A Life in Baseball

Rod Dedeaux.jpg

Rod Dedeaux’s baseball career started when he was an All-City shortstop at Hollywood High from 1930-1931. He then starred as a shortstop at University of Southern California from 1933 to 1935; he was team captain and one of the first major league players to come out of the university. He turned pro after graduation, as he was very highly regarded and was signed by Casey Stengal to play for The Brooklyn Dodgers. He played at minor league Dayton in 1935 and hit .360, he was called up to the big leagues at the end of the season but only had four at bats with one RBI. Heartbreak struck soon after when he broke a vertebrae in his back and was never able to play in the majors again.

But Rod turned a terrible tragedy into a triumph as he soon became the youngest head coach in the history of college baseball in 1942. In 1948 he won the college baseball championship and he soon turned the USC baseball program into nothing short of a juggernaught. His teams won a record eleven national championships including four in a row from 1970-1974. He was coach of the United Stated Olympic Baseball team when baseball was a demonstration sport in 1964 and then again in 1984. He was then an assistant coach to his close friend, Tommy Lasorda, on the 1988 gold medal winning team in Sidney, Australia.

Dedeaux also founded the Japan-United States Collegiate Series in 1972 and was chairman of the event from 1972 to 1984. Dedeaux was honored by the Japanese government in 1996 with the Fourth Order of the Merit Cordon of the Rising Sun. He was named to the College Baseball Hall of Fame, and in 1999 College Baseball magazine named him the "Coach of the Century".