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first_img “A giant has passed away,” said USC athletic director Mike Garrett, the Heisman Trophy-winning tailback who was an outfielder for Dedeaux in 1965. “This is a tremendous loss to USC and the entire baseball community. It leaves a huge void in all of baseball. “From coach Dedeaux, I learned how to win and how important it was to win in any sport. For him, winning was a way of life.” At the same time UCLA’s basketball team and USC’s football team were dominating their respective sports in the 1960s and 1970s, one could make the argument the greatest Los Angeles dynasty of them all was Rod Dedeaux’s USC baseball team. Dedeaux, who died Thursday in Glendale at the age of 91 from complications from a Dec. 2 stroke, won a record 11 NCAA Championships, a whopping 28 consecutive conference titles and produced nearly 60 future major leaguers. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson Nearly 200 of his players went on to the pro level, and 60 USC players under Dedeaux went on to major-league careers, including Mark McGwire, Randy Johnson, Tom Seaver, Dave Kingman, Fred Lynn and Roy Smalley. While accepting a contract for $1 per season, Dedeaux had the most wins in NCAA Division I history – 1,332 – until Cliff Gustafson of Texas surpassed him in 1994. He also had winning seasons in 41 of his 45 years with the Trojans. Under Dedeaux, USC went 37 years without a losing season. “Rod not only was college baseball’s greatest coach, he was the sport’s and USC’s greatest ambassador,” said current USC baseball head coach Mike Gillespie, an outfielder on Dedeaux’s 1961 national championship squad. “His passing is felt by all Trojans. All of us in the USC baseball program mourn his loss and send our heartfelt feelings and prayers to the Dedeaux family.” Dedeaux’s mentor was Casey Stengel, who also lived in Glendale. Former Dodgers manager and Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda says he considered Dedeaux his mentor. center_img “I’ll cherish the days that I spent with him and traveled with him,” Lasorda said Thursday night. “He was my idol and he was my friend” for 43 years. Lasorda said Dedeaux’s family put a TV in his room Wednesday night so he could see the national championship football game between USC and Texas. The Trojans’ national championships included five in a row from 1970-74 – at a time when no other school had ever won two in a row. Born Raoul Martial Dedeaux in New Orleans, he moved to California as a youngster and starred at Hollywood High in the early 1930s. Dedeaux, who also played three seasons for USC, appeared in two games at shortstop for the 1935 Brooklyn Dodgers, going 1 for 4 with an RBI. He often described his big-league career as: “I had a cup of coffee with no sugar in it.” When Dedeaux retired in 1986, the USC baseball field had already been named in his honor for 12 years. Besides making a mark with the collegiate game, Dedeaux also spearheaded the development of amateur baseball nationally and internationally. He was instrumental in bringing baseball to the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles as a demonstration sport and coached the silver medal-winning U.S. team. He also coached the U.S. amateur team that played in Tokyo in conjunction with the 1964 Olympics. Hollywood enlisted Dedeaux’s expertise as well, inviting him to serve as a technical director and consultant for two highly successful movies: “Field of Dreams” and “A League of Their Own.” Away from baseball, Dedeaux served as president of Dart Transportation, Inc., a million-dollar trucking firm that specializes in worldwide distribution. He founded the company in the 1930s. Funeral services for Dedeaux are pending. He is survived by his wife, Helen, sons Justin and Terry and daughters Michele and Denise, and nine grandchildren, including current USC freshman first baseman/outfielder Adam Dedeaux. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to the Rod Dedeaux Foundation, which promotes amateur athletics, at 1430 So. Eastman Ave., Los Angeles 90023. The Associated Press contributed to this story. Vincent Bonsignore, (818) 713-3612 [email protected] A CAREER PERSPECTIVE Years as USC’s baseball coach: 45 (1942 to 1986). National titles: 11, including five in a row from 1970-74. Conference titles: 28 Career record: 1,332 wins, 571 losses, 11 ties. Among the 200 future pro players he coached at USC: Tom Seaver, Mark McGwire, Randy Johnson, Dave Kingman, Roy Smalley, Fred Lynn. Career highlights: Coached the 1964 and 1984 exhibition Olympic U.S. baseball teams; named “Coach of the Century” by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball in 1999. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more