Baseball Executive Emil "Buzzie" Bavasi '38 Recalls DePauw Days with Fondness
April 12, 1982
April 12, 1982, Greencastle, Ind. - Emil J. "Buzzie" Bavasi, executive vice president and general manager of the California Angels and 1938 graduate of DePauw University, has some great stories to tell about the game of baseball. One of his favorites is from his student days in Greencastle, on April 24, 1936 when the famous "Gashouse Gang" of the St. Louis Cardinals visited campus for an exhibition game versus DePauw. Some of baseball's biggest names -- including Dizzy Dean, Pepper Martin and Joe Medwick -- walked the campus as awestruck students stared.
The morning of the game, Bavasi -- who played catcher on the Tiger team -- recalls watching in awe as Dean devoured an entire box of Wheaties during breakfast at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house.
The game itself was tight through eight innings, Bavasi recalls, with the visiting stars holding a 3-2 lead. With a Cardinal runner on first base and Martin at bat, Bavasi correctly anticipated a bunt, but Martin missed the ball. Bavasi quickly threw to first base to pick the runner off, but at the same time, Martin pulled an extra baseball out of his sleeve and rolled it to the pitcher's mound. The umpire was convinced that a major leaguer would not resort to the hidden ball trick and allowed the runner to remain at first base. The Cardinals went on to rally and win the game 16-3.
Bavasi originally planned to attend the University of Notre Dame, until he received some advice from baseball broadcaster and 1915 DePauw graduate Ford Frick, whose son was Bavasi's best friend. "He felt DePauw was the school for me. He was right," Bavasi says.
"When I got out of DePauw, the graduation present from my mother was a year off to do whatever I wanted," he recollects. "I went down to Clearwater, Florida, where the Dodgers were training, just to watch. When I came back, I saw a game with the Fricks. When we were leaving, Mr. Frick took me up to the Dodgers' front office and said, 'This young man wants to work for you.' That was it. Larry MacPhail was running the team and he gave me a job. I was a glorified gopher, but it was a start."
By late 1950, Bavasi was named general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, and was the Sporting News' "Major League Executive of the Year" in 1959. Bavasi joined the expansion San Diego Padres in 1968 as president and part-owner, then joined the Angels in 1977.
"There must be 25 players who make more individually than the 1952 Dodgers, and none has the loyalty of those Dodgers," says Bavasi. "Money has changed the game. It's sad. It really is. The player today can't wait to see what he can get tomorrow. I was once offered a raise, but I turned it down because I thought the team could put it to better use. Imagine that happening now with a player. No way."
That said, Bavasi declares that baseball "is still the best game in the world and I'll defend it to the end."Back