How did people that knew him really feel about Leo Durocher? A quote from Jack Brickhouse: “In the early days Leo was an SOB, but a sharp SOB. By the time he finished in Chicago he was just an old SOB.” A quote from Vin Scully after it was announced Durocher took a job in Japan. “It took the US 35 years to get revenge for Pearl Harbor.”
Suffice it to say, Leo was not beloved. When he was a player, he once gave Babe Ruth a black eye. He was such a taunter, that he was thrown at by Cubs pitchers while he was in the dugout.
And he didn't suddenly become Mr. Nice guy when he became the Cubs manager. He punished players that beat him at Gin Rummy (especially Ken Holtzman). He once ripped the phone out of the dugout in Houston and threw it onto the field because he was upset at a scoreboard cartoon (1965). He set up a folding chair in the dugout in 1967 so his buddy Frank Sinatra could watch the game from there. His third base coach walked out on him in the middle of a game (Pete Reiser). He left the team in June 1969 for his bachelor party, and blew off two more games to visit his new wife’s (Lynne Walker Goldblatt) kids in Wisconsin.
Want more? Before the game on August 23, 1971, Durocher was ripping Milt Pappas for making a bad pitch the night before, and Joe Pepitone came to his defense. Pappas and Holtzman also chimed in. Durocher responded by ripping everyone on the team, even the team captain Ron Santo. He called Santo a "malingerer" and said that Santo had insisted on a Ron Santo Day for himself, which led Santo call Durocher "a liar" and they almost got into a fist fight. Santo's teammates had to hold him back. (The Cubs lost 16 of their next 21 games after that—Durocher had lost the team.)
Owner P.K. Wrigley took out a full page ad in all four Chicago papers supporting Durocher and blaming the team, and that only made matters worse. Before the '72 season, the Cubs hired Hank Aguirre to serve as a liaison between Durocher and the press, and Durocher and the players. That didn't work either. Leo was fired in July of '72.
He was fired for the same reason he was fired everywhere else he had ever worked. He couldn't zip his ever famous lip. If ever a person deserved a nickname, it was Leo Durocher.