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Thursday, February 13, 2020

Rocky Bridges knew baseball, and one-liners as player, coach

Rocky Bridges 1990 Welland Pirates card

Rocky Bridges spoke of his life in baseball to The Los Angeles Times in 1985 - and gave a glimpse into his personality, as well.

Talking about his lack of a major league managing opportunity, the veteran major league player and minor league manager told The Times he was "just happy being gainfully employed."

"Baseball is the only thing I really know," Bridges told The Times, before adding a trademark one-liner. "I lost the Rhodes Scholarship somewhere along the line. You know how the mail is."

Bridges' major league playing career spanned 11 seasons. His later coaching career spanned nearly another 30. And he brought his wit, along with his baseball wisdom, with him the entire way.

Bridges' long career in baseball began in 1947, signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers out of Long Beach Poly High in California.

Bridges started with the Dodgers at Class C Santa Barbara, then hit Class A Greenville for 1948 and then AAA Montreal for 1949. He made Brooklyn in 1951.

He saw 63 games for Brooklyn in 1951 and hit .254. He returned for 51 games in 1952 and hit .196. He then moved to the Reds for 1953 in a trade, and got into 122 games.

Bridges stayed with Cincinnati into 1957, when Washington took him off waivers and he played the year with them. In 1958, Bridges made the All-Star team and hit .263 on the year.

His Topps card that season noted his versatility and called him "one of the sharpest bench-jockeys in the game."

Bridges continued playing in the majors through 1961, seeing time with the Tigers, Indians, Cardinals and Angels.

He then turned to coaching and managing. He served as third base coach for the Angels in 1962 and 1963. He later served as an assistant coach for the Angels from 1968 to 1971 and as first base coach for the Giants in 1985.

In between, he managed in the minors, including nine seasons spent as manager of AAA Phoenix from 1972 to 1982.

For 1988, he managed AAA Buffalo. The Oklahoman that year wrote that Bridges' colorful personality was "what makes being around baseball people so enjoyable."

"I only have one philosophy: I remember I played," Bridges told The Oklahoman. "I think a lot of managers sometimes forget they played and they made the same boo-boos. We try to eliminate the boo-boos, but they're always gonna be there. I remember when I made outs and booted the ball."

Bridges then managed at high-A Salem for 1989 and served as a coach at short-season Welland in 1990.

Bridges passed away in January 2015. On writing of his passing, The Spokane Spokesman-Review called him "the kind of the one-liner."

One of Bridges' former players at Phoenix, Casey Parsons, recalled Bridges to The Spokesman-Review.

"He was a crossword genius," Parsons told The Spokesman-Review of Bridges. "People don't realize what a baseball guy he was. And he had such a wit about him."
Rocky Bridges 1990 Welland Pirates card

1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,296
Made the Majors:1,183-35.9%-X
Never Made Majors:2,113-64.1%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 488
10+ Seasons in the Minors:286

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