dodgers but then in a similar position with the Yankees, was seen at a Dodger-Yankee exhibition game in 1947 in the same box with with the gamblers Chandler warned Durocher to stay away from, Leo pointed them out to newsmen at the game and claimed the commissioner had a double standard.

Dissing the commissioner anytime is bad form, and after the other events it took on added meaning. After a hearing, Durocher was banned from baseball for a year but was never informed of the exact reason.

Burt Shotton took over the Dodgers, including rookie Jackie Robinson, and won a pennant. Leo came back in 1948, had mixed success and was fired/traded/released (depending on which story you choose to believe) to become the manager of the New York Giants in mid-season.

The whole story is much more complicated than this Readers Digest version but one has to think that the chance meeting with a beautiful Hollywood star was the turning point of the entire rhubarb.

Ms. Day starred in three dozen films from the 1930s to the 1960s but with the two of them having conflicting careers, divorced Durocher after 13 years of marriage.

She kept her love of baseball, ignited by the marriage to Durocher, and later said, "Let someone else be the world's greatest actress. I'll be the worlds greatest baseball fan."

Durocher won a pennant in 1941 with Brooklyn. He won 738 games and lost 565 for a .567 percentage over 8 1/2 seasons (at the time second only to Wilbert Robinson) after playing shortstop for them 1938-45.

He would win a pair of pennants for the Giants and go on to manage the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros. He also returned as a Los Angeles coach 1961-64. He died in 1991 and was elected to the Hall of Fame after his death.