Former Dodger Coach Danny Ozark Dies

Danny Ozark, who coached for three years with the Dodgers and ranked third for most wins among Phillies managers, died May 7 at his home in Vero Beach, Fla. He was 85 years of age.

              Dodger owner Frank McCourt made the following statement regarding the passing of former Dodger coach and minor league player Danny Ozark.

  "Danny Ozark enjoyed a long and distinguished career in professional baseball, including more than three decades with the Dodger organization. He was a dedicated coach for the Dodgers under two Hall of Fame managers, Walter Alston and Tommy Lasorda, and he also won three division titles with the Phillies. Danny was a longtime fixture in the Vero Beach community after his retirement and was always especially welcome during Spring Training. He will be missed and our most sincere condolences go out to his family and everyone who knew him."  

Mr. Ozark was named the Phillies manager on November 1, 1972.  In his first five years, the Phillies won 71, 80, 86, 101 and 101 games.  They won three consecutive National League Eastern Division titles starting in 1976, a record unmatched by any other Phillies manager. Each year, however, the Phillies missed on advancing to the World Series.   

Mr. Ozark finished with a 594-510 record as Phillies manager (1973-79).  His winning percentage of .538 is seventh-best in team history. He was named Manager of the Year in 1976 by the Associated Press and The Sporting News.   

"Ginny and I really miss Philadelphia," Mr. Ozark said in a Phillies Magazine story published last month. "We enjoyed our time there. That city is a great sports town.  The fans are the greatest.  They do express themselves, but that's OK.  We made a lot of lifelong friends there."   

Mr. Ozark began his pro career as a first baseman in the Brooklyn Dodgers system in 1942. Following a minor league career, he turned to managing in 1956, with the Dodgers' Class B team in Wichita Falls. Over his nine years in the Dodgers farm system, his teams won 665 games and lost 648 and his 11963 Spokane club in the Pacific Coast League won 98 and lost 60. At the time it was the third best AAA record in the Dodgers franchise.   

Nine years later Mr. Ozark joined the Los Angeles Dodgers as a coach. After leaving the Phillies, he returned to the Dodgers as a coach (1980-82).  His career ended with the San Francisco Giants as a coach (1983-84) and their interim manager in 1984 (24-32).   

Born Daniel Leonard Orzechowski on November 24, 1923, in Buffalo, N.Y., he married Ginny Zdinski. The couple celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in February.  

In addition to his wife, Mr. Ozark is survived by two children, Dwain and Darlene; three granddaughters; and four great-grandchildren. His hobbies included golf and following the Phillies.  He was an active golfer in charity events conducted by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association.