Durocher Arrested For Assault
June 9, 1945
Leo “The Lip” Durocher, manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1939-1946 (as well as a brief stint in 1948), was known as a man who did not easily accept defeat. Throughout his career, Durocher had countless run-ins with his team, opposing players, management, commissioners, umpires, and fans.
On June 8, 1945, while hosting the Philadelphia Phillies, Durocher went a step too far, ambushing a fan in the dugout with the help of a stadium security guard. The incident led to his arrest on assault charges the following day.
The victim of Durocher’s outburst was a fan named John Christian, a war veteran who had spent the entire game gleefully mocking the Dodgers and their manager from the left-field stands. At Ebbets Field, the Dodgers dugout was behind first base — directly in Christian’s line of sight — and when Durocher stormed out to argue a close play in the early innings, Christian’s raucous cries intensified.
By the sixth inning, Christian had drawn the attention of Joe Moore, a stadium security guard, who approached the fan and asked him to accompany him to the clubhouse. Christian agreed, perhaps hoping to meet the manager or some of the players.
Indeed, he got a chance to meet Durocher. But the meeting was brief and less than cordial. “You’ve got a mother,” the manager reportedly snarled. “How’d you like to call her names?” Then — said Christian — he was promptly smacked across the head with some sort of blunt instrument (perhaps brass knuckles) by Moore, and — as he was trying to get up — hit again by Durocher.
Durocher responded to the charges by charging that Christian had merely “slipped on some wet cement.” Whatever actually happened, Christian wound up with a black eye and a broken jaw while Durocher was arrested.
Durocher was released on bail, and actor Danny Kaye, a friend of Durocher and acquaintance of Christian, eventually brokered a $7,000 settlement that closed the civil suit. The criminal case dealing with the assault charges was a farce, ending in dismissal. The fact that Judge Samuel Liebowitz was a diehard Dodger fan did not help Christian’s case.
The skirmish would not be the last time that Durocher had run-ins with fans. He was charged with assault again in 1949 at the Polo Grounds as manager of the New York Giants and in 1964 at Dodger Stadium while serving as third base coach of the Dodgers.